Throughout history, follies have been used widely in architecture, visual arts, and literature as a provocation, a frivolous diversion or strategic place of madness and satire freed from the constraints of societal norms.

Follies have been employed as a critical medium or object, oscillating between aesthetic autonomy and social-political potential and situated in a field between decontextualized status and contextualized condition.

Nikolaus Hirsch (director), Philipp Misselwitz and Eui Young Chun (curators) have developed a curatorial approach for Gwangju Folly II, which uses the ambiguities of a Folly as a tool of inquiry to address the expectations of public space. The transformative potential of public space has been etched into public consciousness ever since the ten-day pro-democracy uprising in May 1980, which took place in the streets and squares of Gwangju. Revisiting some of these historic sites, a series of newly commissioned Follies seek to test the constitution and potential of public space today—in contemporary Gwangju as well as in the global political arena

Gwangju Folly II will commission new works from the following architects, artists, collectives, and writers:

  • David Adjaye & Taiye Selasi
  • Ai Weiwe
Seok Hong Go & Mihee Kim

  • Rem Koolhaas & Ingo Niermann,
  • Raqs Media Collective
Do-Ho Suh,
  • Superflex
 Eyal Weizman

Nikolaus Hirsch is the director of Städelschule and Portikus in Frankfurt. His architectural work includes the award-winning Dresden Synagogue (2001), unitednationsplaza (2007), European Kunsthalle (2007), the Cybermohalla Hub in Delhi (2008–2012), and currently a new studio structure for The Land (with Rirkrit Tiravanija and Kamin Letchaiprasert). Hirsch curated ErsatzStadt: Representations of the Urban at Volksbühne Berlin (2005), Cultural Agencies in Istanbul (2010),Globe (2011), The Frankfurt Conversation (with Hans Ulrich Obrist, 2011), and numerous exhibitions at the Portikus Kunsthalle. He is the author of the books On Boundaries (2007), Track 17 (2009),Institution Building (2009), and Cybermohalla Hub (2012).

Philipp Misselwitz is an architect and curator based in Berlin and currently a professor of International Urbanism at Stuttgart University. He has worked as a consultant, researcher, and curator for a number of organizations including German Development Cooperation (GIZ) and the United Nations. His curatorial work includes Space Time Dignity Rights (DAZ Berlin, 2012) which will be shown at the World Urban Forum in Naples in September 2012. His curatorial work (with Can Altay) also includesRefuge (2009), commissioned by the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam (2009); Open City Istanbul (2010), Cultural Agencies (2010) in Istanbul; City of Collision in Jerusalem (2008); European Kunsthalle (2007); and Liminal Spaces (2007).

Eui Young Chun is a Seoul-based architect and professor at the Graduate School of Architecture at Kyonggi University. He completed his PhD at Seoul National University in 1999 and is a graduate of the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. His work includes the remodeling of L-view Building in Seoul (2000), the Kwon hospital in Suwon-City (2002), the headquarters for Noblesse in Seoul (2004), ‘K’ Publishing in Paju (2005), and the Kyonggi University Graduate School of Architecture Building (2011). Chun also led the Seoul Design Olympiad in 2009 as Director General.

Graphic Design: Markus Weisbeck

The Gwangju Biennale and the Folly Project
Founded in 1995 in memory of the civil uprising and the 1980 Gwangju Democratization Movement, the Gwangju Biennale is one of Asia’s oldest and most prestigious biennials of contemporary art. Under the helm of previous curators—including Yongwoo Lee, Massimiliano Gioni, Okwui Enwezor, Charles Esche, Hou Hanru, Honghee Kim, Kwangsoo Oh, Wankyoung Sung, Youngchul Lee, Kerry Brougher, Sukwon Chang, and Harald Szeemann—the Gwangju Biennale has established itself as a highlight of the international contemporary art biennale circuit. Previously conceived of and presented as an integral part of the 4th Gwangju Design Biennale in 2011 by Artistic Directors Seung H-Sang and Ai Weiwei, the second edition of the Gwangju Folly project will be held as an independent event for the first time with a series of new Follies in the urban space of Gwangju.

Read more about Gwangju Biennale