Event reports and reviews

No matter how much preparation you put into visiting an art fair – planning which stalls to visit, estimating how much time you are likely to spend at each – you will almost always end up spending your time differently from the way you originally intended: some stalls will engage you in conversation, telling you […]

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Biennale visit: Korea’s contemporary vision of Utopia

by Philip Gowman 24 September 2016
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At the heart of Korea’s contribution to London’s first design biennale is a digital rendering of Ahn Gyeong’s famous realisation of a visionary dream described by his patron, Prince Anpyeong, a son of King Sejong the Great. On the left of the image, in place of the calligraphic colophon provided by Prince Anpyeong himself is […]

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Exhibition visit: Kang Ik-joong’s Moon Jars at Robilant + Voena

by Philip Gowman 20 September 2016
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With Kang Ik-joong’s specially commissioned work floating prominently on the river outside Tate Modern, Robilant and Voena have chosen an opportune time to exhibit a collection of his moon jar paintings. Also on show is Things I Know (2010) an installation of 500 small moon jars arranged in a circle. He may have been pulling […]

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Concert notes: Jeong Ga Ak Hoe at the British Museum

by Philip Gowman 19 September 2016
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Although the official opening concert of K-Music 2016 is Nah Youn-sun with Ulf Wakenius on 20 September, the British Museum’s Chuseok celebrations in collaboration with the KCC have given us several performances by the contemporary gugak group Jeong Ga Ak Hoe. They presented a programme of traditional music in the Korean Gallery on the morning […]

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Kang Ik-joong’s Floating Dreams for Korean reunification

by Philip Gowman 14 September 2016
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Kang Ik-joong’s installation entitled Floating Dreams is a symbol of hope for the unification of Korea. Moored on the Thames outside Tate Modern, the installation is an assembly of 500 drawings in the shape of a cube – four square sides and a flat upper surface each featuring a grid of 10 x 10 pictures […]

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Film review: Tunnel – will it be a hit outside Korea?

by Philip Gowman 4 September 2016
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Tunnel (dir: Kim Sung-hoon, whose Hard Day put him on the map) has been topping the Korean box office since it was released less than four weeks ago, and amazingly now has a one-week release in the UK, until 8 September. What has contributed to its popularity in Korea? And could it attain the same […]

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Kang Ik-joong’s Floating Dreams installed on the Thames

by Philip Gowman 30 August 2016
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For one reason or another, today at the office I had my eyes glued to my PC screen most of the day. I didn’t have much time to enjoy the view from my window, from where I can see the Thames around the Greenwich peninsula. Which meant that I managed to miss one of the […]

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Fringe visit: The Tiniest Frog Prince in the World

by Philip Gowman 24 August 2016
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I was feeling grumpy when I went into this show and had decided I was not going to enjoy it. I had rushed to get there having just got off the train. It had started late, and if it overran I wasn’t going to have time to get to the next show. And I’m not […]

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Fringe visit: Girl

by Philip Gowman 24 August 2016
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Modl Theatre Company is perhaps best known in this country for its work aimed at younger audiences, but it is a diverse company which also engages with more adult material too. And you can’t get much more adult than a graphic description of the surgical procedure that the Japanese forced upon young Korean girls so […]

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Fringe visit: Dandelion’s Story

by Philip Gowman 24 August 2016
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What on earth makes a theatre company think that creating a piece about doggy poo is a good idea? How do you persuade an actress that taking on the role of a talking turd is a big break for her? Well, firstly, this production is aimed at children, and kids of all ages find poo […]

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Fringe visit: Tiger in Blossom

by Philip Gowman 24 August 2016
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This is a simple retelling for children of the Korean folk tale of the Tiger and the Woodcutter, in which a woodcutter, about to be killed by a tiger in the forest, persuades the beast that he used to be human, and is in fact his elder brother. The initially sceptical tiger eventually falls for […]

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Fringe visit: The Song of Beast (after Hamlet)

by Philip Gowman 24 August 2016
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Imagine Hamlet scripted / co-directed by Park Chan-Wook (Oldboy), Ryu Seung-wan (Veteran / Unjust) and Yoon Jong-bin (Nameless Gangster), with dialogue input from Yang Ik-joon (Breathless), and music by Cho Young-wook (Oldboy) and you’re starting to get close what this production is like. The setting is moved from Denmark to an abattoir which has a […]

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Fringe visit: Chef – Come Dine with Us

by Philip Gowman 24 August 2016
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A Korean physical theatre / comedy performance involving cooking? Does that sound like Nanta? Well, yes. We loved Nanta when it came to Kingston and were happy to see what this seemingly very similar show had to offer. Judging by the poster, it certainly had a thoroughly ripped male torso to entice you. The scenario […]

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Fringe visit: Snap

by Philip Gowman 24 August 2016
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This show was far from being my highlight of the Fringe. The audience seemed to enjoy it, and the reviews are very favourable, particularly from families with children. I myself couldn’t help feeling that I’d seen it all before: the sort of sleight of hand magic tricks you see done on TV variety shows.  On […]

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Fringe visit: Tago – Korean Drum II

by Philip Gowman 24 August 2016
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On paper, one hour of Korean drumming doesn’t sound appealing, but this type of show is consistently popular with fringe-goers. There is enough variety to keep the audience interested, from Buddhist temple percussion to Samulnori, and the energy and enthusiasm of the performers is infectious. There is also some very non-traditional percussion: a trolley which […]

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Concert notes: China, Korea and Syria at Club Inégales

by Philip Gowman 25 July 2016
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The final gig of Club Inégales’ current season was predictably unpredictable. You know the format in advance, but you never know what the outcome will be. The house band, or subsets of it, improvise in the first set; in the second set the guests solo; and in the third set everyone plays together, cross fertilising […]

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Exhibition visit: Koo Jeong A upgrades Charing Cross

by Philip Gowman 4 July 2016
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When we visited the Venice Biennale in 2009, one of the installations in the Giardini was by Koo Jeong A entitled A Reality Upgrade & End Alone (2009). The installation involved the sprinkling of 3,000 rhinestones on the grass near the cafeteria, which should have resulted in the tired lawn miraculously coming alive with fairy dust. And indeed that’s […]

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