Minds Rising, Spirits Tuning: 13th Gwangju Biennale announces new dates

Gwangju Biennale

As a result of the global struggle with COVID-19, the 13th Gwangju Biennale, originally scheduled to take place from September 4 to November 29, 2020, has been postponed and will now be held from February 26 to May 9, 2021.

Sunjung Kim, President of the Gwangju Biennale Foundation: “Having adjusted the schedule from September 2020 to February next year, we will work to address the various challenges and variables that will arise in the production of this international art event that involves artists from around the world. In the midst of this global pandemic, the Gwangju Biennale is hoping for the prompt recovery and healing of the global society and the art world on a humanitarian level.”

Defne Ayas and Natasha Ginwala, Artistic Directors of the 13th Gwangju Biennale: “The pandemic has been such a test on our values, protocols, practices, and institutions globally. As contagion and vulnerability become entwined conditions, with massive numbers of lives lost globally, it has become even more vital to sustain public culture amidst drastic pulls between isolation and mass movements as well as human and planetary asymmetries. Despite the optimism brought by the response to the pandemic in South Korea, the decision to postpone the 13th Gwangju Biennale to February 2021 had to be taken.

While we, as curators, understand and acknowledge the precarious and problematic nature of biennales all over the world, we remain convinced that one must still strive to create an inclusive space that aims to harness ancient world-building systems with newly engendered spirits. Our commitment remains with artistic practices that enable mutating, itinerant, hybrid and, at times, undisciplined alliances. As such, we are working with artists and thinkers with mind-expanding practices that act beyond the binary framings of insider and outsider, legal and illegal, masculine and feminine. Each invested in traversing ancestral knowledge, augmented intelligence, and healing systems while honoring the foundational role of the undead in shaping registers of ‘the real’ across worlds of the living. We are grateful to each of them.”

Minds Rising
This bilingual online journal will be an extension of the research process behind the 13th Gwangju Biennale, featuring interdisciplinary content and artistic ideas. Serving as the “extended mind” of the Biennale and published on a bimonthly basis, Minds Rising has a tripartite focus: artistic/literary, scholarly, and theoretical. It lays the intellectual and artistic groundwork on which the biennale unfolds, and includes longread essays, poetry, sonic features and video space for participant contributions, as well as time-based and live programming.

The first issue features topics ranging from the history of women’s lives in Gwangju, to indigenous archaeology, to technology and algorithmic gender violence. Upcoming issues will explore online gaming culture and gender paradigms; plural cosmologies and the geopoetics of Eurasia; queer life trajectories embedded in indigenous shamanistic culture; fetishized “smart” technology in North Korean daily life; tragic historical traumas imprinted in female bodies from the Jeju and Gwangju uprisings in South Korea; connections between Buddhism and networked technology; the role of South Korean shamanism in healing societal wounds; and solidarity movements and planetary struggles after 1980. These subjects will illuminate the renewed global significance of the Gwangju Uprising, precisely forty years after the movement began.

The online platform is designed by Studio Remco van Bladel and Studio RGB, with managing editor Young-jun Tak.

Stronger than Bone
Understanding the wisdoms possessed and disseminated through female networks of solidarity is a vivid and urgent need as we attempt to chart futures that sustain gender justice and ethical coexistence on a breathing planet. The reader Stronger than Bone reveals various strands of our inquiry into these issues and engages wide-ranging topics, including the following: robotics and techno feminism; healing practices; sexual freedom and sexual violence; matriarchal cultures and shamanic deities; the gendered dimensions of self-optimization, digital identity and gaming culture; generational transmission of trauma from state violence; and race, repatriation and ecological violence in the Global South, among others. Key historical texts, archival finds, poetry and new commissions by a range of activists, theorists, philosophers, and writers grapple with how gender politics might be reconfigured in a world transformed by automation, planetary toxicity, and nationalist ideologies. Contributors include Wendy Hui Kyong Chun and Sarah Friedland, Maya Indira Ganesh, Laurel Kendall, Seong Nae Kim, Angela Melitopoulos, Soraya Murray, Outi Pieski and Eeva-Kristiina Harlin, Djamila Ribeiro, and Cecilia Vicuña, among others.

Stronger than Bone is co-published with Archive Books, Berlin, and is edited by Defne Ayas, Natasha Ginwala, and Jill Winder. The Korean version of the reader will be available as NOON #8, the journal of the Gwangju Biennale Foundation.

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