Collaboration fuses visual, performing arts

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Jul 5, 2015 - 21:50
  • Updated : Jul 6, 2015 - 13:12

Violinist Won Hyung-joon (left) and artist Park Gian. (Uky Baek/Ukynepeople)

Two Korean artists will stage a performance piece this week in an effort to lift the role of art in society.

“Endless Lingering” by violinist Won Hyung-joon and artist Park Gian will be held at the Jeju Museum of Contemporary Art from Thursday to Saturday.

The performance will feature Won playing J.S. Bach’s “Chaconne,” accompanied by Park’s dance and a movie showing the flowing movement of paint on her painting.

The performance is the first of a concert series to mark 70 years of national division that has been organized by Won, who is supported by the Swiss Embassy and is executive director of Lindenbaum Music. Concerts will be held in Busan and Gyeonggi Province in July, and at Dongnimmun Gate in Seoul on Aug. 13 and Panmunjeom in the Demilitarized Zone on Aug. 15.

“I thought art and music were like oil and water. I assumed music lovers did not like art exhibitions, and vice versa,” Won told The Korea Herald. “But by collaborating with Park, I learned that the two met at an intersection.”

Park, who has worked for the last five years on the “automatism” technique of pouring paint on canvas, said her work attempts to arouse people’s emotions. The whirling clothes in her dance express the wind, and the moving paint captures gravity, she claims.

“Art collaboration has existed for some time, most notably by French abstract painter Georges Mathieu and Korean-American artist Paik Nam-june,” Park explained. “In today’s ‘age of convergence,’ celebrities such as Big Bang, Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus are expanding the frontiers of their genres by experimenting with new methods.”

As consequence, they have widened their platforms and made them more accessible to the public, she pointed out, adding that she focuses on both “what” and “how” of her creation.

Park said that many people’s tendency to see art as extravagance needs to be rethought.

“One of my friends in a developing country told me that her people did not have the luxury of enjoying art, as they were too busy making ends meet,” she said. “But I think that from a developed country’s perspective, Korea would appear similar. Art is not simply high living, but well-being of our souls essentially.”

Won agreed, stressing that artists and musicians have a social role to play. “Music is not simply for pleasure, but a practical tool to address and solve social issues,” he said.

“Korea developed singlehandedly toward economic prosperity since the Korean War, but now that we have achieved wealth, we are hungry for culture,” he said.

“But our society is affected by the side effects of the rapid growth, particularly on our humanity, happiness and trust. Music can mend our cleavages and heal our wounds.”

Won pointed out that the arts in Korea have been confined to the domain of households, and consequently, closed off from society. It is the duty of culture-lovers to expand the social possibilities of arts, he said.

By solving Korea’s political divisions and economic discrimination, Won hoped that the government and companies could pay more heed and support to the arts.

“One example might be for the opposition party members, or management and labor representatives, to sing together in a choir,” he noted. “By practicing together, they would come to understand each other’s feelings better.”

On Independence Day, Aug. 15, at the Joint Security Area, 70 members of the Lindenbaum Festival Orchestra will sing Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in D minor, as part of the “One people, one harmony” concert. Through the Swiss Embassy in Seoul, Won sent an official request to the North Korean government to send 70 musicians across the border, and is awaiting confirmation.

The Swiss Embassy in Seoul has supported Won since 2009, when Swiss conductor Charles Dutoit led a concert in Seoul on Swiss national day in August as part of the Lindenbaum Music Festival.

More collaboration has occurred since then, and in 2013, the Lindenbaum staged a concert in the Swiss Camp of the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission in Panmunjeom. 

By Joel Lee (