France Express Embarks on Yearlong Journey
By Chung Ah-young
France arguably almost reigns in all cultural sectors of the world from cuisine, fashion and cosmetics to arts. With the profound historical artistry of originality and refinement, French culture is being presented to Koreans this spring with diverse performing arts and cultural events.
France Express presented by the French Cultural Center here is reaching out to a wider audience throughout the entire year.
The festival was originally held every fall but from this year the event takes place in the spring/summer and fall/winter seasons.
The center recently revealed its spring/summer season programs including dance, music and theater performances in venues all over Seoul.
First launched in 2007 to commemorate the 120th anniversary of bilateral relations between France and Korea, the events are designed to promote friendship in all sectors, from the sciences, economy and education to the arts and culture.
``This year's festival marks the fourth anniversary. From this year, we've decided to present French cultural events from spring to winter in an effort to better introduce French culture to Korean audiences,'' Lee Eun-shin, an official of the French Cultural Center, said.
The 2010 France Express features theater, exhibitions and street performances with high-quality artistry. ``France Express is not an isolated festival but a broader concept to promote French cultural events which are being held through the entire year around the country. We've selected very artistic and quality programs not just commercial productions. It is an outlet for the whole of French culture to let Koreans know more about events that are less known,'' she said.
Jerome Bel's Lutz Forster
Bel, one of the leading figures of French contemporary dance, will present the solo performance ``Lutz Forster'' at the Namsan Arts Center on April 9.
The work was created as a tribute to the German dancer Lutz Forster, a member of Pina Bausch's company who died in 2009. In the performance, Bel looks back on Forster's career as a dancer with Bausch.
Bel is an experimental choreographer who creates witty, cerebral movements that often break down the conventional boundary between the performer and the audience.
Born in the south of France, Bel studied at the Centre National de Danse Contemporaine in Angers. From 1985 to 1991, he collaborated with renowned French and Italian dancers, Angelin Preljocaj, Joelle Bouvier, Regis Obadia, Daniel Larrieu and Caterina Sagna. After participating in the direction of the opening ceremony for the Winter Olympics in Albertville, France in 1992, Bel emerged as a choreographer who presents resistant, playful and minimalistic dances and raises the fundamental questions about the performing arts.
Laurent Cabasso's Schumann
Pianist Laurent Cabasso is regarded as a versatile musician who has shown off his talent in recitals, concertos with orchestra, chamber music and teaching.
He will hold his first concert presenting Schumann's works in Korea on April 18 at Kumho Art Hall. Schumann is one of Cabasso's most favored composers and his recordings scored a big success in 1994.
Cabasso emerged as a rising pianist after winning major international competitions (Alex de Vries Prize in 1977, Geza Anda Prize in Zurich in 1982, Tokyo in 1983). Born in 1961, Cabasso studied at the Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique in Paris.
To further his technique, he continued to study with Nikita Magaloff, Gyorgy Sebok, Gyorgy Sandor and Norbert Brainin and worked with Maria Curcio-Diamand in London.
In 2005 and 2006, he performed in Europe (Belgium, Italy and Portugal), blending music and cinema, before holding his first recital in China in August 2006.
Bertrand Lavier's Carte Blanche
Bertrand Lavier has been one of the most influential artists in France over the last three decades in installation art.
He will be invited by the Foundation Hermes in Korea to create an artwork under the title ``Carte Blanche'' at the atelier of the foundation in Dosan Park in southern Seoul. The installation will be on show from April 21 to June 27.
He developed an interest in the distinction between art and reality, which inspired him to create artwork out of everyday objects. Lavier's major works such as ``Solide State'' and ``Philips dans Rue de Passy'' (Philips in Passy Street) show his taste in everyday objects.
Later, he extended his interest to public places and used street signboards, playgrounds and building spaces as his installation medium.
In 1993, he created ``Giulietta,'' a new artistic style that destroyed traditional styles in the contemporary art scene.
He has created avant-garde and inventive artworks in his own style by seeking communication between arts and the public.
The Paris-based artist has exhibited his works at numerous international venues, including New York's Museum of Modern Art, the Tate Gallery in London, the Pompidou Center in Paris, and the Venice Biennale.
The exhibition of French sculptor Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) will display 180 works ― 110 sculptures and 40 sketches ― from the collection of the Rodin Museum in Paris under the title, ``Hand of God: Rodin Retrospective" at the Seoul Museum of Art in downtown Seoul, from April 30 to Aug. 22.
Among masterpieces to be displayed are ``Hand of God,'' ``The Thinker'' and ``The Kiss.''
Rodin moved away from traditional art and adopted an innovative way as a sculptor who explored sensuality, eroticism and passion.
``The Head of Camille Claudel'' is also a representative work by Rodin, showing his mistress and fellow artist Claudel. Claudel, an aspiring sculptor, was only 17 when she met the 41-year-old Rodin in Paris in 1882. For years, they engaged in an intense affair, and Claudel became an artist, but suffered from psychological problems and was hospitalized for 30 years before her death.
``Trois'' presented by the French troupe Une de Plus is a street performance revolving around a father who protects his son who pursues his freedom. The performance will be conducted by marionettes with their faces and bodies covered in special costumes. It will be accompanied by music composed by Daniel Monge.
The show, first created in 2005 in France, was supported by Le Fourneau and received rave reviews from European audiences and critics.
``Trois,'' three in French, expresses a sophisticated and poetic world, using puppets, mimes, poles and masks. The show depicts birth, manipulation and transmission and various emotions, created by the actors' movements.
The performance will be staged as part of the 3rd Various Integrative Arts Festival in Yeouido, Seoul from April 9 to 11.