Saturday, August 30, 2008

Body Painting Festival and Daegu

Daegu somehow managed to get the World Body Painting festival to come for a visit. I discovered the event shortly upon my return to Korea from a my all to short holiday in Chicago while standing on the street in the middle of the bright morning sun and wishing to the merry gods that I was in air conditioning. Somehow even in my jet lagged state I managed to recall it during the following week and do some google searching to pull up the info.

After reading through the site in English I realized there would be a Body Circus/Ball in advance of the day shows at the stadium and the only thing I could think about that was that I wanted to go. So I made an appointment to pick up some tickets in person ahead of the party and in the meantime made do with trying to stay on top of everything else going down in my work life.

As the date approached I dealt the last minute franticness of a run to Seoul and arrived in the 'Gu at six in the evening and just ahead of my rendezvous with the Jamaican who was going to accompany me to the party.

Originally I intended to make a new outfit for the Circus but my idea and reality chose not to conicide. I wanted to be colorful and pink and the outfit I designed fell flat so I wore instead a pink silk blouse I had made some time ago thinking that it would have the appropirate amount of color and flow.

At eight I walked down to pick of the Jamican with a cheese sandwhich in tow since she had not eaten and I had only barely had time to eat. On the walk I gave her a scarf that I had found that just screamed it would match whatever she would be wearing and was rather mollified that the chamelieon scarf which shifted between pruprle and gold did just that.

I realize, that rather stupidly, I had a number of expectations. I should no better. I live in Korea. Korea will completely dash any hope or expectation that one has. What did I expect in going to the Body Painting Festival? Ahhh, so much. I wanted an evening to hang out with some like minded individuals from around the world. I wanted to meet lovely young models from Europe and watch them get painted. I wanted to see Daegu take of the conservative mantel that it is shrouded in for a chance to be free and unusual and unique in Korea for accepting the fair. So many mislaid expectations really.

What I got was reality and reality I should have been prepared for. When we arriaved early to get done up we discovered that being foriengn we really stood out in the crowd of upper class Daegu denzians. Somehow this party was full of the kinds of Koreans who attend black and white balls, and galas, and openings. This was immeditaly the opposite of the crowd I had anticpated. I thought with hope that perhaps as the evening wore on it might change. Then, since we were early, the Korean camera crews decided to fixate on both myself and the Jamican. She had the shorter end of the stick as she actually ended up being interviewed by one of the news outlets. I new better than to let that happen, but only barely. There were so many bright lights and all those bright lights were following us around. It was annoying. It was very Korean.

I won't get started about Korean media circuses here, because that is a conversation for an entirely different day.

As it was we finally managed to escape into the cool empty darkness of the ballroom. And that is what it felt like, empty darkness. Mind you it was somewhat crowded with the jet set Korean crowd, but those same jet setters stood aloof. This was not a group of people that let their hair or anything else hang loose. The artists entered the hall shortly after that, a smallish troupe of beautiful people with wonderful ideas and talent. As soon as they walked in and began to congregate the news crew swept over them isolating them. Watching this from the sidlines created a feeling of unease. I do love being in Korea, but this was not the best representation of Korea. Here is where the underlying unbalance of the culture stands out. Koreans staring lost at foriegners as if aliens have just touched down and invaded the planet. It's distracting. It's embaracing. And it is what it is, it is Korea.

The night could only be saved by the interjection of some alcohol and the hope for something magic. Fortunately, these things were coming.

1 comment:

matteh said...

Hi Sara,
sorry you had such a disapointing time at the festival. Sometimes going to things in Korea with high hopes sets you up for disapointment. I hope you enjoy my take on the event and maybe I'll see you next time. m