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Caught in the Act: Korean Experimental Performance of the 1960s and the 1970s


This thesis unearths the traces of the development of Korean experimental performances in the 1960s and the 1970s within the issues of documentation and representation by analyzing how their rebellious tendencies were caught in the act through photographs or other various forms of documentation. In order to investigate the modes of reception of Korean performance, the chapters locate and delineate the political and artistic impasses in Korea as much as the revolutionary fervor felt by Korean experimental artists of the 1960s and the 1970s that have formed their dynamic body of works. The repressive nature of President Park Chung Hee’s authoritative regime imbued people with a new sense of subjectivity, triggering a wave of public opposition and igniting artistic criticisms, which is reflected through the use of unconventional vernacular media in Korean experimental performances. A group of young experimental artists who were also citizens of a nation, where their voices were unheard, sought to dismantle the existing boundaries of Korean art, reflect the shifting realities of democratic transition and the frustration that came along with the insignificance of their existence, and establish a new beginning of visual language in Korea.

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