Destination: Daegu International Body Painting Festival (2010) (NSFW)

Author’s note: this post is rated NSFW (Not Safe For Work) due to some nudity – this IS a body painting festival, people. Please go elsewhere if you’re looking for pornography – this is tasteful and beautiful art.

Daegu International Body Painting Festival 2010 - Photo by Chris Backe

As one might notice at a body painting festival, there’s plenty of paint, a touch of toplessness, and some awesome artwork. Taking the human body and using it as a canvas is definitely interesting, but I had yet to see this interesting artistic technique up-close and personal. The Daegu International Body Painting Festival was the answer. There was quite a bit of excellent art; in fact, it was hard to narrow the number to less than twenty pictures for the sake of this post.

We arrived at Duryu Park a bit earlier than needed – while it was nice to things at a relative calm, there was nothing going on in the early afternoon. Sure, there were people selling professional supplies along with completely unrelated stuff (garlic, anyone). When the show isn’t until 7:30pm and it takes several hours to paint the model, the first hour or so was spent aimlessly meandering – it happens that way sometimes. Once things got started, there was plenty to see.

Daegu International Body Painting Festival 2010 - Photo by Chris Backe

The term ‘international’ in Korea does not necessarily mean an international crowd. Quite a few special guests and competitors, however, were from beyond Korea’s borders. Above is one of the American artists brought in as a special guest, Lisa Berczel. Surprisingly, she was one of the few artists to have any sort of promotional / marketing material – and thus is one of the few names I can associate with the artwork.

Daegu International Body Painting Festival 2010 - Photo by Chris Backe

It’s worth noting that rent-a-cop-style ‘security’ attempted to keep photographers from taking pictures of people in a public space. These ever-courteous ‘officers’ made the universal hands-crossed-in-an-X sign along with the hand-in-the-front-of-the-camera hand in an attempt to keep photographers at bay. The hilarious result was a cat-and-mouse game of photographers – with long telephoto lenses used to getting the shot through the crowd – and security personnel unsure of what exactly the rules were. Outnumbered by photographers perhaps ten-to-one, they were assisted by volunteers who stayed with some artists.

Daegu International Body Painting Festival 2010 - Photo by Chris Backe

The choice of giving the photographers a hard time or giving them carte blanche seemed to be left up to the artist. Thankfully, more than a few of the models were happy to smile for photos.

Because watching the paint get painted on didn’t take more than 30 minutes, the crowd found some other entertainment:

Daegu International Body Painting Festival 2010 - Photo by Chris Backe

Yes, that is a male belly dancer – unusual, but not unheard of. He performed with a troupe of beautifully-dressed female dancers. Personally, he seemed to have the best technique of them all.

Daegu International Body Painting Festival 2010 - Photo by Chris Backe

Another gentlemen showing off his belly-dancing skills – this time with a hookah on his head. In case you’re wondering, yes, it’s a real hookah, and yes, he did smoke it during his performance.

Daegu International Body Painting Festival 2010 - Photo by Chris Backe

While I didn’t catch this young lady’s age, I suspect she has a bright future in belly dancing. The group she performed as part of was nice as well, but she seemed to be the star.

Daegu International Body Painting Festival 2010 - Photo by Chris Backe

And we’re back to watching people get painted. These scenes were wide open to the public thanks to open tents. A few tents (out of dozens) featured a volunteer valiantly holding a blanket or sheet over some models.

Daegu International Body Painting Festival 2010 - Photo by Chris Backe

Getting closer to the final show now – note that elaborate hairpieces, eyelashes, and nails are apparently as large a part of the show as the paint itself.

Knowing that the show would be starting soon, we tried making our way up to the amphitheater. No seats, however, so plan B was to walk back up to the tent area. A number of photographers had been sitting by some solid-color walls, leading us to believe the models would be posing there. We were right, and set up camp by the black one:

Daegu International Body Painting Festival 2010 - Photo by Chris Backe

Some of the models knew how to model and work with the light. Others…? Not as much. The next model improvised a bit:

Daegu International Body Painting Festival 2010 - Photo by Chris BackeDaegu International Body Painting Festival 2010 - Photo by Chris Backe

Some of the photographers asked the models to turn around or move around a bit more than they did on their own.

Daegu International Body Painting Festival 2010 - Photo by Chris Backe

A few models seemed to have so much going on that it distracted from the paint.

Daegu International Body Painting Festival 2010 - Photo by Chris Backe

Gorgeous.

Daegu Body Painting Festival 2010 - photo by Chris BackeDaegu Body Painting Festival 2010 - photo by Chris Backe

Several artists used male models – just as interesting a canvas, but their modeling / posing skills needed some work. The Spiderman pose is OK, but posing as a bodybuilder is a little silly unless you have a body that’s been built.

The rest of the show was stunning:

Daegu Body Painting Festival 2010 - photo by Chris BackeDaegu International Body Painting Festival 2010 - photo by Chris BackeDaegu International Body Painting Festival 2010 - photo by Chris Backe

A sudden rainstorm sent most of the photographers – and models – scrambling for shelter. We headed back down to the main stage, where the models continued their show and the audience opened up their umbrellas.

This was one fun event – with two major problems. After arriving, people walked around, saw the models, perhaps took some pictures, and then…? Lather, rinse, repeat? For hours until the show started in the evening? There needs to be something to keep the crowd entertained for the time it takes to get models from panties and pasties to works of art. A few sporadic dancing performances didn’t prevent us from leaving the area to find something else of interest. Perhaps the rest of Duryu Park could get in on the action, holding a related or interesting event of its own. It wouldn’t hurt to have a couple more food options – there needs to be something other than hot dogs on sticks and expensive (but really good) pork next year.

The second issue: perverted photographers in search of every nipple or breast. This isn’t a new phenomenon – Brian in Jeollanam-do mentioned it awhile back – but the cat-and-mouse game between ‘security’ and a mob of photographers packing long lenses did distract somewhat. One solution? Make it clear which artists will allow photography and which ones won’t. Keep things a bit more organized on the volunteer / security front to ensure photographers are kept at bay while visitors are given all the eye candy they can handle.

Ratings (out of 5 taeguks):
Ease to arrive:

Foreigner-friendly:

Convenience facilities:

Worth the visit:

This article first appeared on Chris Backe’s website and is reproduced here with permission

Chris Backe is an ex-pat living in South Korea with a penchant for blogging and travel. Like about 20,000 other foreigners in Korea, he teaches English as a full-time job / source of income. When not teaching, however, he is out exploring the dynamic society that is Korea. Chris makes it a point to visit one new place, event, or festival every week. You can read more about what’s going on in the land of the morning calm on his blog Chris Backe – AKA Chris Backe in South Korea!

Links:

  • Models become art for the International Body Painting Festival in South Korea – Daily Telegraph has photos from the 2009 expo: http://bit.ly/WANjG (HT @CoolstuffKorea)

Creative Commons License © Chris Backe – 2010

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