experimental art in korea?
November 3, 2008 4:46 PM   Subscribe

korea filter: i'll be in seoul and pusan for two weeks in november (10th - 24th). i'm looking for venues that cater to underground art and performance. any ideas?

i'm interested in experimental music and performance that reach for the aesthetics of say the boredoms or butoh, but aren't the same thing. i've done a lot of searching, but haven't found anything. does this sort of work even exist in that country? thanks!

if you are curious about my background as an experimental artist check out my resume at my site. it might give you an idea of what i'm looking for.
posted by artof.mulata to Travel & Transportation around Seoul, South Korea (11 answers total)
Seoul: Yogiga in Hapjeong--nearby, the Hongik Univ. area has a bit of an underground art/rock scene, if less so than five of six years ago due to skyrocketing prices and a general uptick in fancyness.

PAN, huh? I bumped into/shared bills with some of your cohorts back when I lived in Portland.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 5:53 PM on November 3, 2008

For improvised music, there's also Relay, but not very often these days, and a tiny spot called Dotolim that does monthly shows featuring one or two players. Balloon&Needle is a label and puts on shows, these days in a series called Sound of Confusion. PM me if you want more specific info.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 5:56 PM on November 3, 2008

Response by poster: hi joseph, thanks for the reply... i know about balloon and needle already and i was planning on hunting them down. and i know yukieo sati who's a regular at yogiga.

i was hoping i could get beyond improv music. which i dig, but i want more. and weirder!

i met a gang of really amazing young women last year when i was there who were doing pansori. unfortunately i lost their contact info. i was hoping they could show me around...

can you say anything about the possibilities of experimental art there? i found it in great abundance and flourishing in japan, but korea, if it has it, is doing a great job of obfuscation!
posted by artof.mulata at 7:09 PM on November 3, 2008

Yeah, I'm not really sure. Every now and then something more self-consciously "weird" appears, but usually not for long.

Oh, and it's "Yukie Sato" (or "Sato Yukie," Japanese-style), btw.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 9:10 PM on November 3, 2008

It's been a bit since I've been in Korea, but you might want to check out Insa Art Space for some pretty good in-depth art, and Art Center Nabi is having an new media-ish exhibit on the Korean language (Hangul). If I remember correctly, Ssamzie space (around the Hongik Univ. area that Joseph Gurl mentions) has some fun exhibitions. Also, something called Platform Seoul is going on, which looks like a series of contemporary art performances. Oh, and there's a James Turrell solo show at the Total Museum -- his works are always spectactular; you should go see it.

I can't seem to find it right now, but there's a new media art 'center' that was recently established in Seoul. Maybe one of the handful of Mefites currently in Korea can remember it?
posted by suedehead at 3:04 AM on November 4, 2008

Suedehead, none of that is really "underground," it's all very sanctioned, financed, etc.--hell, Nabi is in the SK Building!

artof.mulata, Sato Yukie is the best person for you to talk to, probably. He's very networked, knows everyone, etc. KOPAS, who he knows well, might be the closest thing to what you're looking for around here.

There's not a lot of "outside" underground art activity in Seoul because it's very expensive to live here and most people work like crazy.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 6:01 AM on November 4, 2008

Greetings from a MeFi Seoulite,
You've already heard of quite a few good suggestions - the Insa Art Center (and the area in general) being a wonderful place to see some great art. Hongik University would be the place I'd start. If you have the chance to see it on a Saturday night (as in after midnight) you'll see all sorts of posters and postcards for music. Techno and DJ's with a World DJ ranking seem more popular than anything else, but keep your ears open and you'll find something you like.

As for improv art, I'm sorry to say I'm not as connected to that scene. In just about any area where the twentysomethings hang out, almost anything goes - bring your work with you and try to sell it at Hongik University Park (just across the street from the University, or a few blocks walking from the subway station. You never know who you'll run into.

The National Museum of Contemporary Art may also be of interest - City Hall Station, line 1 or 2, exits 1, 11, or 12 in the heart of downtown.

I suspect what you're looking for isn't as well-advertised across the internet... Take a second look through Facebook events and see what you come up to. If all else fails, MeFi me with your plans- I don't mind going on a exploration of weird art (I'm an artist myself always looking for new inspiration)
posted by chrisinseoul at 7:12 AM on November 4, 2008

it's been about 10 years since i lived in korea . . . so this is gonna be dated . . . but my gut tells me that this is not gonna be the kind of question you'll find an answer to here . . . is there a hangul metafilter? that *might* be the place to ask . . .

i remember impromptu raves and events happening, especially near the outskirts or underbellies of itaewon, but those were last minute, and those were also more about partying, and less about art, though there was a little bit of "art" too . . .

regine at we make money not art has a little page on seoul, but it's not really what you're looking for, i think . . .

in short, your best bet to answer this question is to go to the "cool" bars in the hong-dae neighborhood. and ask around there. when i was there, there was a fair amount of performance and poetics and garbled expat lunacy off to the side. i'd imagine that there would still be some folks who would be into this scene hanging out . . . the trick in korea is getting to meet them. the answer to this first step, of course, is pojang macha . . . maybe in insa-dong? kombe!
posted by deejay jaydee at 7:19 AM on November 4, 2008

Response by poster: hey thanks all... i appreciate all the answers!

it seems rather amazing to me that with everything else going on in that country art wise that the kids haven't freaked out and found their meter. there's so much art production and social anxiety about the future that you would hope some artsy types would be producing some weirdness to stir things up. especially with japan and china right next door and they've had artists doing truly elegant and bizarre work for a long time now.

i'm lugging video and photo and audio recording equipment with me for the trip. if i find what i am looking for, and i'll be bewildered if i don't find something, i'll be posting it to my blog. and i'll metatalk it up to the rest of the world. the people need to know!

as for Sato Yukie, i stayed with him at his parent's house last year in tokyo. and played some small shows with him there, too. that guy is a hoot and has the most amazing collecting of beatles memorabilia i have ever seen. he even has pics of paul naked. and he has a machine gun guitar... i like that fellow.
posted by artof.mulata at 10:34 AM on November 4, 2008

Suedehead, none of that is really "underground," it's all very sanctioned, financed, etc.--hell, Nabi is in the SK Building!

Ah yeah, no kidding. I sort of disregarded the 'underground' part, was aiming towards the 'experimental' part. But it seems that more often than not, experimental art is subsidized by companies and galleries; there's such a small audience for underground/experimental art in Korea that it seems that a lot people are striving for widespread mainstream recognition, not within a private underground art scene. It's too bad.

And artofmulata, I'd be really interested in what you find in Korea -- keep us updated!
posted by suedehead at 2:38 PM on November 4, 2008

Response by poster: i return to the states on the 24th of november. expect a very disappointed (but blissed out) mulata or one who has found the secret of korea's underground.

i get the whole line on searching for mainstream acceptance from suedehead. i couldn't agree more. and it's interesting as the art society there seems to be promoting this view, too. not in a directed way, just in the way that things get promoted.

all the kids i met who refer to themselves as 'underground artists' over there were showing through corporate sponsored sites or institutions with corporate or government sanction/funding. and they all had aspirations for mainstream acceptability.

kind of inspiring to be around all these shining folks who saw themselves as the natural inheritors of the world's cultural capital. but i was scared that if i stuck around too long i might start trying to become a pop star again. gotta watch that one...
posted by artof.mulata at 4:40 PM on November 4, 2008

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