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Picnic on the Ocean
Picnic on the Oceanis the project of two artists, Murai Hironori and Kim Seung-young who met, planned and executed the work in New York. In 1999 the two artists met as artists-in-residence at PS 1. To mark their meeting, they planned a joint project. They organized the Forest Exhibition, a Korean and Japan  art exchange exhibition, as their preliminary exhibition. 
Despite many difficulties they underwent while preparing this project, the two artists departed from Geojeand Tsushima Islands respectively, and successfully had ‘a picnic on the ocean’ in the middle of Korea Strait on July 29, 2002. They arrived at the appointed location at 34°48'N, by a small boat, exchanged greetings, and toasted, clinking glasses. They lay down in their boats and posed quite peacefully, looking up at the sky. Colorful flowers were used for buoys, and indicated the mid point between Korea and Japan. They were floating around them, and were symbolic of wildflowers stimulating the excursionists’ excitement. The results of this project were displayed at the exhibitons held at the Youngeun Museum of Contemporary Art in Korea, Nakatsue Village Hallin 2002, P.S.1 Art Center,and MoMA in New York in 2004, blurring the boundaries between diverse installation, performance video, contemporary Korean dance,and contemporary Japanese dance,Butoh,
Despite a judgment made, that it would be impossible, Picnic on the Ocean was successful to have a toast in delight right in the middle of a rolling sea. While preparing this project for a few years, the two artists had the opportunity to think over the meaning of a meeting, perhaps it represented the undergoing gaps in communication between individuals and nations? Small and large troubles had occurred in the process of making their historical encounter of people from different cultural backgrounds and languages. It turned  the matter to one of reconciliation, reliance, and friendship marking it perfectly the moment of two artists, clinked glasses in the middle of the sea. This project made viewers reconsider the meaning of meeting.

Moving beyond innumerable gaps 
It is often said that there is no boundary in art, in that it explores the possibility of communication beyond the gaps of country, people, and language. But, is that  really true? Is that nothing but a sweet daydream? Korean artist Kim Seung-young and Japanese artist Murai Hironori challenged these questions. On July 29, 2002 they achieved an ‘encountering’ performance at the sea border between  Korea and Japan, at the Korea Strait. Kim and Murai departed from Geojeand Tsushima Islands respectively, for this epic performance to address each artist’s past and identity. The theme of this project was Picnic on the Ocean.
“Many talked about the project as simply a dream. Many people seemed to talk about it like that, considering the complicated history and political problems between Japan and Korea. I did not understand why they thought it to be impossible. To think in such a way may be a wall blocking the possibility of communication.” Murai said.
The two artists met in the United States three years ago. Theywere chosen as the artists in residence program at PS 1, and spent one year together there. While living and working in the studio, Kim suggested to Murai to have a joint project after completing the residency period. Murai proposed a performance to meet  at sea. “When I heard this suggestion, I was not shocked as I had already enjoyed many picnics at  sea. I had never doubted its possibility. Those who were concerned with our project gradually became more concerned.” Kim said. Of course, a number of problems were inclusive ie,funding, weather, marine security, and boats all entailed. The two artists explained their project to those concerned of the two countries for the next two years. Under the auspiciousness of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Japan Foundation as well as the collaboration of the International Exchange Association, Korea Ocean Research and the Development Institute, this project did come true.
It is hard to overcome a wall among races, languages, and nations, but a wall among artists is perhaps higher than anything else. That is why an artist’s individuality is the source of his inspiration. For instance, Murai has made burlesque installations, while Kim has worked on his own installations and videos addressing the issue of his identity. Their individuality and work tendencies differ from one another, but they succeeded in overcoming the problems of nations, language, and race.
Murai commented that “An individual with distinctive characteristics can reach out his hand to others with a friendly mind. This is not a dream but a task everyone can do with ease. Although our performance was regarded as nothing but a project addressing the issues of Japan and Korean exchange and friendship, it was to raise problems we all face in our daily lives.” Kim agreed with this, saying that “the wisdom we learned through the performance was to pay attention to each other’s opinions and wait with patience for growth with endurance. Whenever we faced hardships, we asked ourselves why we strive to attain our encounter. That’s why such an encounter itself can be the answer.”

Picnic on the Ocean - Ship Project
Nakatsue Village, Japan


Nakatsue Village, Oita Prefecture is a tiny hamlet surrounded by mountains. Out of an islet resting at a point in a stream where the water swells out of the forest we formed a ship, trimming and arranging the chaotic grass we made a grass growing form: The Boat of Life. This big ship became one with the natural surroundings, an islet in the middle of Nakatsue's forest. Around that ship, children from Korea and Japan set paper and bamboo leaf boats to sail creating a prelude to the Picnic on the Ocean.


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