Madang: Where We Become Us Gwangju Biennale Foundation 30th Anniversary Exhibition


20th April — 24th November 2024
Il Giardino Bianco Art Space

Madang: Where We Become Us, a special commemorative archival exhibition marking the 30th anniversary of the Gwangju Biennale Foundation, reflects on the biennale’s history and envisions its future. The Gwangju Biennale has evolved into Asia’s leading contemporary art biennale by intertwining the “spirit of Gwangju,” which embodies values such as revolution, democracy, and community, with the realm of art. This exhibition, comprised of archival materials accumulated over the years, works from the Gwangju Biennale Foundation collection, and additional works expanding its significance, does not merely seek to chronicle the biennale’s history; it has the overarching goal of proposing a perspective that contemplates the spirit of Gwangju through the gaps and scenes existing within materials and artworks, reestablishing the contemporary value of the Gwangju Biennale.

The title of the exhibition includes the Korean word madang, literally translating as “yard” in English; it signifies a core space in Korean. In traditional Korean residences, the yard serves as the “face” of the house, a pivotal element so integral to the house’s structure that a dwelling lacking a yard would not be considered a proper home. Furthermore, the yard functions as a space for communication, where various gatherings take place, both significant and minor decisions are made within the village, and festivities are held—essentially serving as a place where people constantly come and go. This exhibition illuminates the Gwangju Biennale’s past fourteen exhibitions through fourteen “madang,” each representing previous biennales.

Functioning as a gateway to contemporary international art, the Gwangju Biennale has moved beyond merely importing Western art to embrace the synchronic flows and cultural diversity of global art that extends to South America, Africa, and the Middle East. The themes explored in the Gwangju Biennale’s exhibitions, such as the climate crisis, race, gender, and democracy, are a testament to its endeavor to transcend geographical boundaries and contemplate the era from a planetary perspective. Simultaneously, the discourse of community, an integral part of the Gwangju Biennale from its inception, has sought multifariousness in various scales and forms, ranging from Gwangju city to Korea, Asia, and the global community. Against the backdrop of ongoing wars, discrimination, and hatred towards minorities across the globe, the Gwangju Biennale Foundation once again affirms the power of art as a madang, symbolizing diversity and inclusion.


Opening Ceremony
18th April 2024, 11 am
Il Giardino Bianco Art Space

Madang Dialogues in Venice — “Do biennials weather?”
18th April 2024, 2 pm
Il Giardino Bianco Art Space

Thinking about the perennial events’ life cycles – their temporal and durational nature – we hope to explore how biennials around the world seek to be ‘in time’ with the present moment, yet by making references to the past and speculating on the future. Considering time through the metaphorical notion of weathering, this roundtable will bring together different perspectives on what it means to historicize and commemorate a biennial such as the Gwangju Biennale, and to discuss the relevance of biennials as a format, concept, and methodology.

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