Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Freedom to be bad

If you haven't heard of K-pop (Korean pop music), Gangnam Style, or Korean K-pop star Psy, I apologize. You unfortunately can not unknow this. But it's not all terrible. Or it is, but that's kind of the point.

First off, and rather surprising to me:

Anish Kapoor Dances Gangnam Style for Liberty

The original is supposed to be a satire of the people from a district in Korea called, "Gangnam" where the people prefer more expensive material items. Psy compares it to Beverly Hills, California.

Anish Kapoor's usual work is not entirely without a sense of humor, but for an otherwise sober artist the video is somewhat surprising. Perhaps less so for Ai Weiwei, but I know very little about him beyond his working under an excessively restrictive Communist government and being jailed for breaking those restrictions. So his dancing around to a Korean pop song makes some sense actually.

For Kapoor one might say it's fun to loosen up, but I think there's more to it. For one thing, it's a way to leverage an admittedly silly piece of popular culture for a beneficial cause. Now, whenever I hear that song (which is played incessantly and is actually youtube's most played video) I'll think of Anish Kapoor and Ai Weiwei and his plights. (Maybe it's a riff on Andy Warhol's Campbell's Soup Cans)?

For art educators its got an extra added benefit. It gives us, however temproarily, a lead-in to talking about issues of censorship, abuses of power, Eastern art, different forms of government, and even comparisons between the work of Kapoor and Ai Weiwei; ie. how are these artists similar/different, etc. Something like this is actually an invaluable tool to connect to a student's world. They don't even have to like the song, but will be undoubtedly aware of it.


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