South Korean artist KYUNGWOO CHUN is conducting quite an unusual performance at Sunaparanta, Goa Centre for the Arts, Altinho, Panaji on February 22 at 6 p.m., where he will be inviting 30 guests who are not known to each other to have a Goan meal together for dinner. In conversation with NT BUZZ he speaks about this performance, why he is interested in making his guests perform instead of himself and why he chose Goan cuisine for this performance
BY ARTI DAS | NT BUZZ
Q: Your performance ‘Ordinary Unknown’ is quite unusual where you are inviting 30 guests who are not known to each other to have a meal together. Can you share more with us about this concept?
I am generally interested in engaging people by enabling them to discover new meaning in everyday experiences. My work is concerned with trying to find new perspectives to everyday activities. In the performance, Ordinary Unknown (2015) I invite people to sit together to dinner, much like an ordinary meal with friends or family, but with slightly different conditions. The participants will be asked to sit in front of an unknown person and feed the meal as they would eat it.
Through the work, it is possible to experience the tastes of another person. Are we really aware of our preferences?
The act of being fed is reminiscent of our childhood. It is an act of nurturing, trust and love. This performance could heighten our own perceptions as we contemplate the act of eating, in silence.
Q: How will you define the act of eating?
Actually the act of eating is one of the most ordinary activities in our daily lives and necessary for existence. But also we easily forget that food eating is not the same thing. If we think seriously it is really amazing that the food we choose and combine get into our body and become part of us. Eating thus becomes a dialogue with oneself.
Q: Your performance is related to the act of eating and the concept of breaking bread with someone we do not know. But, when we speak about Indian culture we are quite familiar with community eating. So, is your performance different from this concept or similar? How?
Most of my performances and photographs are based on my daily life experiences and personal experience of different cultures.
This performance is developed by my own experience with the Korean tradition of dining and realisation that it is very similar with Indian tradition. In comparison with the European culture of dining, it is common that we share food at the same time.
In Korea we serve all the dishes on the table at the same time and start to eat when the oldest person holds the spoon. It seems to be that we have same foods have eaten but nobody knows how much and what combination the each person finally ate. Most of mothers used to say that they don’t like meat or good fish and the children only realised later that they actually wanted to feed the good food to their children.
Q: Do you think that reactions to such concepts are always what you perceive or do they change according to socio-cultural background of a place?
I have been doing my projects in different countries and many people ask similar questions. I don’t think there is much difference. Only we have different ways of living and expression of feeling which has been developed by living condition. To understand the background helps of course us to accept each other better and being different is important.
Q: Generally the performance art is based on the skills of a performance artist. But, in this case it is the guests who will be performing. Elaborate.
I am not interested in performing myself using my own body as a practice. But I am more interested in the idea of questioning and initiating an act for normal people who could be also creative and have the opportunity to do an unusual act which is usually not allowed or asked of them. Our society with new digital communication appears ready for variety but I believe the opposite and people are more educated by industries that are defining their tastes and roles.
I learn always new things from the participants. The important part of performance is actually not visible and the participants and audience will slowly ponder what it was reflect.
Q: What inspires you to have such performance in Goa?
The very special Goan cuisine I have tasted in London. I would like to discover a part of Goa through this [performance] work.