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The Korean Biennales are here!


The Korean Biennales are here!

The Seoul Mediacity Biennale, 12th Gwangju Biennale and the Busan Biennale open this week in Korea and will be on show until mid-November. Here’s what to expect from this marathon of visual arts: 

Seoul Mediacity Biennale

In it’s 10th edition, the Seoul Media City Biennale, previously known as the SeMA Biennale Mediacity Seoul, will run from 6 September to 18 November 2018. Organised by SeMA and hosted by the Seoul Metropolitan Government, this biennale aims to draw focus on the various forms of artistic expression that reflect Seoul’s regional traits, as well as expand the concept of media. Each edition takes different experimental structures; this year’s edition will see a collective curatorship called the “Collective” lead this biennale towards the direction of creating a multiplex intellectual platform, allowing Seoul to rebrand itself as a cultural destination. The Seoul Media City Biennale seeks to promote changes and communication across an array of fields including art, economics, environment, politics, social sciences, etc. They aim to do this through the opening up of new opportunities for change within Seoul’s society, and by increasing public access to cultural arts. All this, through the opening up of spaces for both citizens and international viewers.

The “Collective” is one that is attempting to create a venture of biennale experimentation by taking on the close cooperation and ongoing discussions of its members as a process for them to engage with the public. They are hoping that this framework will further develop with public engagement in the future. The Collective is made up of 6 individuals, and selected with the recommendations of the Seoul of Museum of Art. They include dance critic Nam Soo Kim, independent curator Jang Un Kim, director of The Book Society Kyung Yong Lim, Climate & Energy Team Leader of Greenpeace Daul Jang, Director of Seoul Museum of Art Hyo-Joon Choi and Director of Global Political Economy Institute Gibin Hong.

With this newly initiated structure in place, the Seoul Mediacity Biennale strives to address the following: What new values must humanity foster amid the anxiety and uncertainty that pervade today’s society? This biennale additionally “strives to determine the role and function of art not as an exclusive property of a specific minority class, but as a medium for communication based on the exchanges and consilience of contemporary art”.

“Accordingly, Seoul Mediacity Biennale aims to re-interpret contemporary life through multidisciplinary collaboration and identify creative and future-oriented alternative values presented by various individuals and groups, with regard to the theme, “Noch Nicht (Not yet), but already noticeable.”

To find out more about The Seoul Mediacity Biennale, click here.


Gwangju Biennale

For the first time, the Gwangju Biennale will be hosting a series of Pavilion Projects. These will begin with three leading international art institutions in an effort to connect Gwangju to a broad arts community. Organisations showcasing include those from France, the Philippines, and Finland, and will explore themes such as democracy, human rights and peace as founding principles of the Biennale. Following this edition’s theme of ‘Imagined Borders’, The Gwangju Civic Center, Mugaksa Temple in Seo-gu and the Leekangha Art Museum in Yanglim-dong, Nam-gu, will host projects from the Palais de Tokyo, Helsinki International Artist Program (HIAP), and Philippine Contemporary Art Network (PCAN). This Pavilion Project hopes to exist as a forum for exchange and promotion between countries, whilst presenting emerging artists from their own countries allowing them to further engage with Korean artists. The Gwangju Biennale will also be launching a second international programme, The GB Commission, which will showcase site-specific installations throughout Gwangju.

The first Pavilion will feature Palais de Tokyo at the Gwangju Civic Centre. ‘Today Will Happen' is curated by Jean de Loisy, the President of Palais de Tokyo, as well as the Head of Exhibitions at the Asian Cultural Centre, Kim Seong Won. It takes its title from the Michel Houellebecq’s poem of the same name, published in ‘The Art of Struggle’ in 1996. Discussions surrounding the poem will be translated into Korean, introduced as a song, and constitute towards a new visual art piece which will debut at the exhibition.

HIAP at Mugaksa Temple will hold ‘Fictional Frictions’, showcasing new commissions and recent artworks by both South Korean as well as Finnish artists. Composed of sculptures and sound installations, aspects of the overarching theme ‘Imagined Borders’ will be highlighted by five artists. They seek to “highlight co-dependencies and continuums instead of ruptures, dissolving the dichotomies between past and present, individual and collective, micro and macrocosm” in relation to the environment of the Mugaksa Temple.

PCAN at Leekangha Art Museum and new exhibition space, Hothouse, will show six Korean and Filipino artists. This is curated by Patrick D. Flores, who previously curated the Philippine Pavilion at the 2015 Venice Biennale. Inspired by the concept of a greenhouse, these artists will explore the “correlations between horticulture and demonstrations” along with the role of glass in urban city architecture. They seek to highlight the liminal zone between natural and artificial light that triggers rapid plant growth outside its natural season.

Finally, the GB Commission will explore the history of Gwangju and the origin of the Gwangju Biennale itself. It was founded to sublimate the scars of the Gwangju Democratisation movement in 1980 into culture and arts. This commission includes 4 participating artists for this year’s edition - Adrián Villar Rojas, Mike Nelson, Kader Attia, and Apichatpong Weerasethakul.

For more information, click here.

Busan Biennale

Headed by executive director Choi Tae Man, Paris-based Cristina Ricupero and Berlin-based Jörg Heiser lead this year’s curation and artistic direction. Busan Biennale is a festival that integrates three events – Busan Youth Biennale, Busan Sea Arts Festival and Busan Outdoor Sculpture Symposium. This 2018 edition brings about the theme ‘Divided We Stand’, responding to the issue of fractured territories around the globe. It begs to question the types of sentiments and conditioning that the splitting of territories induces in, specifically, artistic minds. It looks at how souls are inspired and haunted by such political divisions.

In a press statement, Busan Biennale states how “ ‘Divided We Stand’ is obviously not offering unconditional optimism or romantic expectations for the future. Yet it’s not apocalyptic either, but an expression of the determination to face reality and to look at the blind spots that territorial divisions have produced.” This 2018 edition of the Busan Biennale will be held at the Museum of Contemporary Art Busan, as well as at the former bank of Korea.

For more information, click here.

Any views or opinions in the post are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the company or contributors.

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