Alex and Chickpea Do Korea

2011 Hi Seoul Festival highlights

When I lived in New Haven, Connecticut, my favorite time of year was early summer (and this is not only because winter was long gone). Every June, New Haven hosts the International Festival of Arts and Ideas.

The Festival of Arts and Ideas is a two-week event bringing world class performances to the small city: dance, theater, concerts, art installations, circus acts and lectures on current events.

Best of all, most of the events were free.

To top it all off, New Haven’s hipster and counter-culture scene put on their own festival, Ideat Village, featuring local music, burlesque shows and the weirder aspects of the Elm City.

On those June days, I would stop by my favorite coffeeshop, grab an ice coffee and bagel, and walk the transformed streets.

I haven’t seen anything like it since … until last month when I visited the annual Hi Seoul Festival in South Korea’s capital city.

The Hi Seoul Festival is held in the spring and fall of every year. It’s a cultural event bringing together hundreds of artists in many different stripes for (mostly free) performances throughout the city. For the 2011 May Hi Seoul Festival, there was modern dance, puppetry, miming, theater, music from around the world, art installations and some very strange performance art.

There’s no better way to share the event with you than through videos and pictures so here we go:

Mimes in Korea? Who would’ve thought?! But there was Ko Jae Kyung, perhaps the best known mimist in Korea, performing a free show.

Pretty women, bouncy balls, a midget: I’m no fan of modern dance, but this performance by USD Modern Dance company held my interest.

A headless old man, killer fish, skeletons — you have to check out this performance by Theatre Nomad.

Behind the News, Bipartisan Guide to Ridiculous Legislation

Bipartisan Guide to Ridiculous Legislation: Ronda Storms hates public art

stormsThat State Senator Ronda Storms is a very talented woman. I mean, what other Florida politician can create such disdain among large swaths of the state’s population? She’s pissed off gays, First Amendment champions, librarians, science teachers and now, art lovers.

SB 1104 seeks to repeal the 30-year-old Art in State Public Buildings Program, a state provision that requires a small percentage of money for public buildings go into artwork for said structures. In an interview with a Tampa Tribune reporter, Storms says the bill is only fair while the state deals with a tough budget crisis:

“While I certainly believe art and culture provide wonderful benefits to Florida, I do not believe that at this time most Floridians want to continue this luxury when people are losing their jobs and seniors and children are losing health services.”

But is the outlay of money for public art really harming the state’s coffers? The Tribune had some interesting findings:

Under the program, the cost of the art can’t be more than half of 1 percent of the total cost of the building or $100,000, whichever is less. The average the state paid for a work of art was $7,955. The state spent a total of $406,725 for public art in 2005; $294,069 in 2006; and $701,389 in 2007.

The statute applies only to buildings with public access. It excludes prisons, secure areas, maintenance sheds and other structures the public normally would not visit.

Under the statute, more than 1,000 works of art have been purchased and installed in state buildings, including universities, state parks, Department of Transportation district offices and state agency buildings.

Just like parks, recreational facilities and libraries, art adds a quality of life to a city. Considering public art money is a fraction of Florida’s budget, and may even generate money by impressing tourists and possible new businesses, this bill is positively ridiculous.

That must be why Storms recently added a sunset clause to the bill that would allow the public art program to return in 2011. A huge outcry among art lovers probably prompted that change of heart. Maybe repeated calls and e-mails to her office (and to your own state lawmaker) would nudge her away from the bill altogether.

(By the way, the House sponsor is Republican Rich Glorioso from Plant City. I don’t want him to get off the hook either. Contact his office here.)

Rating: 4 bong hits bongbongbongbong