Wednesday, September 28, 2011

KIAF 2011

You wouldn't know there were so many galleries in Korea until you stepped into the Korean International Art Fair.  Dozens of galleries representing Korean artists were set up at the festival along with many more from other nations. I have been to the KIAF a few times in the past (here and here) and each time it felt like a different experience.

Since I didn't attend last year's I was really looking forward to going. What I expect when I go is to see a variety of art from around Asia, and to have a good time mingling amongst art enthusiasts. 

However, after I entered the exhibition hall for some reason my excitement fell flat. Maybe it was because there were a lot of people already there at 11am (unlike in 2009). Or perhaps I just had a feeling things had changed.
Thankfully, my first reaction started to melt away as I looked through the galleries. Immediately I was impressed at the amount of sculpture within the spaces.

Do forgive me for not providing the artist's names. I know I should have written them down as I photographed them.

Yet, I did try to photograph the name with the object. I found these sculptures particularly enjoyable as the shadows were quite nice.

If you are wondering whether photography was allowed, well everyone was practically doing it and with their iPhones. Some gallery owners would go up to you and request no photos. I kindly deleted the pictures from ones that did this.

Some galleries had wall hangings of famous Asian artists that I recognized like Yayoi Kusama, Yoshitomo Nara and Lee U Fan. I did feel gleeful standing in front of them and examining them close up.

 Video art was presented, although rather scant. The following one was a stop-motion of plastic soldiers messing around near a bed of kimchi.

I always have a fondness for this kind of Japanese painting, mostly because I just love the absurdity of the content.

In the following works it appeared that glass mini-blobs were affixed to the painting. The little pearl of lights that resonated from them were quite appealing. What I noticed too, after standing there a while, was how the movement of people were reflected in these little drops. I wanted to capture it on video but should have brought my monopod.

The whimsical was there to be seen as well, especially in the following sushi-trucks and a large sculptural piece made from go-stop cards.

The following sculpture was quite fun to photograph...

Every year the KIAF hosts a guest country and this time it was Australia. However, as much as I enjoyed stepping into their space and getting a sense for Australian art it didn't have the same vibe as year's past.

I recall when India was being hosted they set them up with one large space and not segmented walls. This time Australia got their own space but things were still segmented. I would have rather enjoyed it put together in a context of some sort.

One Australian gallery had the following sound-art piece. The digital display was a rendering of a wave, while the speakers played real ocean-wave audio. I mostly enjoyed the craftsmanship of this piece, as I have tried sound art in the past.

The following is a sculpture made from mirrors and had a great reflective quality to it.

There are 2 halls at the COEX convention center that housed the KIAF, hall A and B. When I went into Hall B I was greeted by a large section dedicated to some cafes. 
I took a seat at one of the tables at the corner and enjoyed some rest. Although I didn't buy anything I felt safe sitting there. Then a Korean woman sat down at my table with a nod first. A little while later two of her friends came by and she called them over, they did have cafe stuff with them. They engulfed my table like I wasn't even there. I made a sour face and got up, while the original woman said, "Sorry" in quite an insincere way. I huffingly moved myself to another free table, while sitting down and giving them the stink eye.

This experience completely ruined my visit. I didn't have the passion to see the rest of the exhibitions and so left. However, there were personal matters also overshadowing this so maybe that is the main reason.

All together, the festival was a delight and something I might try out again next year. Unfortunately if you folks want to catch it the venue is already over. So I would suggest heading to local galleries and checking this out in 2012.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sung Si Kyung - Even Now

I'm not much into Kpop anymore, but while flipping through the old Korean TV I stumbled upon this video.
I have to say it accurately portrays how I have been feeling lately and in the past. Besides it is a sweet song.

Artist: 성시경

Monday, September 26, 2011

What's For Dinner? Yellow Lentil Curry

Sometimes a good home cooked meal is what you need to wash away city life. I have been enjoying dal or lentil curry dishes at Indian restaurants and wondered if I could make the same thing at home. After finding a recipe online I figured why not give it a try.

The above ingredients are a mix of ones I have found in Korea and those I have brought with me from a recent trip back home (turmeric, curry powder and cumin). The lentils were purchased online from
The cilantro, or coriandar, however took quite a feat to find here. I thought my local Homeplus would have some, but no. Then I ventured to the fancy-pants Lotte department store grocery section, but no. Then while at COEX recently, I figured why not give the Hyundai department store a try. Thankfully they had a bushel full packed into a plastic box for just 2,100 Won.

List of ingredients needed:
  • 250 g (1 cup) red or yellow lentils
  • 1 tbsp olive oil for cooking
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • 1-2 cloves of crushed garlic
  • 1x3 cm piece fresh ginger peeled & finely grated (for this I used packaged chopped up ginger...about a tiny teaspoon)
  • 2 tsp ground corainder
  • 1 cup coriander roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 3 1/2 cups veggie stock (I didn't have I used chicken stock instead..still looking for the veggie stock)
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • S & P to choice
How it was made:
  1. I first chopped up all the veggies and got out the necessary spices and such.
  2. The directions called for me to rinse the red lentils till the water ran clear, but I skipped this as I was hungry and lazy.
  3. I sauteed the onions on med. heat with the garlic for about 7 minutes or till things turned clear and soft.
  4. Afterwards, I added ginger, coriander (fine particles), cumin, turmeric & chili powder.
  5. Stirred for a minute and then poured in the lentils and stock. Cover and bring to a simmer.
  6. After simmering uncover and leave simmering for 20-25 minutes. Wait till the lentils are soft and thicken.
  7. Season with the S & P, along with the remaining coriander and lemon juice.

The results were quite good with a nice zing of the lemon and a good feel in the spices. Although, I need to figure out the right setting to let it simmer longer as the lentils weren't soft all the way.

Overall, a good meal to throw into the usual mix of things and something I am happy I put together.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Results of the Jelly Bean Contest

The kids did pretty well guessing close to the number of jelly beans in each of their jars. As for a class assignment I think it was a lot of fun and helped them make a big connection to the word, "estimate." The fall back was that many students were disappointed they didn't win. I suppose I could have given out the jelly beans evenly to the class and let the winner just feel good. But I sometimes feel that things can't always be "even" for these kids.

A lot of emphasis in Elementary school (especially the younger ones) seems to be that everything has to be the same and fair. I explained the rules before they put in their numbers and so they should have understood. What was good, I think, was that some classes had a group of all the same close numbers. So I let them play rock, scissors, paper to sort it out.

One of the winners came up to me the day after, and told me that her dad had eaten all the jelly beans. I thought that was pretty funny and cute. If you are thinking of doing this for a math lesson or just for fun I highly recommend it. You can have them write sentences or make up a story, who knows!?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Drama Festival Preparations

The big thing for this semester is that the kidlets will perform a play during a drama festival next month. Because of this we have been singing songs with them for the past two weeks. If you asked me what song was stuck in my head right now, it wouldn't be Kpop. It would be this:

After the 23rd time I was really hoping the kids got it down. Next week we start the scripts and every class will practice their lines. Students have been broken up into groups and so it is organized that way.

Because of all this drama festival stuff my usually programmed schedule of bookwork, games and activities have been cut down. At first I was a little dismayed but then elated because this means most of my lessons are being pushed back. I am really happy I did all that planning during the summer break, as with this festival stuff I have had little time to do side work.

I am kind of glad work has been busy because it makes life truck on and all the stressful things going on outside of life get muted out. However, I guess I have to face life at some point.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Preliminaries to the Seoul Drum Festival

If you happen to be in the City Hall section of town lately, on a weekend, and hear some drumming, well it's not in your head. From September 24th to the 26th Seoul is hosting a list of banging concerts for you to enjoy. This past weekend I met up with some ladies to enjoy the preliminaries where groups were competing for the finals.

As you can see I didn't catch the main program but still managed to see quite a feast of drumming.

Actually, what was on stage were schools giving their performance and trying to make it into the finals. I suppose my guests and myself included thought we were there for the big festival, but soon found out it was just a competition.
Despite this minor set back we still enjoyed our time together and took off for Tomatillo to have some delicious Mexican inspired lunch.

Afterwards we headed to the Cheonggyecheon to stroll along the path and enjoy a peaceful moment in Seoul.

I like the following picture because this couple reminds me of photos from the 1950's.

With Fall already here the sky has been a dazzling show of varying cloud formations and colors.

After getting some ice-cream we headed back to the festival arena to see some more performances before heading home. It seemed we were in the midst of catching the better acts, as things sounded and looked a whole lot more pumped up.

This group of highschool girls and boys were very lively and indeed you could tell they were giving it their all to the judges. The smiles seemed a bit forced, but I guess that is what you have to do.

 Accompanying their performance were movements made with fans and now and then they moved around their instruments.

Overall, they gave a smashing performance and I really hope they move on to the finals. Since the real festival is coming up this weekend, I would highly suggest checking it out and enjoying the fall air while experiencing some great culture.
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