Experimental Art takes over Hongdae

Walking the streets of my neighborhood, aka Hongdae, yesterday, my friend and I chanced upon a parade made up of seemingly disconnected groups of dressed up people heading towards a large and in charge chair at the Hapjeong end of Hongdae’s shopping street. There were masked men in painted cars with dinosaurs glued to the hoods, a group dressed up like the Lion King theater show, a Brazilian dance crew and Germans on floats among others.

After stopping a volunteer and getting a pamphlet for the eclectic event it seemed we were in the midst of the 10th Korea Experimental Arts Festival. I had not seen any advertising for this, nor had I heard about this the past 5 years living here, but with such seemingly randomly related people and exhibits we decided to stay and see how this would unfold. The KEAF 2011 “is the visual artistic festival of domestic and international experimental artists who have documented social and cultural issues with the most exceptional way. The contemporary Eastern and Western conceptual happening has begun,” as their pamphlet read.

This year the festival is running from July 23 until the 30th. The pamphlet is a bit tricky to break down but there are events running throughout the Hongdae area in different venues from 1PM on into the night everyday throughout the week. Venues include the Seogyo Art Experimental Center, the B-boy Theater, the Mapo Lifelearning Center and 11 cafes including Pausa, Cafe the Plain, cook and book, Gallery Cafe Ohoo, Da-da-da, Goyanges Sigan, Berlin Kiss, Pizzasta, Sukkara, Anny Cafe, and Market Bamsamkin Byul.

After talking with Steve Vanoni an American who has teamed up with the Estonian group NONGRATA, also the driver and painter of the Art Car Performance, for a while my friend and I got the ticket information for some of the performances and decided to stay into the night to watch the opening performance “Gut Evening”. The performance was to combine a Korean traditional ceremony with contemporary arts. There was a Shaman along with some very enjoyable performance artists throughout the night.

Dallae Bae’s body painting performance was one of the many enjoyable parts of the night.

Along with the Shaman who was to bring the spirits of three great artists into the night. The ceremony consisted of Korean traditional music, robing and disrobing and culminated in him standing on knives.

For anyone else on vacation and looking for something to do this week the KEAF’s takeover of Hongdae is sure to fill some time and space.

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