Magazine article Sculpture

GONGJU, SOUTH KOREA: "Nature, Man, and Sound"

Magazine article Sculpture

GONGJU, SOUTH KOREA: "Nature, Man, and Sound"

Article excerpt

5th Geumgang Nature Art Biennale

The 5th Geumgang Nature Art Biennale, which took "Nature, Man, and Sound" as its theme, was organized by Yatoo, a group that has been in existence since the early 1980s. The mix of work was international, with strong Korean representation, ranging from conceptual to Land Art-ish, purely sculptural, and sound sculptures- all seeking integration within their environment. Some works, like those by Kees Ouwens, Herb Parker, and Alois Leopold Lindenbauer, emphasized sustainability, while others, like Roger Rigorth's, emphasized poetry. All of the works were produced on site, along the Geumgang River in Gongju.

Parker's Geumgang Dialogue consisted of two structures based on early South Korean habitations. Made of thatched bamboo, the two connected chambers fit into each other, as though they were one structure with a single opening. People could sit in either side and communicate through an hourglass-like opening. German sculptor Thomas May, founder of the Grass Blade Institute, created a kind of hortus conclusus or enclosed garden. People could insert their heads into the hanging structure of Five Person Garden to view the grass growing inside. Rigorth's dragonfly-like wings, their rhythmic motion generated by the wind, floated by on the river. Lindenbauer's "living boat" gradually took shape as he planted willow trees into the earth-filled structure. Twinned with a second boat at a daycare center in upper Austria, this work became an action of cultural exchange and understanding. In Korean sculptor Ri Eung-woo's Arirang, variously sized rings hung from a bridge over the river. Reflected in the water, the sculpture, which referenced the traditional Korean song "Arirang," had a dream-like quality that reinterpreted the joy and sorrow of the song.

Cypriot artist Tatiana Ferahian's Chime of Orpheus consisted of scissors that she brought from home. Woven together like a veil, they framed the river and surrounding landscape in metaphorical associations. As Ferahian explains, "The scissors as a symbol is drawn from Greek mythology; Atropos, one of the Three Fates, used scissors to cut the thread of life. The work is a warning about the hazards to nature that result from human activity. …

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