Gwangju Blog

People You Should Know in Gwangju…Jack George

Hello Gwangju! Today we have another community member to meet. Although, if you’ve been to see any of the recent Gwangju Performance Project productions there is a good chance his face will already be familiar to you. Here in his own words is….

 

Jindo Sea Parting

Jindo Sea Parting

Name…Jack George

Occupation…English Teacher

Hometown…Peterborough, UK (don’t worry, no one else has heard of it either)

Length of time in Korea…Coming up to two years

My hometown is famous for…Henry VIII’s first wife is buried at the cathedral, but that might be stretching the term ‘famous’.

I wish I could…but it would only get me into trouble.

If I could have any superpower it would be…turning traffic and crossing lights green when I approach.

Top of Mudeungsan

Top of Mudeungsan

A book I read once a year is…I don’t usually read books more than once.

My nickname is…JG, for those who don’t have time for two whole-word syllables.

The show I am most likely to binge watch is…Mad Men, now it has come to Korean Netflix.

My favorite sport to play is…football or badminton.

The food I am best known for is…kiwis…I get told I eat them wrong.

The best discovery I have made in Gwangju is…gone now. There was an amazing Lamb BBQ place in Pungam-dong that closed down and broke my heart.

On my days off I like to…spend Saturdays recovering and Sundays playing football.

My favorite movie is…Gattaca or Dumb & Dumber.

What is your best tip for living in Korea? Learn Korean. I’ve been here almost two years and I’ve only just recently started lessons. It has helped prevent me from walking into shops, picking something up and saying “I don’t know” rather than “How much is this?” Or at least reduced the amount of times this happens…

Damyang with Students

Damyang with Students

What is your surefire way to beat the blues when you are feeling homesick? Embrace the sadness. I watch Lost in Translation and eat whatever food has been sent to me from home (Chilli Heatwave Doritos).

What is the oddest job you have ever had? I briefly worked as an Extra (Background Artist, if you will), which was surreal. I sat on a London bus dressed for summer in the middle of winter and pretended to watch Usain Bolt run past for an Olympic advert. I also worked on Scorsese’s ‘Hugo’, where I was dressed for winter (skis and all) in the middle of summer and actually watched Sacha Baron Cohen shove past chasing Asa Butterfield. It’s on Netflix, skip to 1hr 52 mins to see the side of my face. My mum fell asleep at the cinema when we went to see it.

Tell us a strange or interesting fact about you…I once spent a year being called ‘Finn Hemmingway’ (yes, misspelt, thanks HR) at a job because there was already someone working there with a similar name. I couldn’t work out whether it was Finn who was the evil alter ego or Jack… Either way, Finn is dead and Jack is here to stay.

Midsummer Night's Dream

Midsummer Night’s Dream

Do you belong to any clubs or community organizations in Gwangju? Three! At the moment I am in rehearsals for ‘The Dumb Waiter’ which is part of the GPP (Gwangju Performance Project)’s upcoming production called ‘Counterparts’. Two one-act plays both performed by casts of two. We’ve had our tech and dress June 3-4 weekend and I think the show is going to be an interesting evening, something a little different than what past productions have been like.

I had a minor role in A Midsummer Night’s Dream a few months after I arrived in Gwangju and have been involved with the GPP since – you may not recognise me as one of the hosts from the recent Masquerade themed Cabaret.

Caberet

Cabaret

I have also helped out with Adopt-a-Child-For-Christmas (not sure if all those hyphens are official) both Christmases I’ve been here. There is the Prom happening on June 10th that you’ll be sorry you missed. Otherwise there will be numerous events in the run up to Christmas. It culminated in me dressing up as Santa to hand out the gifts to orphanages we visited in 2015 and it was great to be a part of something that brought the foreigner and local communities together. There will always be opportunities to donate your time or money in the run up to Christmas. I also play with the foreigner football team on Sundays – Gwangju Inter FC – sponsored by Speakeasy. We recently got to the final of the (wooden spoon) Ulsan Tournament, losing 3-2 to a Vietnamese team. We’re always looking for more players and have a great mix of Koreans and foreigners from all over. There is a Facebook group if you’re interested.

 

To get tickets you can email: gpptickets@gmail.com

Counterparts is a pair of one act plays which tell the stories of two hitmen awaiting their next assignment and a blind date gone wrong.

Shows at the Gwangju Art Hall downtown
June 17th @ 3PM and 7PM, June 18th @ 3PM
Payment must be received by June 16th @ 5PM for advance ticket price.

June 24th @ 3PM and 7PM, June 25th @ 3PM
Payment must be received by June 23rd @ 5PM for advance ticket price.

TICKET PRICES: Advance, 10,000w; Door, 12,000W

Lex Asbury: Life Behind The Camera

Last February, I was walking through one of the Synergy events that is held at the GIC. The events are always a great showcase of local talent, where a combination of art from all mediums is available on display in one of two rooms. One room is more geared toward performances, such as music, poetry, monologues, and even interactive games. In the other room, attendees can feast their eyes on paintings, sculptures, photographs, and other visual artworks. I found an abundance of truly unique pieces up on the walls, and stopped to pause at this photograph of a small, translucent vase, containing a few delicate clusters of white flowers, accompanied by two loaves of bread. I’m not sure exactly why, but there was something very comforting in this photograph.

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I never have been around much home-cooked bread, but it felt like home. This setting that is so seemingly ordinary, exudes a crisp, clean honesty that soothes over the hectic spinning of the world for a few brief moments. The photographer is Gwangju’s own Lex Asbury. She’s always a friendly face around town, and an obvious supporter of the arts. Our battling schedules prevented us from meeting up this week to delve into her art, but we were able to correspond through a series of messages and emails that led to this interview.

JG: How did you initially get into photography?

LA: To make it simple, creativity runs in my family. My father, mother, and sisters all have creative talents in drawing, music, and craft. It was bound to also be with me as well, however, before middle school, I wanted to be an author. When I met Samantha Uphold, a close friend of my late brother’s from his high school days, I was intrigued that she was a photographer as well as an elementary teacher. I looked into her work and was mesmerized. It was then that photography as a career and investment clicked. I, then, picked up a camera and haven’t put it down since middle school.

JG: I read the biography on your website. I see you earned your Bachelor’s of Science in Photography at Indiana Wesleyan University in August 2014. Is there anything else people should know about you?

LA: There is a lot that isn’t mentioned in my biography, but some of the most important things that you should know about me are that I am a people-person, extroverted on the extreme end of the Myerrs-Briggs evaluation test, and really value connection and relationship between people. I cannot drink coffee or have chocolate, so that’s why tea’s my go to drink. I also have a deep love for cacti and succulent plants, cooking, and corgis.

JG: What are your philosophies to photography? What do you look for? What do you want to capture?

LA: It’s never simple when I ‘look’ for something. I like meaning, symbolism, and simplicity whenever I style, plan and create a piece. Just like when I look for a book to read, whatever I photograph or research needs to capture my interest. As most of my work reflects, that test to revolve around people, food, and the relationships between things, products, and possessions, and how people integrate them and other people into their lives. Now, when it comes to my commercial work, I want to photograph what I idealize, the way I see people and how I want to synthesize my taste in design and food, as well as lifestyle. With my conceptual work, however, I want to touch on relations and all the dynamics of them. The good, the bad, and the ugly, because that’s a more accurate depiction of what connections with people are. It’s never simple, easy, and ideally ‘picture-perfect.’ Relationships are messy, difficult, and always with the obstacles that come. These things should never stop us from the pursuit of connection. I want to explore why we are social beings, and what that means for my life and as well as a general reflection for others to ponder.

 

JG: In what ways has your approach to the art changed over time? Any certain phases?

LA: I don’t think that I went through any extreme phases where I changed what I wanted to photograph. I can say that when I started looking into photography I would photograph anything and everything. That’s no longer the case. As I began my education with photography and began developing myself as an artist and person, I realized that my time, thoughts, and talent are extremely valuable. I need to treat it as such, so I began to be selective and intentional with my photos. Sociology began to have a strong influence in my work, and in university, the more sociology courses I took, the more I changed my approach to why I photograph people.

JG: In the day of age where everyone has a camera on their phone and is able to Instagram their way through life, how has the art of photography changed? Has the role of professional photographers been cheapened or devalued in any way?

LA: I believe that art has been evolving right along with how technology has been advancing. I think the only thing that really gets depreciated is the idea of what separates artists from everyone else. All of these apps and easy access to programs for editing and instant results blurs the lines between those who are intentional with creating artwork and those who are utilizing what advancements have given them. There will always be other factors, like professional experience, reputation, and education that separates those groups of people. You can’t stop the way that people utilize what is offered to them. But, the message and quality of the art will always speak for itself.

JG: In relation to that question, are there certain technical aspects that average person is oblivious to? Is there an example of a photograph where a professional photographer would love it, but the average person may be unimpressed?

LA: I think the main thing that people don’t tend to understand is post-processing stage. Everything that happens after I take a photograph. I have to upload all of the photos, make a more narrow selection, then, I go through about 2 to 3 stages of editing for the images after that. Film photography is different but the editing can take just as long. It takes time to go through the rigmarole of making a final image. It’s not just clicking the shutter button and the image is completely perfect. In regards to preference between professionals and others, I believe other artists can really evaluate and see the design and techniques more closely and discuss the pieces on a more theoretical basis. People who are not experienced in art may only be able to appreciate the visual aspects of the work. It’s just a general opinion of the question.

JG: What equipment do you use? How important is equipment?

LA: I currently use a Canon 5D Mark II for all of my digital photography. I mainly use my kit 50mm because I like the sharp focus. For film, I use a Canon AE-1. Personally, equipment can only do so much without any purpose or intention from the user. You have to make the camera take the kind of photos you want to take, and use the editing programs to your own devices.

JG: I see on your website that a lot of your artwork seems to be personal (people and places from your life), how do these series come about?

LA: Most of the work on my website was either created entirely by me, or along with someone I know, whether that be family, friends, or clients. All in all, if I didn’t have any of these people encouraging, influencing, and investing in me, there would not be any of these pieces of work nor would I have pursued the craft at all. There is no one single situation, but a multitude of many encounters that have made this work more personal. Another tell-tale would be my name of my photography site. It’s my name, Lex Asbury, because this is all a reflection of who I am and what I hope to present myself as as an artist.

JG: Which ones are more candid and which ones are staged? How do you feel this affects the final result?

LA: To be honest, all of my commercial and conceptual work is staged in some way. you can’t avoid having even a little bit of staging when you have either a certain look or goal in mind when crating an image or a message. Candid work is usually easier to capture in weddings and some portraiture. There is nothing wrong between images having the ‘candid’ aspect or being staged down to the most minute detail. Photography has changed since it’s conception long ago, and it’s days of being held as absolute truth and transparent reality. We know that there is some form of editing and manipulation in a photograph from start to finish. I think that it’s up to the photographer or artist to define what their truth is and what photography means to them. For me, the camera is a tool that helps me facilitate the conversation that I have with the rest of the world about what I want my photography to say about myself and the perspective that I hold. It doesn’t change what I hope to communicate, rather, it helps me improve and enhance that thought or moment.

JG: Who are some of your favorite photographers and/or series?

LA: A really inspiring series to me is what Angelica Dass did with Pantone and portraiture in “HUMANAE”. It’s a beautiful way to incorporate the international archive of color, Pantone, and appreciation for the diversity of humanity with their skin tone. It’s such an amazing way to look at people in a positive way. I studied sociology in university as well, so this series speaks to what I believe about making connections far and wide with people.

Another person who has really influenced me has been Diane Arbus. She was a documentary photographer during the 1960s and took such poignant portraits of those who were extreme outcasts of society at the time: transvestites, dwarfs, giants, nudists, and a plethora of odd individuals. There was only black and white film photography, so people upheld the medium a little more so than they do now. It wasn’t so much the subjects that captures me, but her direct approach to them. She framed them front and center, in such a way that you couldn’t shy way from who they were. Not only was that dynamic, but she was always respectful, intentional, and always gained consent and continual approval from her subjects to use them. She never demeaned or humiliated them with her photography. I value to be able to do similar with my work in the day of extremely connected people.

JG: Goals for the future?

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Photographer, Lex Asbury

LA: Currently, my photography has been on a hiatus as work here in Korea, but I hope to pursue high education in the future. I also hope to create some more personal series that I’ve been only researching and planning at the moment. One that I can mention is a more involved food series that pays tribute to the symbolism and intentions of old Flemish and European painters of still life pieces. Those beautiful,  simple paintings held great reflection and retrospect of life and death through what seems to be rather unintentional arrangements of food, dishware, plants, and other seemingly unrelating items. I adore those paintings and want to make work just as intentional.

[End of interview]

Check out Lex’s official photography page at lexasbury.com for her entire portfolio and the most up to date information.

Headcleaner.

Headcleaner

 

Sometimes a photo captures a deceptively simple action, yet one which imbibes greater than expected emotional depth. In this case, the context within which the image was taken is key to the images power to transport the viewer to a calmer, gentler, perhaps even a blissfully uneventful space. Perhaps if we know that this photo was taken on Mudeung Mountain behind Ji-san-dong around lunchtime on your average weekday in late spring, we can cathartically exhale with the subject at hand. We are blessed to not see the face of the man above. Therefore, we can imagine him in an inward-looking, yet all-the-while unremarkable moment. Dressed like your average salary-man or Mormon missionary, he seems in dire need of a break from either scene.

It was a normal day; the day he chose to walk past me heading northward, ascending along the long stone wall which marks the city-side face of Mudeung Mountain’s lower slopes. A Tuesday I think it was. So unremarkable was this day that I had entirely forgotten about this photo by the time the negatives were returned to me just a week later. Only upon further inspection under a lightbox did I remember the surprise I felt at seeing a man, alone, without visor or hiking poles, hundred dollar Goretex pants and a pocket-sized speaker blasting the best tunes that 1977 had to offer. The contrast between the subject’s appearance and his surroundings speaks to my own recent conditioning about what accounts for acceptable hiking attire. Yet, it is his current outfit which provide the highlights necessary to separate his strikingly white office shirt from the relative shade of his surroundings. Both of these contrasts, one cultural-conceptual, and the other physical-visual work to draw our curious eyes to this lone figure.

Having lived in several east-Asian countries in the past twenty years, I have become both a sucker for, and harsh critic of scenes of Asia which I find visually cliché. The image above, for better or worse, is a wonderful example of the former. Not only does it speak to the contrasts described above, but it does so in a way which allows a nearly haptic sensation of the scene surrounding the subject. Rather than utilizing negative space to highlight the environment surrounding a miniscule subject in old Korean ink paintings, the subject of the photo is central and clear. As such it may reveal the western art-educated eyes of its taker. However, the affect of the relationship between subject and surroundings remains similar to what we expect from more traditional visual arts. It puts us, the viewers, in that space. We can feel that subtle warm wind on our skin, and hear it crescendo through the trees both above and below. We can simultaneously look at great expanses both outward and inward, both felt, yet neither actively seen. However, it is this beauty within the mundane which ultimately clears this mans head, and ours as well. It elevates this photo from a mere man trudging up a mountain to just one more unexpectedly serene day in our city.

[Photo taken using a Nikon FE2 with a 50mm f1.4 lens shooting Ilford Super XP 400. This film can be developed like color film using C-41 processes, yet retains almost an absurdly high amount of contrast, as seen in the relationship between the shirt and surroundings above.]

 

(Photo & Text by Marty Miller)

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What to Do This Weekend: Happy Hour, A Fillm Screening, and Weird Science!

Hello Gwangju!

Looking to plan your weekend? As always we got some great events happening around town. Let’s see what’s going on.

Thursday, June 8th

Courtesy of Zumba with Thando

Courtesy of Zumba with Thando

You don’t want to start your weekend in a sluggish mood do you? Begin things in a healthy way by taking part in Zumba at the GIC!  Hey Bill, what is Zumba? It is a cardio class that is fit for everyone, from beginners to advanced participants. Make sure you wear some comfy clothes, bring a towel, and of course a bottle of water. The class begins at 7 p.m., and is led by veteran Zumba instructor Thando Mlambo. For directions to the GIC, please go their website. You can also get more details about the class by visiting the Facebook event page here. Zumba is always a great way to get physical!

Friday, June 9th

Courtesy of Speakeasy

Courtesy of Speakeasy

Take advantage of the happy hour specials at Speakeasy tonight! Red Rock drafts are only 3,000, and Jameson is only 4,000 won. While you there, ask the always friendly staff what the cocktail of the week is. Happy hour runs from 8 p.m., to 11, so you have plenty of time after a hard day’s work to enjoy. For more details, and to see what else is going on at Speakeasy, please go to their Facebook page here.

Saturday, June 10th

Courtesy of the Gwangju Art Class

Courtesy of the Gwangju Art Class

The Saturday art class at the GIC will feature another male figure drawing class. It all begins at 12:00 p.m. with some free drawing exercises. The model will then arrive at 12:30. Once the model arrives, the doors will be locked for their privacy (the model will be nude). The cost of the class is only 10,000 won, and all materials will be provided. For directions to the GIC, you can click on the link to their website. You can also find out more about the class by visiting the Facebook event page. This Saturday’s class will be led by local artist Áine Byrne.

Courtesy of Gwangju KOTESOL

Courtesy of Gwangju KOTESOL

This Saturday the Gwangju-Jeonnam chapter of KOTESOL will be having their monthly meeting. They  welcome members, and non-members for an interesting afternoon of professional development. There will be two presentations from local members this month that will hopefully give you some ideas that you can use in the classroom. You’ll also get the chance to meet and network with fellow teachers. Meetings are held at Gwangju National University of Education, and you can click on this link for full information. You can also find out what’s going on by checking out their Facebook page. The meeting starts at 1:45, and the first presentation will begin shortly after 2 p.m. If you are interested in presenting at a future meeting, or know someone who is, please talk to a chapter officer at the meeting.

Courtesy of Loft 28

Courtesy of Loft 28

I know you don’t need any particular reason to go out on a Saturday night, but I got two great ones for you anyways. Speakeasy has been bringing quite the number of live bands to play in Gwangju, and they continue this weekend with another great show. The band Bold Coast will be rocking the rafters for the always enthusiastic local crowd. The band will go on sometime after 10:30 p.m., and while you’re waiting the terrific staff will take care of all your drinking needs. For more information about the show, please go to Speakeasy’s Facebook page. If you’re down near the Chonnam back gate area then you’ll want to head to Loft 28 for another one of their themed Saturday parties. What is tonight’s theme? Weird Science! Weird Science? One of the reasons is to celebrate a local Gwangju resident who will be getting his P.h.D. There will be 3,000 won test tube shots (get it?!), and of course great music being played by the Loft DJs. The party begins at 11 p.m., and you can find more info by going to Loft’s Facebook page.

Sunday, June 11th

Courtesy of the GIC

Courtesy of the GIC

If you want to see how talented some of our local residents are, then you need to go to the GIC this afternoon for the Make it Great in 48 film screenings. For the past three years in a row, citizens of Gwangju have taken part in this worldwide contest where participants only have 48 hours to produce a short film. The filming took place a couple of weeks ago, and now they’re ready to be shown. A winner will be chosen, and since this is a film screening, popcorn and soda will be available for purchase. For more info about this event, please go to the Facebook event page. It all begins at 1:30 p.m.

One last thing!

Dog walking at a local shelter will be taking place on Saturday, June 10th this weekend. If you would like to help and volunteer along with other animal lovers, please go to the Gwangju Animal Shelter Volunteer page on Facebook for more info.

Essentials with JD # 287 ** BECOME A DJ AT GFN – APPLICATION DEADLINE EXTENDED TO JUNE 13TH**

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Every wanted to be on radio? Ever wanted to create your own show and play the music that you like? Well you can! And you have 1 week left to apply for this recruitment season and you can be on radio for 1 month – Monday – Saturday from 9am – 10am! Also if you want to apply with a friend and have your own co-host – go ahead ~~~ the concept of the show is totally up to you.

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DEADLINE : JUNE 13TH

Also if you cannot make the live show – segments can be recorded according to your schedule – so just give it a shot!

 

Anyone can apply – regardless of nationality and age – so check below for further info and get your application in ASAP.

 

Find more info here :http://www.gfn.or.kr/bbs/board.php?bo_table=comm_free&wr_id=285

 

To sign up, please send your application form to gfn@gfn.or.kr

 

Below is the information in Korean.

 

GFN에서 “청취자 라디오 진행자”를 공개 모집합니다.

GFN 음악 프로그램 진행에 관심이 있고

진행에 무리가 없는 영어실력을 갖춘 분이라면

나이, 성별, 국적, 경력에 관계 없이 누구나 지원하실 수 있습니다.

     

오디션을 통해 선발된 진행자는

한 달 동안 VIVA DJ 음악 프로그램을 책임지고 이끌어가게 됩니다.

매월 새롭게 선정된 청취자 진행자가 출연해서

지역에서 살아가는 소소한 일상과 음악을 소개합니다.

 

청취자 여러분의 많은 관심과 참여 부탁드립니다.

 

□ Audition Date : Saturday, 17th of June

□ Final Announcement : Monday, 5PM, 19th of June

□ Host (DJ) fee will be discussed at the audition and paid the month after your show.

   

□ Contact : 062-460-0941 / gfn@gfn.or.kr

 

Goodluck,

 

JD