Friday, August 2, 2013

Dancing on the edge of exposure

During photo shoots, Young Ho Kang lets fly. He dances, sometimes wildly, to loud music and naturally affects those in the vicinity. They find their hips rotating, heads bobbing. Kang, though, is not the subject of the photo shoots; touted as probably South Korea's most successful commercial photographer, he is the one holding the camera, even when dancing. Well, he was - now he is finding himself on both sides of his own lens.

The transition from the highly competitive world of commercial photography to making artwork with himself as the subject has been a fluid move for Kang, an engaging man who has never had formal education in photography (or dancing). He says it is ''all one entity'' and that even dancing is a crucial part of his process.

When we speak via video hook-up from Seoul, curator Won Chang is on hand to help translate and it is soon clear Kang's tinder-dry humour (''Do you mind if I smoke?'' he asks from an apartment thousands of kilometres away) is tempered by his great seriousness about artistic integrity and originality.

Watch one of his utterly stunning videos, such as Fissler in Fantasy III, featuring actress Jun Ji-Hyun as a black swan in the rain, some pots and pans and a cameo by Kang, and it is evident we are in the presence of someone exceptional. It might ultimately be just a promotional video for a cookware company, but who said that can't be high art?


Turning the camera on himself has meant a level of exposure Kang wasn't expecting to encounter when he first started taking photos (mainly of his girlfriend) 15 years ago. It was a lark but he was noticed. He ended up doing a fashion shoot and before long was in demand for his exquisitely atmospheric work - and his unusual modus operandi, which won him the moniker ''the Dancing Photographer''. He has done more than 1200 ads for big companies such as Samsung, Giordano and South Korean Telecom, plus more than 100 cinema posters.

Ballarat International Foto Biennale director Jeff Moorfoot noticed Kang's work and is bringing him out for the festival (in its fifth iteration), where he will exhibit his latest work and conduct a workshop (which, everyone hopes, will involve some dancing). Moorfoot says this year's festival includes more than 200 events and about 500 photographers, and aims to highlight photography's powerful place in contemporary culture. ''Unlike other art forms, which are one step removed through the artist's interpretation, photography is perceived as reality, so has an immediacy, a veracity and is seen as a truthful representation,'' Moorfoot says.

That is certainly true of Kang's work - whether he is working with himself, others or saucepans - and the way he creates it. Translating is an especially demanding skill when the conversation delves into artistic concepts, but Kang manages to express himself beautifully. He is not, he says, a ''ballerina or ballerino''; he simply discovered that dancing while working with his camera - whether it has been with a fashion model, a landscape, documentary subject matter or, simply, himself - is an entirely natural gesture.

He is, he explains, like a conductor with an orchestra. Instead of using a baton to set rhythm and direction, he uses his dancing to get the metre right. Like a conductor, he also uses this method to pick up emotional content and harness it in the people around him. In dancing, Kang says, he hopes to ''hold his own emotion out in front'' of himself and then connect with the people he is photographing - and even connect with a landscape or object. ''Itself, the dancing is a kind of art,'' he says. ''A gesture of conveying my emotional expression to the end of my finger, like a conductor does.''

When Kang started doing photography, he found his subjects were always self-conscious - as was he - and it affected the results. He began to play music and dance and he found himself observing a different dynamic, with his subjects (and himself) ''forgetting pictures were being taken, creating a more impressive and deeper emotion''.

''Then, they do not care about the situation around them,'' he says. ''They could be observed more candidly. It is also a very fresh experience to find another identity within themselves. They never imagined such a thing.''

The process is, he explains, a pas de deux of sorts - a choreography that blends the spontaneous with what is often a highly constructed situation in the world of commercial photography.

In his 99 Variations he is the fulcrum around which those variations are expressed. He uses a mirror, the camera is usually on a tripod and he has found all sorts of different expressions of himself - or himselves, he suggests - in the results. Just as celebrated US artist Cindy Sherman inhabits cinematic characters in her photographic self-portraiture, Kang photos find him as different characters.

Because Kang does not distinguish between his commercial photography, artwork and self-portraiture, he doesn't find moving between them a challenge. Simply, he says, each is a different mode of self-expression: to capture other people or objects on the camera is to find ''another figure within himself''.

''They are all a variety of himself,'' curator Chang says. ''Using a mirror is the only way he can be both a producer and model at the same time. That is why he uses mirrors - to watch himself to reflect how he does act and create work to find out his own identity.''

Kang says every person has multiple aspects of identity within themselves but he wasn't prepared for this: initially, he was shy in front of mirrors watching himself, but as he persisted it became natural.

''He could become a free man from that, liberate himself in the process, discovering himself and a new identity,'' Chang says.

One of the big self-discoveries was the mutability of his gender identity. ''Although his physical gender is male, he could find himself [in the photos he took] within masculinity and femininity and a more neutral area. It was another kind of astonishment to find himself like that.''

Ballarat International Foto Biennale runs August 17-September 15.
jika diwebsite ini anda menemukan artikel dengan informasi dan konten yang salah, tidak akurat, bersifat menyesatkan, bersifat memfitnah, bersifat asusila, mengandung pornografi, bersifat diskriminasi atau rasis mohon untuk berkenan menghubungi kami di sini agar segera kami hapus.
◄ Newer Post Older Post ►

© KAWUNGANTEN.COM Powered by Blogger