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RT PROFILER 11, 22 JULY 2015

Art & healing on the streets of Ansan

Ansan Street Arts Festival, South Korea

Tristan Meecham
Fun Run Fun Run
photo Studio Pal
Ansan Street Arts Festival (ASAF) is one of South Korea’s many resplendent arts festivals. Largely dedicated to arts on and of the streets, the vibrant regional city of Ansan blocks off its main streets once a year to fill the epic civic square and precinct with performances and installations from all over the world.

In 2014 Ansan, located on the coast of the Yellow Sea south-west of Seoul, experienced a tragic ferry disaster that saw hundreds of local families lose their beloved children. With the wound still very deep in the national psyche, Ansan Street Arts Festival was cancelled that year.

In 2015, the festival returned with a very clear remit to re-instill joy and pride in the people of Ansan. Over three days in March approximately 100,000 locals flocked to ASAF to experience a gloriously ambitious program featuring many local South Korean performers, European outdoor aerial specialists, pyro-artists and many more. The city was ready to feel the light on its face again.

Australia was represented by Melbourne artists Tristan Meecham and Bec Reid (All The Queens Men) with their endurance spectacle Fun Run and sound artists Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey with the Megaphone Project.

All The Queens Men, FUN RUN

Bec Reid
A one time only event in the middle of the ASAF program, Fun Run directly involved over 700 local community performers in the work itself and was experienced by an audience of over 30,000 people.

This was Fun Run’s first international appearance after presentations at the Next Wave, Darwin and Sydney Festivals. For independent artists it felt a timely opportunity for us to share the work with new audiences and markets and to explore the new artistic and cultural connections we’ve made in South Korea. We’re committed to returning to the land of K-Pop in the near future.

Fun Run is inspired by the story of Phidipeiddes who ran the first marathon in Ancient Greece. For five hours Tristan runs the marathon’s 42.2kms on a treadmill while surrounded and buoyed by local community performances staged every five minutes. The quest for greatness through an immense act of endurance becomes a collective marathon as audiences and community performers alike will Tristan over the line with much confetti.

Fun Run Fun Run
photo Studio Pal
For eight months we collaborated with ASAF seeking out locals with extraordinary physical talents who were primed to be publicly and spectacularly celebrated. The event involved performances by traditional drummers, teenage cheerleaders, junior and senior taekwondo experts, bodybuilders, musical theatre students, aerobics champions, senior line dancers, amateur street dance groups, college K-Pop kids, patriotic belly-dancers, trampolining devotees and sports cyclists. As the protagonist—Tristan as “Humphrey”—ran the marathon, much-loved South Korean actress Younghee Park emceed the event with bilingual aplomb while a troupe of professional dancers became the “Haus Da Humphrey,” performing for an audience of thousands.

It was deeply moving for us to present Fun Run as part of this moment of healing for Ansan. Together the local and visiting international artists and audiences achieved something literally superhuman, artistically transcending the everyday and reminding us that the human spirit endures when we become truly greater than the sum of all of our parts.

Megaphone Project Megaphone Project
photo Jessica Devereux
Megaphone Project

Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey
An extraordinary cloud of sound envelops our small Korean and Australian team, its corollary seen in the teeming visual maelstrom of the festival. We are already immersed, visually and aurally, so the installation creates points of focus which guide, then beguile. Thousands of local people, recently struck with tragedy, are ready more than ever to engage with their own sonic identity amid the myriad artworks. Working with local artist Kim Jun-su, we asked about a listening culture, with local answers that fed into the live soundfield, and became a spontaneous live discourse, a wireless multichannel conversation about Ansan.

Our performance at Ansan precedes a new work that we are developing with Kim Joho of Project Jamsang.

From the artists’ website: The Megaphone Project is an interactive sound field, an installation that allows people to discover through sound and physical play a world of private and public broadcast. Twenty-five red megaphones of different shapes and sizes create an interactive performance field for both the public and artists. Over eight years The Megaphone Project has toured Australia, the United States and Finland and been experienced by some 90,000 people.

Ansan Street Arts Festival (ASAF). All The Queens Men, Fun Run, artists Tristan Meecham, Bec Reid, Willoh S Weiland, Nick Roux, Em O Brien, Hyemin Han, Jin-Hyun Yim; Megaphone Project, Australian artists Madeleine Flynn, Tim Humphrey, David Wells, Jessica Devereux, Rosie Carr, South Korean artists Kim Yunjung, Hwan Seok Lim, Kim Jun-su, volunteer Sam Kim; Ansan, South Korea, 5 Jan-5 March

RealTime issue #127 June-July 2015 pg. web

© ; for permission to reproduce apply to [email protected]

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