The coming Busan Biennale will be based on collaborative work.

Titled the Garden of Learning, the exhibition’s Artistic Director, Roger M. Buergel (Berlin), is looking for people in Busan (and wider Korea) who would be interested in taking part in the exhibition’s making.Participants in the Garden of Learning will be working in close, sustained collaboration with both the Artistic Director and with Korean and international artists who come to Busan for certain periods of time.

Foreigners who come to a place are usually at a loss. Alone, they stand little or no chance of understanding South Korea’s complex political and cultural environment, or the many layers of meaning it entails. Artists, not unlike other people, depend on close contact with others in an environment. They rely on individuals willing to show them around and who speak to them from their own experience, and it is these conversations that allow them to make work that really fits the place, can take root and blossom, and has a lasting impact on the community.

Collaborative work is not a one-way street. I will do my best that all visitors to the Garden of Learning—especially the people who collaborate with the artists—stand to benefit from these lively encounters. Contemporary art tends to look dry and abstract if audiences are nothing but consumers of a finished product (be it a painting, a sculpture or an installation), or if they are mere participants in a game, the rules of which they cannot change.

By contrast, Garden of Learning encourages local people to play an active role in the exhibition’s creative process. For an institution like the Busan Biennale, the decision to open up by inviting and including people is not without its risks. But without risk, there is also no fun. In fact, the entire process of artistic creation is risky: rich in possibilities but, alas, also prone to failure.

Garden of Learning refutes business-as-usual. This exhibition strives for a singular aesthetic experience that foregrounds and shares the mysteries of artistic creation. There is no law governing these mysteries and, to repeat the warning, there is a chance that these mysteries will not happen at all. But if they do, the mysteries of art reveal themselves as keys to the mysteries of life.

For this very reason, artists are confronting issues that are relevant to all people: identity, nature, authority, betrayal, work, poverty, intense love, hunger, birth and death.

To bring artists and audiences in touch with each other, Garden of Learning will set up several Learning Councils, each consisting of 10–12 people. These Learning Council will interact directly with artists and the Artistic Director for a period of 10 months, with a meeting or workshop held at least every month, until the opening of the exhibition (on Sept. 22, 2012). People taking part in this program will, of course, be modestly compensated for their expenses.

During the exhibition, the members of the Learning Councils are invited to work as educators. Their strong expertise in the artistic experience will enable the wider audience to become familiar with the exhibition.

People who are interested to collaborate closely with the international artists and the Artistic Director of Busan Biennale 2012 and are ready to join Learning Councils are invited to sketch out their interest and expectations in a few sentences, and to submit their letter of interest until Jan. 30, 2012, to:

Roger M. Buergel, Artistic Director of Busan Biennale 2012, 38 Busan Asian Maid Stadium, 123 Worldcup st., Yeonje-Gu, Busan, 611-809 Korea or bsbiennale2012@gmail.com.

Read more about Busan Biennale