Tag Archives: North Korea

READING LOLITA IN PYONGYANG

3 May

READING LOLITA IN PYONGYANG

Date: Friday, April 30, 2010
Time: 1:00pm – 3:00pm
Location: Sublevel, C.V. Starr East Asian Library, UC Berkeley.

Description

In a post-Kim dynasty North Korea what will the sensitive, artistically inclined Hyok Kangs of that world gravitate to, in terms of the arts and literature? Many Westerners have speculated George Orwell’s 1984 or Animal Farm as the inevitable, future North Korean bestsellers that will strike a chord and light the long-awaited fire of inspiration that will prompt a flood of post-totalitarian memoirs and artistic activities. Though I have no doubt about a future translated North Korean edition of 1984, I have my doubts about its overarching success and artistic dominance in the East Asian peninsula.

When this subject matter was presented to me last fall, what I immediately thought of was Nabokov’s Lolita and Azar Nafisi’s memoir Reading Lolita in Tehran (2004). This impromptu workshop will entertain additional supplementary texts and other creative possibilities.

This is the second of three talks that will make up a 150 page text on The Becoming Resurrection (presented at the beaubourg, May 22).

This event is free but capacity is limited.

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Beaubourg 268: Understanding Contemporary East Asian Nihilism

17 Jan

beaubourg 268

Understanding Contemporary East Asian Nihilism
MW 1:10-2:30
Maxi Kim
Office Hours: Wed 3-4
 San Francisco
Email: maximuskim@hotmail.com

“When Bertolt Brecht saw a Japanese mask of an evil demon,
he wrote how its swollen veins and hideous grimaces ‘all betake /
what an exhausting effort it takes / To be evil.’ The same holds
for violence which has any effect on the system.”
-Slavoj Zizek

Course Summary

This course is designed to explore a certain nihilistic dimension in contemporary East Asia – the hikikomori phenomenon in Japan, the pitilessness in New Korean Cinema, the increasing influence of guangchang giant malls in China, etc, etc – through its art, texts, and films. We will begin by discussing issues of violence, utopia, and “evil” as they relate to the disavowed ghosts that haunt East Asia: North Korean totalitarianism, the psychic deadlocks discernible in otaku culture, the specter of the revolutionary Chinese future from the first sentence of The Communist Manifesto. In Jonathan Romney’s May 2006 Artforum article on the South Korean filmmaker Park Chan-wook, Romney makes a series of observations about Park’s oeuvre. His stories evoke “absurdity, futility, inevitability: Park’s characters are, as it were, always destined to shoot themselves in the head, and although it will always be the right head-the one that hurts-it will also be the wrong one, for all action in Park’s universe is doomed to catastrophe.” It is precisely against this background that this course will pay particular attention to the nihilistic moments when the Absolute appears in all its “absurdity, futility, inevitability:” from Park’s last man who discovers that familial piety is an illusion, to Kim Jong-il’s obscene familial investment in the figure of the Leader; from the extremely fragile cognitive mapping cultivated by Takashi Murakami’s Tokyo Girls, to the subversion of the cyborg-comic mode of existence guaranteed by Giant Robot; in all of these examples, we will hopefully see how the implicit reference to some traumatic kernel keeps the dream of a utopian universe alive.

Suggested Texts
Michael Zielenziger, Shutting out the sun: how Japan created its own lost generation
Kim Jong Il, On the Art of the Cinema
Dai Jinhua, Cinema and Desire: Feminist Marxism and Cultural Politics in the Work of Dai Jinhua
Ryu Murakami, Piercing
Banana Yoshimoto, NP
Chun Sue, Beijing Doll
Guy Delisle, Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea
Hyok Kang, This is Paradise! My North Korean Childhood

Course Requirements
– Faithful attendance / meetings and office hours negotiable
– Regular weekly readings
– Take-home Midterm Creative Project / Essay
– Take-home Final Creative Project / Essay

General Policies
1. Attendance: Absences may be offset with meetings and office hours
2. Deadlines: Creative assignments are due at the beginning of workshops. Constructive criticisms only; the group will not tolerate personal attacks. Workshops will not accept any papers more than one week late.
3. Format: All essays must be typed, double-spaced with one-inch margins, paginated and stapled (please do not use folders or report covers). Feel free to use MLA format as outlined in MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (fifth edition).
4. Office hours: All students are greatly encouraged to visit me during my office hour throughout the quarter. If you are unable to visit me at this time, please feel free to contact me so we may arrange an alternate time to meet.

Schedule
2/22 Shutting out the Sun; after class optional screening of Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Bright Future (2003)
2/24 Shutting out the Sun; after class optional screening of Tekkonkinkreet (2007)
3/1 Workshop
3/3 Workshop
3/8 On the Art of the Cinema; after class optional screening of Paprika (2007)
3/10 On the Art of the Cinema; after class optional screening of The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema (2006)
3/15 On the Art of the Cinema; Workshop
3/17 Workshop
3/22 Cinema and Desire
3/24 Cinema and Desire
3/29 Piercing
3/31 Piercing
4/5 Piercing & NP; Midterm due
4/7 NP
4/12 NP & optional workshop
4/14 Beijing Doll & optional workshop
4/19 Beijing Doll
4/21 Pyongyang & This is Paradise!
4/26 Pyongyang & This is Paradise!
4/28 Workshop
5/3 Final paper

AN OPEN INVITATION TO THE PUBLIC / 18 NOV

19 Nov

If you live in the bay area, and you are at all interested in joining, or even contributing something to our little beaubourg – we invite you to leave a comment on our Beaubourg 268 blog (below). Beaubourg 268 is located  at the southern periphery of the San Francisco Peninsula. Adjacent to San Francisco State Universiity, the institution’s new home is a modest two story residential building that hopes to attract educators and students alike. The ground floor contains a small garden, sound studio, and outdoor planning areas; the second floor holds a small archive-library, along with lodging accommodations.

Most of the artists and thinkers in Steven Henry Madoff’s new big book, Art School suffer from one of two opposing superstitions: either art schools are the new business schools preparing designers and emerging artists for the real world, or art schools are the new pockets of resistance and reform informing social stakeholders for the real world challenges of global consumer capitalism. As a literary terrorist, one of whose concerns is the future of art school, I sometimes am asked: “Which theoretician should I know?” To their astonishment, I have yet to reply to them with the usual French names: Baudrillard, Deleuze, Derrida, Foucault, etc. Rather, I’ve tended to answer with one of two names: Gina Clark & Robert Hansen.

Gina Clark was born and raised in Southern California. Over the past decade she has worked across a variety of media including performance, film, photography, installation, and curating. Within these practices, the desert-based CalArts graduate has supported the preservation of the innovative and exploratory arts; always mindful of the fact that we are living in an age dominated by Domesticity & Artifice.  Robert Hansen is a sound artist, visual artist, writer and founder of the renowned group Mini Voyeur. From its initial formation, the group was exploring properties in speech, sound and acoustics; all the while, infusing humor in to the concepts of music, memory and logic. Robert has maintained an extended library of recorded audio and video documents created with the help of friends and family.

The newly established Beaubourg 268 will offer the public a series of classes, projects and improvisational “adventures” that remain more or less outside the existing coordinates of art schools such as Cal Arts and Goldsmiths. Under its co-founder Gina Clark, her weekly Carnal Knowledge workshops will stress the emancipatory potential of performance, as it relates to issues as varied as familial piety, animal welfare, and Czech cinema. Students, if they so desire, will have an opportunity to work with Clark’s nonprofit group, Unsichtbar Birnbaum Exploratory. Sound artist Robert Hansen will offer weekly workshops to appreciate the visual arts, through the lens of sound, music, or voice. I will offer bi-monthly ‘Reading’ Slavoj Zizek group seminars to provide theoretical supplement for those emerging artists who desire it. To the degree that art schools can play a “revolutionary” role today, I will attempt to open up a space in which isolated Japanese youths and North Korean defectors can be heard.

As the art teacher John Baldessari put it “[I]f you’re lecturing in a class and there’s a car crash outside, you better bring that car crash into what you’re saying or you’ve lost them.” It is from this perspective that the crucial first step, for us, is to foster an informal classroom environment that treats art as both a past-time and a means for exploration. To the degree that students may indeed require a postpostmodern vocabulary, Beaubourg 268 firmly believes that what students need most is the unconditional permission to use everything in the world, including their own naivete, fears, and desires.

Beaubourg 268 will be comprised with approximately fifteen students from the surrounding area who are diverse in terms of their backgrounds, ages, and aspirations. We invite every one – no matter what your age or artistic background – to participate in the fun. Ideally, we here at the beaubourg want to learn from you as much as you might learn from us. An informal meeting is set for Tuesday, 19 January 2010. The official opening is set for mid-February.