2018 Gwangju Bi­en­nale

Ex­hi­bi­tion ex­plores bor­der is­sues in scat­ter­gun ap­proach

The Korea Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Kwon Mee-yoo meeyoo@ko­re­atimes.co.kr

GWANGJU — Un­der the theme “Imag­ined Borders,” de­rived from Bene­dict An­der­son’s book “Imag­ined Com­mu­ni­ties,” the 2018 Gwangju Bi­en­nale deals with im­mi­nent is­sues such as refugees, mi­gra­tion, cold war, di­vi­sions and the dig­i­tal di­vide.

For this year’s Gwangju Bi­en­nale, 11 cu­ra­tors or­ga­nized seven main ex­hi­bi­tions with some 300 works of art by 165 artists from 43 coun­tries.

“We se­lected mul­ti­ple cu­ra­tors last Novem­ber and the cu­ra­tors picked the artist in March,” Kim Sun-jung, pres­i­dent of Gwangju Bi­en­nale Foun­da­tion, said dur­ing press preview on Sept. 6.

Three of the main ex­hi­bi­tions are held in the Gwangju Bi­en­nale Ex­hi­bi­tion Hall and the re­main­ing four at the Asia Cul­ture Cen­ter (ACC). GB Com­mis­sion is pre­sented at the for­mer Armed Forces’ Gwangju Hos­pi­tal and the Pavil­ion Project is held at three dif­fer­ent venues through­out the city in col­lab­o­ra­tion with other in­ter­na­tional in­sti­tu­tions.

The 12th edi­tion of Gwangju Bi­en­nale made the choice to en­com­pass a wide range of themes by se­lect­ing 11 cu­ra­tors and pro­vid­ing them in­de­pen­dence, but such di­ver­sity leaves vis­i­tors in a maze full of in­trigu­ing works of ar t . Some might get lost in a dis­or­derly fash­ion, while oth­ers might find real gems from the pile of art­works.

Boundary rein­ter­preted

Tate Mod­ern cu­ra­tor Clara Kim presents “Imag­ined Na­tions / Mod­ern Utopias,” in­ves­ti­gat­ing modernism and ar­chi­tec­ture in the con­text of na­tion-build­ing in the 20th cen­tury. “We ex­am­ine the past from the per­spec­tive of to­day through ar­chi­tec­tural lan­guage. It is a re­ally im­por­tant time to look at the ar­chi­tec­tural mon­u­ments and his­tory in the no­tion of borders,” Kim said.

One of the no­table works from the sec­tion is Kuwaiti artist Ala You­nis’ “Plan (fem.) for Greater Bagh­dad.” The in­stal­la­tion piece ex­am­ines ur­ban plan­ning of the Iraqi cap­i­tal in the 1950s, as the city in­vited the world’s top ar­chi­tects such as Le Cor­bus­ier and Frank Lloyd Wright while it pros­pered from oil prof­its. Yu­nis’ project also traces fe­male fig­ures in the ar­chi­tec­tural his­tory. Gridthiya Gawee­wong’s sec­tion “Fac­ing Phan­tom Borders” cen­ters on pol­i­tics in South­east Asia, telling nar­ra­tives through var­i­ous medi­ums.

“The his­tory of­ten does not in­cor­po­rate voices of in­di­vid­u­als. I tried to ex­plore the re­la­tion­ship be­tween peo­ple and na­tion-state. I am also in­ter­ested in mass im­mi­gra­tion and flu­id­ity of pol­i­tics,” Gawee­wong said.

The cu­ra­tor set the bound­aries of Asia from the end of the Eurasian con­ti­nent to Turkey and Poland and dis­cusses refugee is­sues and sen­si­bil­i­ties of ri­val cities.

Chris­tine Y. Kim and Rita Gon­za­lez co-cu­rated “The Ends: The Pol­i­tics of Par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Post-In­ter­net Age.” “Some of us use so­cial me­dia for con­sump­tion and dis­play, while the in­ter­net is used for civil­ian con­trol in other parts of the world. We wanted to gen­er­ate dis­cus­sions about the po­ten­tial end of the in­ter­net as we know it and pol­i­tics in the post-in­ter­net age,” Kim said.

Miao Ying’s “Chin­ter­net Plus: What Goes On” re­flects the Chi­nese artist’s crit­i­cal in­ter­est in cen­sor­ship. In the form of a pro­mo­tional booth that can be found at trade fairs, Ying pro­motes a coun­ter­feit of the gov­ern­ment’s big data project In­ter­net Plus, sat­i­riz­ing cen­sor­ship be­hind the “Great Fire­wall” of China.

David Teh cre­ated an archive lounge sum­ma­riz­ing the 23-year his­tory of the Gwangju Bi­en­nale.

“In re­gard to the present, we had to look back to the ori­gin and im­pact of Gwangju Bi­en­nale over the past 23 years. The out­look on bi­en­nale is not too op­ti­mistic these days, but Gwangju

Bi­en­nale played an im­por­tant role in the de­vel­op­ment of Asian con­tem­po­rary art and we wanted to add a layer of his­tory to the present show for re­flec­tion,” Teh said.

The ex­hi­bi­tion con­tin­ues to the ACC, where “The Art of Sur­vival: As­sem­bly, Sus­tain­abil­ity, Shift” or­ga­nized by Kim Man-seok, Kim Sung-woo and Paek Chong-ok is pre­sented.

The cu­ra­tors brought the his­tory of the city into the ex­hibit, jux­ta­pos­ing anti-bi­en­nale ban­ners from 1995 with in­stal­la­tions re­vis­it­ing the ac­tiv­i­ties of sex work­ers dur­ing the May 18 Gwangju De­moc­ra­ti­za­tion Move­ment.

Chung Yeon-shim and Yee­wan Koon’s sec­tion “Fault­lines” is head­lined by Tara Dono­van’s gi­gan­tic pyra­mid made of plas­tic tubes in ques­tion­ing the prin­ci­pal con­cept of borders.

“We ex­plore dif­fer­ent con­cepts of borders and their speci­ficity in this im­age-sat­u­rated era,” Chung said.


Lara Bal­adi’s “Watch Out for Zuzu” is on view at the 2018 Gwangju Bi­en­nale, which runs through Nov. 11.

Shezad Dawood’s “Cities of the Fu­ture” Svay Sareth’s “Si­lence & Yell”

“Bla­zon: The Korean Del­e­ga­tion” by Mar­wan Rech­maoui

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