11th Seoul Mediacity Biennale
One Escape at a Time
September 8–November 21, 2021
One Escape at a Time, the 11th Seoul Mediacity Biennale, opened to the public on September 8, 2021. Taking place after a yearlong postponement due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Biennale will be on view at the Seoul Museum of Art (SeMA) until November 21, 2021.
Hosted by SeMA, the Biennale brings together 58 works by 41 Korean and international artists and art collectives. Reflecting an emphasis on supporting new productions, exhibited works span from moving image and installation to photography, painting, drawing, sculpture, music, and performance.
Directed by Yung Ma, the 11th Seoul Mediacity Biennale is conceived as a proposition to reimagine escapism as a tool for navigating our fractured realities. It embraces this often misunderstood concept as a means to connect with the troubling world we live in and confront some of today’s most pressing and human questions.
One inspiration for the Biennale is the US sitcom One Day at a Time (2017–20), which charts the life of a three-generation Cuban American family in Los Angeles. Despite its conventional format, the streaming series flips the norms of media representation by disguising its central concerns with laughter while tackling such urgent sociopolitical issues as racism, gender, class, sexuality, identity, migration, and gentrification, among others. This strategy of turning escapist output into something that can accommodate more diverse, current, daring, multifaceted, and sociopolitical viewpoints underpins the approach of One Escape at a Time.
Notions of escape have become all the more relevant in light of the ongoing pandemic. The isolation of millions due to lockdown and other containment measures has fueled a mass appetite for different forms of micro-escape. And despite repeated calls for solidarity, the meaning of “togetherness” is also being relentlessly challenged and redefined in this new reality. Yet even if physical gatherings are strictly limited, realizing and opening the Biennale now—amid a fourth wave of infections in the greater Seoul area—is a reflection of the Biennale team’s belief in the importance of physical encounters with art, and a sign of our commitment to our local and immediate audiences. This staging of One Escape at a Time is a reminder that escapism can be a conduit for emotional and visceral connections—connections with each other, with our past and our present, and maybe even with the possibilities of a time to come.
Participants of One Escape at a Time, the 11th Seoul Mediacity Biennale:
Bani Abidi, Monira Al Qadiri, Amature Amplifier, Richard Bell, Johanna Billing, Pauline Boudry / Renate Lorenz, Chang Yun-Han, Chihoi, Minerva Cuevas, C-U-T (Niels Engström, Aron Fogelström, Victor Fogelström, Valentin Malmgren, Caio Marques de Oliveira, Karon Nilzén, and Ming Wong), Brice Dellsperger, DIS, Hao Jingban, Hapjungjigu, Sharon Hayes, Jinhwon Hong, Hsu Che-Yu, Geumhyung Jeong, Eisa Jocson, Kang Sang- woo, Kim Min, Sarah Lai, Oliver Laric, Li Liao, Life of a Craphead (Amy Lam and Jon McCurley), Lim Giong, Liu Chuang, Mackerel Safranski, Tala Madani, Henrike Naumann, ONEROOM, Yuri Pattison, Paul Pfeiffer, Hansol Ryu, Pilvi Takala, TASTEHOUSE × WORKS, Wang Haiyang, Cici Wu, Chikako Yamashiro, YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES, Tobias Zielony.
Echoes is the public program of One Escape at a Time. It encompasses art space collaborations, performances, online projects, guided tours, artist talks, lectures, workshops, and the citywide project Network. Taking place inside the exhibition, online, and throughout the city, Echoes extends the reach of the Biennale beyond the physical space of the museum to reverberate around Seoul, sending waves of visual and conceptual echoes across the city.
Sponsored by the Hana Financial Group and co-organized by Seoul Museum of Art in conjunction with the Seoul Mediacity Biennale, the SeMA-HANA Media Art Award is presented to a participant or participants in recognition of their vision and artistic contribution to the Biennale. For the 11th Seoul Mediacity Biennale, recipient(s) of the award will be selected by an international jury comprising Ahn Kyuchul, Artist and Head, SeMA Advisory Committee; Beck Jeesook, Director, Seoul Museum of Art; Susanne Pfeffer, Director, MUSEUM MMK FÜR MODERNE KUNST; Yung Ma, Artistic Director, 11th Seoul Mediacity Biennale; and June Yap, Director of Curatorial, Programmes and Publications, Singapore Art Museum. Deliberation will take place online in early October and the recipient(s) will be announced on 18 October 2021.
Directed by Yung Ma, One Escape at a Time, the 11th Seoul Mediacity Biennale, is organized together with Mi Seok Huh, Nam Woong Hwang, Haerim Jahng, Sunjoo Jung, Shinjae Kim, Jiwon Lee, Sijae Lee, Sinae Park, Claudia Pestana, Juyeon Song, Moon-Seok Yi, and Jiwon Yu.
Graphic Design: Wkshps in collaboration with Park-Langer
Architecture: Leeyongjae Architects
Technical Director: Kim Kyoungho
Editors: Jungmin Lee and Andrew Maerkle
Organizer: Seoul Museum of Art
Corporate Sponsors: Hana Financial Group and Hermès Korea
Biennale Patron: RC Foundation