A sit down with Garry McCarthy and Nigel MacCormack
(Originally printed in Daegu Pockets)
What did you both do before coming to Korea?
N: I used to work at a genetics laboratory in Slough (a thriving metropolis in England). We were doing research on fluorescent pigmentation in animals, similar to the work of the team at Gyeongsang National University here in Korea, who successfully cloned glowing cats.
G: I was the personal assistant for an elderly gentleman named Das SCHIMMEL. My duties including scheduling his meet and greets, preparing large checks for him to sign and making sure his cape didn’t trail in the mud.
What’s the concept behind Tiger and Bear?
G: The performances known as “Tiger and Bear” are inspired by Korea’s breathtaking economic growth and industrialization and how this may relate to Korea’s traditions: Do people struggle to keep up with the fast pace of life and how do they adapt to their increasingly westernized society? And what effect does it have on the cultural identity of Korea?
N: As Britons living in Korea, we are outsiders, seeing everything for the first time, almost how Tiger and Bear would do if they returned to their motherland today.
Has it been well received?
N: Since arriving in Korea we feel we’ve made exceptional progress with regards to the exhibitions and performances we’ve done; The Seoul Museum of Art, the Dongseongno Festival, the list goes on.
How do you react to claims that the two of you are selling out?
N: Our intent was to investigate Korea’s adoption of Western capitalist ideals and given the economic drive behind modern day Korea, it seems only natural that our project should follow a similar route to more opulent circumstances.
G: We work hard at this so why shouldn’t we reap the rewards? It’s not our fault people like Tiger and Bear!
Do you get recognized in the street?
G: Older ladies seem to notice us quite a bit as Tiger and Bear from the old folk story; I guess it’s a nostalgia thing. But with the heads off no one recognizes us, so it’s nice to escape the fame every now and again.
What are your plans for the future?
N: Do more festivals, more performances, just keep pushing it.