As Dr Stephen Epstein writes: "Although a New Zealand audience may initially find it a trifle odd that artists Bona Park and Eunji Cho, South Korean women born in the 1970s, pay homage to a septuagenarian Italian painter in titling a performance project that blends music, video and more," seeing the Michelangelo Pistoletto Band perform live when they visit Wellington will make the influence of their namesake and his "total art" �apparent.
Drawing on a Korean tradition of "edgy, subversive humour that runs back to the pre-modern period, when itinerant troupes would entertain villagers with masked drama and other forms of comedy that satirised the aristocrats in power," the artist duo attracted the attention of New Zealand curators Aaron Lister and Karl Chitham.
On Tuesday 7 August from 5:30 - 7pm come to City Gallery Wellington for a live performance by the Michelangelo Pistoletto Band. The evening will also include a selection of films from Artists' Film International; an ongoing collaborative project showcasing international artists working with film, video and animation as selected by 12 partner organisations around the world. There will also be a cash bar and a live performance by local artists Samin Son and musician Matt Brennan, performing together as Fiends. After MPB have played Fiends will give a response in the North Programme space.
While traveling on a Curatorial Tour of Korea and China supported by the Asia:New Zealand Foundation and Creative New Zealand, Lister and Chitham met Bona Park and Eunji Cho in an artist's residency programme and decided their subversive act would resonate with a New Zealand audience, especially through its use of quirky performative modes to question a changing urban landscape.
After this meeting the Seoul based performers will tour New Zealand in early August, bringing their unique ambient electro-pop love songs to Auckland, Wellington, Hamilton and Dunedin. The MPB will perform in Hamilton as part of the Spark Festival where they will give a workshop, a performance and display work in a group exhibition at Massey University's RAMP Gallery called Raised Voices. The band perform in all manner of garb and use abandoned landscapes to highlight the massive social changes happening in South Korea, striving to make familiar urban landscapes unfamiliar. As Epstein writes of one of the videos, "Park and Cho pedal a swan boat backwards in a park pond that has since disappeared to make way for redevelopment, and a disembodied voice recites to the beat of a rudimentary and mechanical techno backing track." The work is edgy, eerie and haunting, representing a new generation's struggle to find their place in the increasingly commercialized and urbanized spaces of a country embracing Western ideals. Their work is also currently on exhibition at City Gallery Wellington until 23 August as part of the North Programme. The exhibition features the band's music videos from the last two years and premieres newly made work.
Generously supported by the Asia New Zealand Foundation and SPARK International Festival, the Michelangelo Pistoletto Band (MPB) Tour is a joint initiative between the Calder & Lawson Gallery, Hamilton, and City Gallery Wellington.
The tour continues to the Waikato Museum on Thursday 9 August, St Paul Street Gallery, Auckland, Friday 10 August and the Dunedin Public Art Gallery on Saturday 11 August.
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