The curatorial team: Maria Lind, artistic director; Binna Choi, curator; Azar Mahmoudian, Margarida Mendes and Michelle Wong, assistant curators
Local curatorial associate: Mite-Ugro
Gwangju Biennale Exhibition Hall, Asia Culture Center, 5.18 Archives, Mudeung Museum of Contemporary Art, Uijae Art Museum, Woo Jaeghil Art Museum, Mite-Ugro, Nuribom Community Center, Hansaebong Agriculture & Eco Park, The Roundabout Revolution, Seo-gu Culture Center, Daein Market,
Gwangju: Asia Culture Center, 5.18 Archives, 18 May Mothers House, Gwangju International Center (GIC), Chosun University, Chonnam University. Seoul: RAT School of Art, Hongik University, Seoul National University—Asia Center, Dongduk Women’s University. International: The New Center, Inter-Asia Biennale Forum
The exhibition part of the 11th Gwangju Biennale entitled “The Eighth Climate (What Does Art Do?)” opens to the public on 2 September 2016. The title is not a “theme” or a “concept,” but rather indicates a set of parameters of GB11. It is about placing art center-stage, art’s capacity to always say something about the future, connect dots over small and big distances, embeddedness in particular situations, and mediation. What happens if we try to tease out more of the artworks in this eclectic, kaleidoscopic, and puzzling adventure? If we accept their invitation to engage, and take their interpellation more at face value? One of the things which we might end up doing is to enter a dance of futurity where the past is neither completely forgotten nor a guiding light. In this sense, GB11 is a temperature check of art today.
GB11 is also a constellation of many parts happening over one year, starting in January 2016. Thinking thoroughly about what art does—without necessarily implying a utilitarian approach—how artworks land in different contexts, and how they sit in society and create ripples on the water, GB11 comprises Monthly Gatherings, or Wol-rae-hoe, made together with the local curatorial associates Mite-Ugro in Gwangju, an Infra-School in Gwangju, Seoul, and beyond, around a hundred national and international Biennale Fellows, a Forum with the Fellows, two publications and a blog designed by Metahaven, as well as an exhibition which stretches from the Gwangju Biennale building to other venues and places in the city, including Asia Culture Center and the 5.18 Archives, and online.
The opening week is a moment to celebrate this ongoing process of conjunction, convergence, and multiplicity together with the ninety artists who are present, but also open up the crucial nodal points for furthering the process and for debate, which includes the presentation of twenty-eight commissions and a lively program. Among the commissions are Dora García’s reconstruction of the Nokdu bookstore that played a crucial role in the 18 May 1980 Uprising in Gwangju, Cooperativa Cráter Invertido’s and Hu Yun’s engagement with the 5.18 Archives, Metahaven’s new film Information Skies, only available online (www.informationskies.com), Jewyo Rhii with Jihyun Jung’s scattering storytelling machines for makers, and Gunilla Klingberg’s feng shui inspired vinyl cut-out moon-cycle patterns applied on the windows of the Uijae Museum by the Mudeung mountain.
There will be a number of events, such as the performance by Fernando Garcia-Dory in collaboration with Hansaebong Dure in the last rice field in the city, and a series of gatherings by Apolonija Šušteršič with Dari Bae and the Nuribom community about taking town-planning into their own hands. Many existing works and projects are brought to Gwangju for our scrutiny and experience too. One of the existing works is Eyal Weizman’s 2013 Gwangju Biennale Foundation folly, Roundabout Revolution. Most of these contributing artists will give personal introductions to their own works besides the curatorial team’s own introduction to the Biennale.
“The Eighth Climate”
The “eighth climate” of the exhibition’s title refers to a state, or inter world, one might reach using imaginative capacities. The notion of the eighth climate dates back to 12th-century Persian mystic and philosopher Sohrevardi, and was elaborated by 20th-century French philosopher Henri Corbin. It is an addition to the seven physical climates of the Earth identified by ancient Greek geographers. Unlike the seven Earthly climates, the eighth climate is not based on a separation of matter and spirit, history and myth; rather, it is ontologically real and has concrete effects. It is characterized by its imaginative qualities and potentiality. In this way, the eighth climate shows interesting parallels with how contemporary art is functioning.
The eighth climate might well resonate with global warming. However, in the context of GB11, the eighth climate helps us explore art’s capacity to say and do something about the future, without either being paralyzed by its prospects or defaulting to established technologies of prediction. The eighth climate evokes art as a seismograph, detecting change before other means of observation, whether the artists are conscious of it or not, allowing for slightly different—and perhaps ambiguous and conflictual perspectives on how art engages with what lies ahead of us. This neither implies art for art’s sake nor a utilitarian approach. It is not about “art for art’s sake” but rather about “art itself.”
Monthly Gatherings—Wol-rae-hoe—is a series of informal gatherings in Gwangju, on different scales, running January–November 2016. The term is used in Korea for regular gatherings after scheduled work time at workplaces. Each GB11 Monthly Gathering focuses on art and Gwangju and goes on for two to three days. It is a collaboration between Mite-Ugro, a Gwangju-based art collective which functions as the local curatorial associate of GB11, and the curatorial team. Mite-Ugro’s project space in the Daein Market is the main venue for the events, and the participants are GB11 artists, students, citizens, and initiatives, primarily from Gwangju. The purpose of the Monthly Gathering program is to bring closer together the Gwangju Biennale and the art world in Gwangju, especially its younger sections, through face-to-face contact and formal as well as informal exchanges and conversations. The activities of Monthly Gathering include the donation-based Mite-Ugro Art and Theory Book Collection, group readings, artists screenings, The Art Work in Focus discussion groups, and Curated Walks, and they have all been developed based on perceived needs of the local art scene.
The Infra-School is a program in which GB11 connects its curatorial and artistic knowledge to the existing formal and informal educational institutions in Gwangju and beyond. Infra-School consists of lectures, presentations, group discussions, and seminars by GB11 artists and curators. Instead of establishing a new independent educational arm, the Infra-School taps into resources which are already there and intends to multiply connections and expand relations. In doing so, it aims at embedding GB11 in the local, regional, and national ecosystem of art, whereby the mutual benefits and interdependence between different entities become strengthened. Among the Infra-School associates are Chosun University, Gwangju; Chonnam University, Gwangju; Dongduk Women’s University, Seoul; Gwangju International Center; Hongik University, Seoul; RAT School of Art, Seoul; The New Center, New York and online; Seoul National University—Asia Centre; and the Inter-Asia Biennale Forum.
Forum: To All the Contributing Factors
On 2–4 September the Forum: To All the Contributing Factors will also take place at which the Biennale Fellows—small- to mid-scale art organizations whose “differential” work is genuinely valuable to the art ecology—peers and colleagues, artists, and other interested people are invited to come together, share experiences, and discuss the future of this kind of work, especially with regards to questions of value, continuity, and scale. Around sixty Biennale Fellows will attend the Forum. A handful of lectures are scheduled, with the author of the outstanding 2007 novel The Vegetarian, Han Kang, writer and researcher Andrea Phillips, poet, gallerist, and “gardener” Hu Fang, Fernando Garcia-Dory, and the author of Minority Commune Shin Ji Young. They will be followed by fellow-led workshops on the second day, to be concluded with hiking together up the Mudeung mountain on the third day. The Forum will be live-streamed by The New Center, our Infra-School associate whose co-founder and GB11 artist Mohammad Salemy also moderates a session.
Roughly one hundred small- and medium-scale art organizations whose work makes important contributions to the art of today are invited as the Biennale Fellows. While being “appointed” Biennale Fellows, they simply go on doing the great work they are engaged with in their own contexts without being concretely involved with the Biennale in Gwangju. Distinct from bigger-scale art organizations such as museums, art fairs, and biennales, these organizations often function as the research and development department of the art world, nurturing artistic, curatorial, educational, social, and political experimentation. Above all, they actively support artists to cultivate their practices and foster contact and conflict zones around themselves, including neighbors and various practitioners from other fields.
Yet the significance of their works is not fully acknowledged in a wider art and social ecology, while their self-determined “marginal” or “minor” positions, as well as increasing precarity in the climate of austerity and various crises, are palpable. What if we “connect dots” through such a “molecular campaign” and manifest a critical mass to commit to these shared concerns?
List of Fellows
98weeks (Beirut), Al-Ma’mal Foundation (Jerusalem), Art Group 705 (Bishkek), Arts Initiative Tokyo (Tokyo), Artspace (Auckland), Artsonje Center (Seoul), Art Space Pool (Seoul), Ashkal Alwan (Beirut), Asia Art Archive (Hong Kong), Audio Visual Pavilion (Seoul), BAR Project (Barcelona), Beta-Local (San Juan), Bétonsalon – Center for Art and Research (Paris), Britto Arts Trust (Dhaka), Bulegoa (Bilbao), CAMP (Mumbai), Campus in Camps (Palestine), Careof (Milan), Casa do Povo (São Paulo), Casco – Office for Art, Design and Theory (Utrecht), CCA Glasgow (Glasgow), CCA Tallinn (Tallinn), Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos (Lagos), Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo (Madrid), Chimurenga (Cape Town), Chto Delat (What is to be done?) (St Petersburg), Clark House Initiative (Mumbai), Community Space LITMUS (Ansan), Cooperativa Cráter Invertido (Mexico City), Council (Paris), Delfina Foundation (London), DiscLab (Manila), Di Tella (Buenos Aires), Eastside Projects (Birmingham), e-flux (New York), Forum Lenteng (Jakarta), Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst (Leipzig), Grizedale Arts (Cumbria), Henie Onstad Kunstsenter (Oslo), If I Can’t Dance (Amsterdam), Institute for New Connotative Action (Seattle), Institute of Modern Art (Brisbane), The Israeli Center for Digital Art (Holon), Jubilee (Brussels), Kadist (Paris/San Francisco), KHOJ (Delhi), kim? Contemporary Art Centre (Riga), Konsthall C (Stockholm), KUNCI Cultural Studies Center (Yogyakarta), Kunsthal Aarhus (Aarhus), Kunsthalle Lissabon (Lisbon), Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art (Riga), Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers (Paris), Lugar a Dudas (Cali), Marabouparken (Sundbyberg, Sweden), Minatomachi Art Table (Nagoya), Mite-Ugro (Gwangju), Museo Experimental el Eco (Mexico City), Mustarinda (Hyrynsalmi), National Centre for Contemporary Arts (Ural), Nile Sunset Annex (Cairo), NTU CCA Singapore (Singapore), OCAT Shenzhen (Shenzen), Office of Culture and Design (Manila), Open School East (London), P! (New York), P74 (Ljubljana, Slovenia), Pages Project/Magazine (Rotterdam/Tehran), Para Site (Hong Kong), Pathshala South Asian Media Institute (Dhaka), Portes et Passage (Joal), Pro qm (Berlin), RAW Material Company (Dakar), REDCAT (Los Angeles), Riwaq (Al Bireh, Palestine), ruangrupa (Jakarta), SA SA BASSAC (Phnom Penh), SAVVY Contemporary (Berlin), SBC Gallery of Contemporary Art (Montréal), Space Heem (Busan), SPOT Projects (Istanbul), Spring Workshop (Hong Kong), ST PAUL St Gallery (Auckland), Taipei Contemporary Art Center (Taipei), Talking Art (Seoul), Tensta konsthall (Tensta), TEOR/éTica (San José), The Bamboo Curtain Studio (Taipei), The Book Society (Seoul), The Center for Land Use Interpretation (Los Angeles), The Common Guild (Glasgow), TheCube Project Space (Taipei), The Reading Room (Bangkok), The Showroom (London), Times Museum (Guangzhou), Townhouse Gallery (Cairo), tranzit.cz (Prague), tranzit.hu (Budapest), Triangle (New York), Triple Canopy (New York), Vitamin Creative Space (Guangzhou), Western Front (Vancouver), What, How & for Whom / WHW (Zagreb), Witte de With (Rotterdam), and Work on Work (Seoul)
The curatorial team went on a first site visit to Gwangju in September of 2015, together with a dozen artists with strong and relevant practices, who were invited to make new work. They were encouraged to think about local production in terms of materials, techniques, and skills rather than just making straightforward site-specific or context-sensitive work. Another dozen were invited during the winter and, together with the oeuvres, practices, and methodologies of the first group of invited artists, they indicated the direction of the exhibition, and eventually several methodological and thematic strands were noticed and developed. Subsequently, another seventy odd artists have been invited to show existing works which emphasize and complicate the various strands.
Many of the art projects pertain to more than one strand, which hint at possible readings of works rather than aiming at firmly framing them. The strands include “above and below ground,” “right to opacity,” “the image people,” and “new subjectivities.” For example, siren eun young jung’s intriguing video Act of Affect (2013) is pertaining to “new subjectivities” as well as “the right to opacity,” in terms of how gender is performed beyond norms and how the condition of illegibility is necessary for certain kinds of self-determination. The video is part of her long-term research on the Korean theater tradition of gukgeuk, a type of vaudeville performance where all the roles are played by women actors, who form tightly knit communities. Gukgeuk was particularly popular during the Korean War and siren’s project highlights how the tradition is carried on from generation to generation, into the future.
The artists who have been commissioned to make new work for GB11 are Ahmet Öğüt, Amalia Pica, Ane Hjort Guttu, Annie Lai Kuen Wan, Apolonija Šušteršič, Babi Badalov, Bernd Krauß, Bik Van der Pol, Céline Condorelli, Christopher Kulendran Thomas, Claire Barclay, Cooperativa Cráter Invertido, Dale Harding, Dora García, Doug Ashford, Fernando Garcia-Dory, Gunilla Klingberg, Hu Yun, Jewyo Rhii, Julia Sarisetiati, Metahaven, Natascha Sadr Haghighian, Ruth Buchanan, Saskia Noor van Imhoff, Søren Andreasen, Tommy Støckel, Trevor Paglen, and Tyler Coburn. In addition to a production budget for the GB11 commissions, there are, for the first time in the history of the Gwangju Biennale Foundation, fees for all participating artists.
Biennale City Lounge
The first floor of Gwangju International Center will operate as the city center lounge for the Gwangju Biennale during the opening week.
every month from January–November
Professional and press preview
August 31–September 1
September 2–November 4
September 2–4, To All the Contributing Factors
Finnisage with Inter-Asia Biennale Forum
The Gwangju Biennale shows contemporary art under a theme along with special guest exhibitions and various performances.
Under the helm of previous curators that include Kerry Brougher, Sukwon Chang, Okwui Enwezor, Charles Esche, Massimiliano Gioni, Hou Hanru, Honghee Kim, Yongwoo Lee, Youngchul Lee, Kwangsoo Oh, Wan-kyung Sung, and Harald Szeemann, the Gwangju Biennale has established itself as a highlight of the international contemporary art biennial circuit.
Centered around the Biennale Hall in Gwangju’s Jungoui Park, the Gwangju Biennale has elevated the city of 1.4 million to become a cultural hub of East Asia and reflects the growing interest in Asian art, culture and Asia’s new cities and culture trends.
We are creating an art and theory book collection for Mite-Ugro project space, and ask our friends and colleagues to bring/send publications. The books will be collected and registered in an online database (Blog) at Mite-Ugro, with titles translated into Korean. After one year the collection wo
Every month, as part of the Monthly Gathering, practitioners from various discipline such as sociology, history, urban studies curate different walking paths through the city and suburbs to experience and engage with other urgencies in Gwangju city. So far it has been transformative experience for t
"There is no lack of traumatic events, big and small, in the world.Both today and through history. Thirty-one people killed in the recent Brussels bombings and yesterday 60 casualties in a Lahore park, most of them women and children. Not to speak of the innumerable cases – most of them likely to
in Art Review January 2016 "Have you ever heard of a world that exists between the natural and the spiritual worlds? One that mediates between sensory reality and the mystical realm of the divine? This intermediate world welcomes imaginative consciousness and allows cognitive imagination to thriv
Split, Splits, Splitting, 2016 Customized chain curtains, customized floor, seating from public area surrounding the Biennale, dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist and Hopkinson Mossman, Auckland To enter and exit the Biennale exhibition hall, one passes through Ruth Buchanan’s (b.
"There are places that function as a knot, a knot where an infinite number of events, history flows, narrative lines, life stories, ideas, desires, sorrows, positions, memories, longings, collide; collide as in a knot. They all crystallise in a relatively small, unimportant place. Borges called this
Maria Lind on the return of the artist’s hand in post-Internet art, from Art review October 2015 issue "There is a steep increase in traces of sticky fingers on contemporary art. Especially in the art that has been placed under the rather strange label of ‘post-Internet’. Those traces are
Berlin-based artist Tommy Støckel is in residency in town building the installation The Gwangju Rocks, one of the new commissions of GB 11. This work comprises a series of rock characters inspired by the artificial nature and rock fixtures in the city of Gwangju. In Gwangju, as well as in many o
Hainuwele myth of Kyungyang dike was the title of the path drawn by Nam Soo Kim (Choreography critic from Seoul), on this edition of the curated walks at Monthly Gathering. Walking around the half moon shaped Kyungyang lake in central Gwangju, which disappeared many decades ago, a group of 25 atten
Apolonija Sustersic & Dari Bae invite us to the program of events they will develop at Nuribom Community Center! Please come and join the 1st event scheduled this Saturday 27th August! Program of events: [b] Sat 27 August 2016 16:00-18:00 Presentation of the Master Plan for Duamdong by