Artists for the Gwangju Biennale

The participants in the 11th Gwangju Biennale have been announced. The Korean biennale will be open from 2 September to 6 November 2016. Over 90 artists will be taking part in the event, namely Trevor Paglen, Emily Roysdon, Mika Tajima, Hito Steyerl, Agnieszka Polska, Anicka Yi, Raqs Media Collective and Ann Lislegaard. The Biennale’s general curatorship will be entrusted to Binna Choi, Margarida Mendes, Michelle Wong and Azar Mahmoudian so as to represent the diversity of Asian artistic...

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Criticisms target Gwangju Museum

On 15 May, a group from the Cultural Activists for Democracy carried out an operation against the Gwangju Museum of Art for showing works deemed “anti-democratic” by Thai artist Sutee Kunavichayanout. Over 200 activists signed an open letter addressed to the Gwangju Museum of Art about the political implications of an exhibition meant to highlight “Asian democracy, human rights and peace”. The controversy surrounds the presence of four works by artist Sutee Kunavichayanout in the exhibition “The Truth to Turn It Over”. Members of the Cultural Activists for Democracy denounce Sutee Kunavichayanout s involvement in the PDRC (People’s Democratic Reform Committee), led by a former member of the Suthep Thuagsuban government. A political party suspected of rigging Thailand’s 2014 elections. Exhibition curator Jong-young Lim has declared that he is shocked by this reaction, reminding that the exhibition was organised to pay homage to the 1980 Gwangju uprising in which young Koreans took up arms against peacekeepers when the latter fired on a young protester. The artist has also reacted to the criticisms: “I flatly deny both charges and would like to stress that my very active art/political activities in recent years was not in favour of the military but was in opposition to the abuse of parliamentary majority by the government of Yingluck Shinawatra. I and literally millions of other Thais exercised our democratic rights to take to the streets to protest against gross abuse of power by the...

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Gwangju Biennale introduces new design identity

For the first time since its establishment 20 years ago, the Gwangju Biennale is changing its design identity. The new logo encapsulates the Biennale’s innovative vision and influential role in the global art scene. Founded in 1995, the Gwangju Biennale was previously known by its logo that depicted the silhouette of Mt. Mudeung, an iconic geographic feature of the city. Lights emitting from the mountain signified the bright future of Gwangju. While the former logo symbolised the will of Gwangju Biennale to create harmony between the people, the new design represents the Biennale as a leading entity in modern art discourse for two decades, visualising a “break away” from the existing frame. It contains the Biennale’s spirit of challenge, which dismantles the status quo by seeking new perspectives and an avant-garde approach. The design also identifies the vision to generate authentic, aesthetic discourse that will influence the trends of the time. The Gwangju Biennale Foundation is being steered under the new leadership of Chairman Yoonchurl Jeon, former chair of the Board of Audit and Inspection, and President Yangwoo Park, former vice minister of the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism. The 11th Gwangju Biennale is co-hosted by the Gwangju Biennale Foundation and the City of Gwangju, and will be held at the Gwangju Biennale Hall and Jungoe...

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10th Gwangju Biennale

The 10th Gwangju Biennale is taking place from 5 September to 9 November 2014.  The biennial was Asia’s first contemporary art festival when it was founded in 1995 and was designed to promote a global perspective on contemporary art and withhold the ideals of the 1980 democratisation movement in South Korea. The theme of this year’s edition is “Burning Down the House” which aims to explore the cyclical process of burning and transformation and the idea that art can be a self-critical process. The biennial is mired in controversy follow the censorship row that led to the resignation of Lee Yongwoo, the president of the Gwangju Biennale Foundation. Despite the fair’s website stating that it “recognises the possibility and impossibility within art to deal directly and concretely with politics,” a satirical work by artist Hong Seong-dam was censored. The work in question depicts the South Korean President Park Geun-hye, as a scarecrow being restrained by her father, former president Park Chung-hee, and presidential chief of staff Kim Ki-choo, and was created in response to the Sewol Ferry disaster which saw the deaths of a large number of students. It is believed that the censoring was at the request of the local government, who are providing a substantial amount of funding to the...

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Jessica Morgan gives details of Gwangju Biennale

Jessica Morgan, the curator of South Korea’s forthcoming tenth Gwangju Biennale, to take place between 5 September and 9 November 2014. Entitled Burning Down the House, the event is to explore the process of “burning and transformation”, understood as a cycle of obliteration and renewal witnessed throughout history. The event is to open with a piece by Seoul-based artist Minouk Lim: a battered container, placed outside the event, is to contain the remains of some of the civilians killed in the Korean War (1950-53). The work joins other pieces expected to provoke controversy, including an installation by South African artist Jane Alexander, which questions state control and individual freedom. The mood is set to continue in other exhibits: Morgan hopes to borrow Picasso’s 1951 Massacre in Korea (the work is curently held at Paris’s Musée Picasso), telling the Financial Times: “Nominally Picasso was a communist, and if one thing is outlawed in South Korea, it’s communism.” If the curator is unable to borrow the work, she still wants it “in there in some form”, though admitted a copy might not be capable of causing “such a storm”. Big-name artists set to take part in the event include Jeremy Deller, Carstren Höller, Urs Fischer, and Allora & Calzadilla. A total of 106 artists are expected to participate, 20 of whom hail from Korea itself. Whilst ostensibly international in focus, previous editions of the event have failed to attract a public from itself South Korea: in the past, only 12% of attendees have been from the country. Jessica Morgan is the Daskalopoulos curator at Britain’s Tate Modern — a post which sees her collect works for Tate in the Middle East and South Asia....

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