Celebrations of diverse Asian cultures kicked off on August 19 in Gwangju, where cultural organizations from 19 Asian countries have gathered for 2012 ASIA Culture Week. Running until August 28, this year’s festival is designed to bring new attention to ancient routes such as the Silk Road and the Paper Road that historically linked the peoples of Asia through art and trade. The festival was also prepared as an opportunity to reunite artists across Asia and encourage the creation of similarly innovative, cross-border cultural exchanges for the 21st century.
The opening ceremony on August 20 was attended by the culture ministers of six nations -- Korea, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan.
The six ministers participated afterwards in the Korea-Central Asian Culture Summit, the high point of 2012 ASIA Culture Week, where they adopted and announced a joint declaration outlining plans to cooperate for expanded cultural exchange and sharing of cultural resources. The declaration also included references to the Gwangju Asian Culture Complex, construction on which is scheduled to be completed in 2014, as an important center for research and education for the promotion of cultural diversity and mutual understanding as well as the cultivation of professional personnel in the culture and arts industries.
Meanwhile, at Asia Munhwa Maru, the 2012 ASIA Culture Week special exhibit “Paper Road” opened on the same day with a colorful and creative performance in which five colors of paint were splattered on a canvas and transferred onto bicycle tires. The performance was designed to suggest the theme of active interaction and exchange among Asian cultures centering in Gwangju.
“Paper Road,” which will run throughout the week, is an exhibit that gathers artists in the digital era and collects their impressions of past East Asian civilizations as expressed through the medium of paper. On display are more than 100 works created by famous graphic artists from Korea, China, Japan, and Taiwan, all of whose works trace the history of the spread of paper in the region, from woodblock printing in China to the paper trade with the West, as well as the popularity of paper-made products used together with ceramics, tea, noodles, and rice.
Visitors to the venue can walk through a forest of posters that depict the lives of various peoples in East Asia and explore through visual art the similarities and differences in their cultures.
Another part of 2012 ASIA Culture Week that cannot be missed is the diverse cultural performances. Fourteen Asian countries will introduce their musical instruments and dances, giving visitors the opportunity to recognize each performance’s unique characteristics while also appreciating the harmony of the different styles. The free-of-charge performances will take place once each day on August 22 and 23.
Another highlight of the week was the August 19 marionette performance that depicted a Kyrgyzstani myth. The production was adapted by Kim Kwang-rim, a film producer and professor at the Korea National University of Arts, and directed by Yun Jeong-seop, who oversaw the direction of the Big-O Show at the recently finished Yeosu Expo.
From August 20 to 23, a culture forum will take place under the title, “Culture, Technology and Creativity” with the keynote address to be delivered by famous Korean poet Ko Un and the former culture minister of Japan, Aoki Tamotsu. Panelists in the forum will include well-known scholars in the cultural industry, including Osaka University Professor Sasaki Masayuki, who will discuss issues such as Gwangju’s potential for registration as a City of Media Arts in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.
Though the curtain will close on 2012 ASIA Culture Week on August 28, the festivities in Gwangju will continue. In addition to Art Gwangju 2012, which will run from September 6 to 9, the Gwangju World Music Festival on September 7 and 8, and the Asia Content and Entertainment Fair from September 20 to 23 will continue to provide fun cultural offerings for visitors. Gwangju Biennale, one of the city's most popular attractions, will also be held from September 7 to November 11.