Opening week of the 11th Gwangju Biennale

Preview days: August 31–September 1
Opening ceremony: September 1, 6pm
“To All the Contributing Factors” forum: September 2–4

The exhibition part of the 11th Gwangju Biennale entitled The Eighth Climate (What Does Art Do?) opens to the public on September 2, 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 it lands in different contexts, and how it sits in society and creates 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, a blog, and 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 but also open up the crucial nodal points for furthering the process and for debate, which includes the presentation of 28 commissions and a lively program. The commissions include Dora García’s reconstruction of the Nokdu bookstore that played a crucial role in the May 18 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, 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 local 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. Most of these contributing artists will give personal introductions to their own works beside the curatorial team’s own introduction to the Biennale.

On September 2–4 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. A handful of lectures by 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 will be shared on the first day of the forum, which 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 participating artist Mohammad Salemy also moderates a session.

More information, including the list of contributing artists and fellows, is available at the Metahaven-designed blog www.the8thclimate.org. You are very welcome to join us!

—From the curatorial team: Maria Lind, artistic director, Binna Choi, curator, Azar Mahmoudian, Margarida Mendes, and Michelle Wong, assistant curators.

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