Quick, duck! Here comes performance art!"People who do performance art are usually artists who have grown unsatisfied with conventional art forms that stand still, like painting or sculpture," said Kim Baek-ki, the president of an association of artists that will hold a performance art festival next week. "Performance art is a breakthrough for them, because they can use all of their senses to express themselves."
Mr. Kim's group, the Korea Performing Art Spirit, has organized the Korea Performance Art Festival, which will begin Saturday and run until Aug. 25 in venues near western Seoul's Hongik University. The show will trace the history of performance art in Korea. "Generally, Korea's performing art is not that much different from the Western one," Mr. Kim said, adding that what might be different is that it is influenced by exorcism, dance and shamanism.
The early generations of artists, up to the end of the 1980s, expressed themselves in many ways, using painting, music, dancing, drama and mime. They also tended to be critical of the government. In the 1990s artists shifted their focus inward, attempting to express subconscious feelings. More efforts were made from this time to popularize the art form.
During the festival, audiences can watch performances by artists such as Kim Suk-hwan, who paints on canvases by throwing eggs prepared for the purpose. Sometimes, as a diversion, he will throw a few eggs at the audience. Lee Hyuck-bal, who experimented with many different ideas in the '90s to express the inner side of man, is expected to skip rope -- naked.
Including the above performers, about 70 artists will participate in the festival, all of them from the Seoul area. The performances will be divided between "theater" and "club" performances. The theater shows will be held at Theater Zero (02-338-9240). Programs will begin weekdays at 7:30 p.m. and weekends at 4 p.m. To show the story of local performance art, the club will stage plays that were choreographed decades ago, as well as more recent ones. About six acts per day will perform, running for a total of two hours per day. Tickets are 12,000 won ($10) for adults and 8,000 won for middle and high school students.
The club performances will be held over the same span. Nine clubs in the nightclub area around Hongik University, such as Saab, M.I. and DD, will serve as the venues. On Monday to Thursday, the shows will begin at 9:30 p.m. The Friday to Sunday shows start at 8:30 p.m. The performances will be coupled with stimulating music, and the clubs have sound systems that the artists will be able to use to the fullest. Entrance will be 10,000 won ($8), which will include one free drink.
Also part of the festival is a photo and image exhibition at a gallery in the area, Ssamzie Space. It will continue until the end of the month and is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pictures and videos of the 70 performers and their shows can be viewed. If you're picky about which shows you would like to see, go to the gallery to get a good idea of what the performers are all about. Entrance is free. For more information call 02-322-2852
by Shin June-bong