The Korea Herald


Seoul Performing Arts Festival to explore 'Borderless Questions'

By Park Ga-young

Published : Sept. 1, 2023 - 12:27

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Poster for the 2023 Seoul Performing Arts Festival (The Korea Arts Management Service) Poster for the 2023 Seoul Performing Arts Festival (The Korea Arts Management Service)

The Seoul Performing Arts Festival, an annual event that brings together top performers, is coming back in October with the theme of “Borderless Questions.”

From Oct. 6 to 29, this year’s edition will showcase 19 performance works spanning an eclectic array of genres -- encompassing theater, dance, multidisciplinary arts and experiential performances -- to various venues across Seoul including the National Theater of Korea, the National Jeongdong Theater of Korea, ARKO & Daehakro Arts Theater and Yohangza Theater.

Under the theme, “Borderless Questions,” the 2023 SPAF's collection of works will transcend the boundaries between art and technology, as well as between nations and regions, while boldly challenging the confines of established systems, according to the organizer, the Korea Arts Management Service, on Friday.

"Significant discoveries and new changes always begin with questions. Diverse questions and dialogues, embracing perspectives on contemporary society, politics, history, experiments uniting technology and art, contemplations on technology's future trajectory, transcendence of dance's traditional confines through innovative movement and art’s engagement with the climate crisis, will all unfurl within the vibrant narrative of the 2023 SPAF,” Choi Kyu, artistic director of the 2023 SPAF, said.

The 2023 edition will begin with “Corps Extrêmes" by the Chaillot National Theatre of Dance from France, which will introduce a new interpretation of dance, incorporating elements from the realm of sports, including circus and climbing.

Ahn Eun-Me Company, which will perform "Welcome to Your Korea," springs forth from the theme of “One Asia,” a concept that choreographer and dancer Ahn Eunme has consistently explored since 2019. Collaborating with artists from Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines, "Welcome to Your Korea" endeavors to transcend negative perceptions of Asians, with a particular focus on Southeast Asians, while thoughtfully contemplating the regional and hyperlocal facets of Korea and Asia.

"Theatrical Practice 3: Playwriting Practice – To Die as a Fish," by transgender author Kim Bi will present a powerful opportunity to facilitate audience engagement with the intricate theme of social diversity.

The premiere of "Energy_Invisible Words," a collaborative opus by Kim Jee-yeon, a seasoned curator and researcher, and Jeon Yoon-hwan, a visionary theater director, will spotlight the unfolding climate crisis through the evocative language of art.

Koo Ja-ha's "The Hamartia Trilogy: Lolling and Rolling, Cuckoo, the History of Korean Western Theatre" will embody a multidimensional exploration of East Asian political landscapes, colonial history and cultural identities. Meanwhile, Five Art Centre's "A Notional History" poses probing questions about individuals and nations, delving into the realm of new historical potentialities within Malaysia.

Representing France, Franck Vigroux will present “Flesh” which seamlessly melds music and dance, spanning from analog to digital domains, interwoven with visually immersive performances, culminating in a harmonious fusion of art and technology.

"Beckett's Room” by the Dead Centre invites attendees to follow a narrative exclusively through auditory channels via headphones and the orchestrated movements of objects on an actor-less stage.

GeoinArtLab’s “In.To (Independent. Together)” interweaves real-time performance with augmented reality experience through smart glasses, offering the audience a simultaneous temporal voyage through historical urban contexts.

In addition to the performances, the 2023 SPAF will feature a diverse range of programs such as the SPAF Workshop Festival and the Korea National Contemporary Dance Company's “Dance X Technology Work In Progress,” alongside the “Art & Technology International Gathering with Art Korea Lab” initiative, which facilitates interdisciplinary exchanges uniting the creative realms of Belgium, Canada, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Australia. The festival further introduces the “Creative Lab” program, dedicated to incubating new forms of contemporary art and nurturing their gradual, long-term development.

To enhance cultural inclusivity for all, the 2023 SPAF extends barrier-free accessibility to the audience, providing both Korean and English subtitles, ensuring a welcoming experience for both differently-abled and international attendees, the organizer said.