Taekwondo Poomsae Competition as Theatrical Exhibition – Semiotics Versus Performative Aesthetics

In the pursued contribution I want to analyse the contemporary practice of Taekwondo Poomsae Competition on the basis of the 9th Poomsae World Championships, which recently took place in Aguascalientes, Mexico. In my examination I shall concentrate mostly on the aesthetics of Poomsae Competition and the embodiment of cultural and social spheres through the analysis of the theatrical categories: space, body, sound, and artefacts as developed by Andreas Kotte. The question will be, whether the aesthetics found in Poomsae Competition are to be seen as sign-like, or symbol-like. While the first one is driven by the concept of aesthetic expression being a sign for something, the latter one stands for the concept of being a symbol of something. Based upon the philosopher Ernst Cassirer, the main difference between the two concepts is, that a sign only refers to one certain information, while a symbol can refer to different information and can be interpreted in different ways. Set in the theoretical field of Theatre Studies, this shall further lead to the question, if the concept of theatrical semiotics3 (equivalent to sign-like), or the concept of the performative aesthetics (equivalent to symbol-like) is the main aesthetic paradigm. These two theories represent two opposing concepts of theatrical exhibition and theorize the interaction between performer and audience. This opens new opportunities to determine social and political embodiment in Poomsae Competition by analysing aesthetic expression and its influence on the performer-audience relationship.

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