Li Ning, Material Life
‘Festival Bo:m’ is an international and diverse arts festival with artists from around the world, to gather and exchange artistic ideas between various genres of modern arts such as dance, theatre, fine arts, music, cinema, performance, and more. It is the eigth anniversary of the festival and this time, unlike previous years, the festival will be held not in a limited space, but in the cities of Seoul, Busan, and Yokohama with more experimental work. Specifically, the festival will not display famous works like that of previous years, but will display an array of unprecedented works. Lee Seunghyo (art director) explained, ‘This year, we focused on the artist’s personal expressions rather than large scale works, and wanted to expand the boundaries of art by combining different genres’. The festival has a theme of ‘Conversing and Communicating between Contemporary Arts’, and emphasizes form, experiments, theories, and attempts to point out the errors of society and the art world.
A play is a kind of architecture. It can't be done alone, and the process is important. The audience can be the building owner or the user, the director becomes the architect and designs the stage called architecture. The reason why we pay attention to these new plays and works is that we can find new challenges and experiments in architecture as well. I urge people to stop censoring themselves with silence and criticism, but to ‘speak now, the irrationalities of society and architecture through space and theatre’.
reported by Shim Youngkyu | materials provided by Festival Bo:m | photographed by Jeon Woosung
The Client and the Architect: The Director and the Audience
The architect and the building owner’s relationship is not simply that of an employer and an employee. The building owner provides the architect with the purpose of constructing a building, the architect designs a building for the building owner, and the building owner becomes the user and occupies the building. The same aspects apply for plays. The director (architect) makes the play (building) because the audience (building owner) exists, and the director and audience meet on the stage through the play.
The opening act of this year’s ‘Festival Bo:m’ is Pending Vote by Roger Bernat, which portrays the direct relationship between architecture, plays, and people by taking away the actor who act as the bridge. This play creates a play from various political systems such as direct democracy, representational democracy, absolutism and it is made entirely through audience participation. The stage becomes a parliament (architecture). Each member of the audience sits in their designated seats and receives remote controls with Yes/No on them. The stage has no actors, but instead has a large screen. As the audience answers the questions prepared by the director, they sometimes work in pairs, or create groups and select representatives and speakers for the groups and gather their opinions. As times passes, a chairperson is chosen and the police for maintaining the people is chosen, and an artist who opposes the system is also chosen.
The director did not use actors. The audience unexpectedly steps inside the world that the director has created. However, the play that has taken place in various countries, takes a different turn in Korea. This is because the audience is typically quiet and reluctant to express their opinions. The play didn't play out so smoothly for the director and the audience, and some conclusions were drawn without answering to the questions.
All Ears by Kate McIntosh also attempts a more direct connection with the director and audience by removing the actors. The stage is set up with an improvisation audio experiment room. The director sometimes becomes an audio experimentalist, sometimes a storyteller, and gathers the sound of the audience. The audience breathes inside a paper bag placed by their seats. Each time they breathe in represents how many people they have that they love in their lives. Then they throw the paper bag on the stage. The audience listens to the sound of air escaping the bag and a typewriter is brought on the stage. Also, the director asks the audience casual questions and the audience answers Yes/No and the sound of the audience’s replies are gathered. Like such, the sounds from people off the stage, people who are seated, and the director are collected and a song is created through these sounds. Every sound is recorded, and the music is played in complete darkness. In conclusion, the audience becomes the main character of the stage. The audience are the ones who create the sound, and at the same time they are the ones who listen.
Nearing the 4th of June regional elections, at this point what does democracy and voicing your opinion mean? And what role does a community play in negotiating different opinions? These works warn us that not only in politics, but with architecture and society as well, if you don’t participate and remain silent, it might lead to horrendous results.
The Material of Architecture: Props
The materials of architecture are diverse. Not only do the materials include wood and concrete, but also bricks, metal, and glass. However, in today’s society where more and more high-storey buildings are being constructed, the cities end up being covered with the cold, dry concrete and glass curtain walls. In the play, material had a lesser role compared to the actor’s theater, and stage design. In ‘Festival Bo:m’, using the little props on stage, the materials exist to be highlighted.
Jake and Pete’s Big Reconciliation Attempt For The Disputes From The Past by Jakop Ampe, Pieter Ampe & Campo portray actors who pile up wooden and clear plastic boxes, take the piled boxes apart, become trapped, sign, fight, and chase each other on stage. The boxes that they brought out with them are important as the prop becomes an important theme in the play. The wooden and plastic boxes represent the physical dryness of metal concrete buildings and glass curtain walls than can be seen around us. They are the houses, offices, apartments, cities that we are a part of. The events that happen between the two actors in the play represents our society. The two actors are brothers and they show their process of conflict and reconciliation in a limited area with their body and voices. The desolate city has been scaled down to boxes, but the conflict between people is still very evident. In desolate situations, the people try to reconcile, which shows the hope of our remaining humanity.
Material Life by Li Ning is the biographical story of China’s movie director and performance artist Li Ning. Recently, the world’s capital has been coming to China. The high industrialization resulted in a severe gap between the rich and the poor, and farm villages becoming hollow, among other serious problems within the society. Li Ning used an empty building as a performance practice room. However, the accessibility of the place is low, so even the actors didn’t want to come. He decides to overcome this reality. He created documentary videos of his plays, and used them instead of the stage. When the play begins, a movie is played on the screen and actors appear in between connecting the play with reality. Through this work, Li Ning criticizes the capitalist society. The climax is when sand pours out from above the stage. He tries to oppose the sand, but ends up collapsing. The dust from the sand creates a fog that distorts the vision. It depicts extreme capitalist society, and the resistance and failure towards it.
Space is a wide range of physical and mental terms, and it is a place where a substance or object can exist, or an event could take place. In other words, the space in a play is the stage. Normally, the stage has physical limitations, and has a clear range. It would be located somewhere in the theatre, and by the boundary between the stage and the audience seats, the watcher and the participant is divided. In ‘Festival Bo:m’, these boundaries are erased and confusion of the boundaries of the stage and the audience seats. Through such an attempt, the stage can be expanded, and the audience is inserted into the stage to also expand the stage.
Suddenly Everywhere Is Black With People by Marcelo Evelin and the Demolition Company is the topic of discussion. The actors and the audience are placed in a 9×9m square ring with dim lighting. The boundaries of the stage are erased, and the play begins when it is dark enough that you can identify people’s faces. The audience is met with naked actors who have painted their entire bodies black. They mix with the audience and the boundaries become blurred. When the audience first sees the actors they are astounded by their primitive appearances. It is when there is no metastasis in the space. The actors are like cells. They become a mass as they join together, and they separate with each other and roll and run around on their own. These cell activities become more active, and they stir through the audience, becoming both the actor and the audience. Some members of the audience will imitate the actors’ actions and become a part of them, but soon they will stay away from the actors. Through this process, the boundaries are slowly crumbled.
Architecture is not the exclusive property of a single person. It is not that of the architect, nor the building owner, or the user. It is the process itself in which it is completed through working together. The use changes the intended use of the finished building, time is added to this, and the space becomes filled up one by one. The former ‘Festival Bo:m’ focused more on introducing works that were appreciated, but this yea’s festival will be a gathering of the works that have been chosen based on their own distinctive tastes. In other words, this year’s festival aims to be an architectural process itself. Visual design works such as posters and prints, which are being newly attempted, reveals the theme through how they were made. With the themes of one’s taste, play and free combination, were initated by designers of Korea and Japan each with their own autonomy, converse freely through Skype. This reminds us of the direction our society should be heading for, and the more important aspects of architecture and theatre, which we may have forgotten about, but has been there all along.
Jakop Ampe, Pieter Ampe & Campo, Jake & Pete’s Big Reconciliation Attempt for the Disputes From the Past