MAKILINC with Michael Steger

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During the CUT International Performance Art Festival in Germany last year, we were so honored to be asked to perform first and to be welcomed by no less than the Open Space founder himself, Michael Steger. He was personally introduced to us during the event, held at the Berlin Walls East Side Gallery last May. As if destined, we met again after eight months during the Korean Experimental Arts Festival (KEAF). We felt like we were long lost brothers, not necessarily separated at birth. We tried to catch up and relive old memories. In doing so, we could not help but become instant yet reluctant art critics. For instance, he observed that when KEAF moved from the capital Seoul to the touristic but smaller city of Seogwipo on Jeju Island, something happened. We can never forget his answer: This changed the whole direction of this festival. In Seoul, we were quite used to the situation of performing in the Seogyo Art Center. This situation is very similar around the world. Here, you have an art space and the metropolitan audience is prepared to see art. In Seogwipo, the festival director Kim Baek-Ki, programmed our performances in the middle of a traditional market in the city center. I had a great time diving in one of the huge Korean fish tanks with a pretty big fish; so my performance, which was largely built upon humor, suited the market well, with owners getting angry if you disturbed their businesses too much. [caption id="attachment_104162" align="alignleft" width="270"] Vim Nadera (left) with gold and silversmith and Open Space founder Michael Steger at the CUT International Performance Art Festival in Berlin[/caption] This is not an easy challenge. What can you express artistically in a commercial space like a traditional market? On one hand, these markets are already in danger of dying out. On the other hand, you dont want to merely become light entertainment to cheer up the mood of the shoppers. The best experience in KEAF this year for me, however, was the day when we did peace protest performances at the pier against the American navy base, which is under construction in Jeju. In spite or because of the horrible condition of the weatheran ice storm and very coldevery performance had enormous power. It was almost like fighting for survival with performance as your weapon. Also, the geopolitical background of this protest performance made this action really important, even though the festival lost a few sponsorships due to this action. Coming from the Westdespite the huge language barrier, which is even more extreme in South Korea it is thrilling to work with Asian artists because of the cultural differences and the completely different mindset. Everything is different, the social behavior and certainly, the artistic expression. Groups like the Physical Poets from Japan, for example, find their contemporary expression in the roots of old Asian techniques like yoga, chi gong, and butoh. These influences do not really exist in our cultural roots, and it is wonderful to allow yourself to be influenced by this depth. Many of the Asian artists I met, Kim Baek-Ki, for example, see themselves as shamans in the modern world, people who want to heal the traumas of the past in their culture. This I find inspiring.We found it inspiring, too. We founded, consequently, the very first Makiling Inter-Cultural Arts Festival (MAKILINC) that ran from Feb. …