Ooo Gangnam Style.
LaGuardia Community College faculty and students were included in artist Anish Kapoor’s video “Gangnam for Freedom,” which can be found on YouTube.
This summer South Korean pop star Psy released the music video “Gangnam Style,” which pokes fun at the lavish and quirky lifestyle of the Gangnam District in Seoul — sort of how the Williamsburg hipster lifestyle gets a few jabs, LGCC assistant professor and Gangnam Style coordinator Ari Richter said.
Psy can be seen in the video flailing his arms and legs in an over-the-top riding-a-horse movement. He gallops by girls in skimpy shorts — “sexy ladies” Psy sings as he passes by — working out by the river, through a horse stable and on to a tennis court, among other locations.
The video went viral in August, racking up nearly 900 million views to date, and was named the most “liked” video in YouTube history by Guinness World Records. Everyone from Ellen DeGeneres to Madonna has practiced the humorous dance sequence.
Then Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who in 2010 was put under house arrest by Chinese police and witnessed his studio being bulldozed to the ground, created a parody of the video. While shimmying through a horse stable he struggles out of a pair of handcuffs in perhaps a critique of his country’s censorship policies. The video racked up thousands of online hits and was quickly taken down by the Chinese government.
The action prompted Kapoor, known for his public sculptures, to create his Amnesty International-sponsored video. In the footage individuals hold up posters saying “Stand Together for Human Rights,” flash their middle fingers and above all dance.
“Gangnam for Freedom” closes with a couple-second flashes of people from organizations such as the Guggenheim Museum, the Whitney Museum, Museum of Modern Art, the Channel 4 News Team and LGCC showing off their “Gangnam Style.”
“I am an artist, and being in this field I’m invested in freedom of speech,” Richter said.
Richter found out about the call to dance from a friend at the Whitney Museum. He quickly sent out invitations to participate and an email to Kapoor’s studio asking to join. People responded quickly, which Richter says is a “testament to the school’s protection of freedoms and to the ideology of democracy.”
Richter gave a small talk on the Monday before Thanksgiving break about the importance of the video and then, in one take recorded by the LGCC newspaper’s video team, the participants executed their right of freedom to expression.
“It’s a chance to be on YouTube, a chance to make a difference and support my school at the same time, so I went for it,” said Mohammad Kully, who works in Student Life. “With education, and showing that we’re all in this together fighting for a cause, it could change the world.”
The LGCC dancers, their wrists crossed to evoke handcuffs, can be found on YouTube in full as well as for a couple of seconds in Kapoor’s video.