The Korea Herald


All the world’s a stage for experimental performance art

The 12th Korea Experimental Arts Festival brings performance art to Hongdae and Seogwipo streets Dec. 12-23

By Lee Woo-young

Published : Dec. 8, 2013 - 19:18

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A performance by Japanese artist Mushimaru Fujieda. (Korea Experimental Arts Festival) A performance by Japanese artist Mushimaru Fujieda. (Korea Experimental Arts Festival)
Performance artists from around the world will bring a vibrant vibe to the artistic streets of Hongdae in Seoul and Seogwipo in Jeju during the 12th Korea Experimental Arts Festival this month.

The annual festival, which began in 2002, will bring performances by more than 50 artists from 15 countries to the public from Thursday to Dec. 23.

“The Korea Experimental Arts Festival aims to observe various social and environmental issues of today through art performances. The festival, to be held in two different locations, will bring a fresh take on the regional characteristics through performances held at a variety of places like streets, coffee shops, stores and markets,” said Kim Baek-ki, artistic director of the festival.

With an ambitious goal of setting a long-term vision for performance art in mind, the festival hopes to break barriers between the audience and performance art with site-specific performances.

In Hongdae, artists will pay tribute to the spirit of Hongdae-based artists and their innovative minds. From Thursday to Sunday, international artists will hold a rally of performances at Seogyo Art Experiment Center in Hongdae, which will serve as the festival’s main venue.

Each group is assigned to perform for 444 seconds. The number four symbolizes death as the Korean pronunciation of the two Chinese characters is the same. The duration of the performance is set to illustrate festival’s aim to break away from stereotypes in art and to extend boundaries of their performances.

A performance by Estonian artist Al Paldrok.  (Korea Experimental Arts Festival) A performance by Estonian artist Al Paldrok.  (Korea Experimental Arts Festival)
Participating artists include Estonian artist Al Paldrok, known for his radical performances, German artist Michael Steger, French artist Patrick Jambon and Finnish artist Peter Rosvik.

The artists will hold street performances from 3 to 6 p.m. from Thursday to Sunday. At night, a performance will invite the audience to a sauna on the rooftop of the Seogyo Art Experiment Center from 9:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.

An archive exhibition will be held alongside the performances on the first floor of the main venue to help the audience understand the artists’ intention behind some eccentric performances.

The festival will continue in Jeju from Dec. 20-22 where performances will be dedicated to Jeju’s pristine nature and history. Artists will present a variety of performances on the art street in Seogwipo, which has a thriving cultural scene with galleries and art shops springing up along the streets by Lee Jung-seop Art Museum.

Artists from Jeju and Iceland will present a collaborative performance on the volcanic geographical features of both the islands, which will be followed by a joint art project between the two places.

Drawing on lessons from environmental damage, artists plan to hold a “requiem performance,” which is dedicated to the once small and scenic Gangjeong Village, where a new naval base is being constructed.

The festival in Jeju will invite local residents to the craft-making sessions and contemporary performance classes, conducted by participating artists. These events will take place from Dec. 17 to 19 at different venues in Seogwipo. For more information, visit

By Lee Woo-young (