Busan Biennale 2020
Words at an Exhibition
an exhibition in ten chapters and five poems
September 5–November 8, 2020
Organized by Artistic Director, Jacob Fabricius. Busan Biennale 2020 invites over 80 fiction writers, poets, musicians, and contemporary artists to imagine a dynamic portrait of the city across three key venues
The Busan Biennale 2020 edition is pleased to announce its artistic theme, organized by Artistic Director Jacob Fabricius, of the exhibition opening this September. Words at an Exhibition — an exhibition in ten chapters and five poems examines the city of Busan to expand the various spectrums of a metropolis through artistic expressions. For the 2020 exhibition, ten fiction writers and one poet were invited to write on the characteristics of the city of Busan as a conceptual basis for selecting the artists, each responding through new commissions and existing works within the context of the exhibition. The authors have each created and written fictional layers around and about the city, some with direct reference to Busan, others through indirect and ephemeral urban tales involving the locale. Mixing past, present, and future, the artists and writers involved in the exhibition use Busan as a backdrop in ways that create a narrative that simultaneously combines reality, history, and imagination through experiences of contemporary fiction, a focus on soundscapes and film works, as well as paintings, photographs, sculptures, and site-specific installations.
“I am fascinated by the complexity of Busan, its history, and rapid urban development,” said Jacob Fabricius, Artistic Director, Busan Biennale 2020. “It is such a captivating challenge to imagine this exhibition through the prism of contemporary art, and merge it with the realms of literature, sound, and the visual. We have been challenged by the harsh Covid19 pandemic, but many artists have found new ways of researching and examining the city”
The title of the exhibition is derived from the Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky’s (1839–1881) Pictures at an Exhibition (1874). This suite of ten piano compositions is a sonic depiction of ten works by the artist Viktor Hartmann, a friend of Mussorgsky, who passed away in 1873. At its core, Pictures at an Exhibition is an homage and a remembrance for Viktor Hartmann. Borrowing this approach of translation, Busan Biennale 2020 will transform the exhibition into an act of homage that extends across writing, sonic artworks, and contemporary commissions.
We are proud to announce the participation:
Writers: Hyesoon Kim, Hye-Young Pyun, Solmay Park, Mark von Schlegell among others
Artists: Min Jung Song, Jos de Gruyter & Harald Thys, Bianca Bondi, Monica Bonvicini, Wonhee Noh, Aziz Hazara, Mercedes Azpilicueta, Jimin Bae, Lasse Krogh Møller, among others
It will be held across three venues that span the old town, Yeongdo Harbor, and Eulsukdo in an attempt to summon the diversity of the city and its history. The selected spaces encompass exact locations mentioned in the fictional texts and poems. To come as close to some of the places mentioned in the short stories, spaces located in the central area of Jung-gu have been selected as exhibition sites. The Yeongdo bridge, Kangkangee Village are likewise mentioned in the stories—to represent these, a warehouse space in the harbor has also been selected as an exhibition venue. The final site, which will act as the main venue is the Museum of Contemporary Art, Busan (MOCA), located on Eulsukdo.
The audience will be able to tour significant areas and symbols of the modern Korean history by walking from Jung-gu and the old town to the bridge connecting Jungang-dong and Yeongdo. The areas represent both the history and the vast growth and development of Busan and South Korea. In Yeongdo, an industrial port area, visitors can discover migration and transport based on economic revival. Above all, the attempt to connect the two islands through urban historical aspects and cultural values—between Yeongdo and Eulsukdo—will be conducted for the first time for this 2020 edition in the history of the Busan Biennale.