14th Gwangju Biennale
soft and weak like water
April 7–July 9, 2023
Preview days: April 5–6
Titled soft and weak like water, the 14th Gwangju Biennale will unfold over five venues throughout the city of Gwangju: the Gwangju Biennale Exhibition Hall, Gwangju National Museum, Horanggasy Artpolygon, Mugaksa, and Artspace House. Curated by Artistic Director Sook-Kyung Lee, Associate Curator Kerryn Greenberg, and Assistant Curators Sooyoung Leam and Harry C. H. Choi, it will present works by 79 artists, over 40 of which are new works and commissioned projects that have not been exhibited previously.
The final artist list is: Larry Achiampong, Abbas Akhavan, Farah Al Qasimi, Mamma Andersson, Tarek Atoui, melanie bonajo, Bakhyt Bubikanova, Hera Büyüktaşcıyan, Edgar Calel, María Magdalena Campos-Pons, Chang Jia, Huong Dodinh, Latifa Echakhch, Cheol-woo Gu, Taloi Havini, James T. Hong, Hong Lee Hyun Sook, Sky Hopinka, IkkibawiKrrr, Arthur Jafa, Tess Jaray, Jeoung Jae Choul, Anne Duk Hee Jordan, Yeon-gyun Kang, Naiza Khan, Yuki Kihara, Christine Sun Kim, Kira Kim, Kim Kulim, Minjung Kim, Soun-Gui Kim, Kim Youngjae, Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Meiro Koizumi, Abdoulaye Konaté, Chila Kumari Singh Burman, Lee Kun-Yong, Seung-ae Lee, Seung-taek Lee, Kim Lim, Candice Lin, Tanya Lukin Linklater, Liu Jianhua, Taus Makhacheva, Guadalupe Maravilla, Noé Martínez, Mataaho Collective, Mayunkiki, Alan Michelson, Małgorzata Mirga-Tas, Naeem Mohaiemen, Yuko Mohri, Betty Muffler, Aliza Nisenbaum, Lucia Nogueira, Oh Suk Kuhn, Oh Yoon, Oum Jeongsoon, Pan Daijing, Pangrok Sulap, Sopheap Pich, Abel Rodríguez, Taiki Sakpisit, Mmakgabo Helen Sebidi, Angélica Serech, Thasnai Sethaseree, Dayanita Singh, Buhlebezwe Siwani, Emilija Škarnulytė, Vivian Suter, Yuma Taru, Charwei Tsai, Judy Watson, Alberta Whittle, Santiago Yahuarcani, I-Lann Yee, Yu Jiwon, Robert Zhao Renhui, David Zink Yi.
A Source of Fluid Imagination: New artistic projects inspired by soft and weak like water
Whether as a subject of exploration, inquiry, or metaphor, the Biennale’s theme serves as a source for a significant number of new works and commissions.
Tarek Atoui, who makes sound recordings in close proximity to, or under, water to document the ecological, historical, and industrial realities of coastal cities, has collaborated with local artisans and musicians in Korea to develop an ensemble of instruments and sound objects activated through a series of collective workshops.
Meiro Koizumi’s new five-channel projection installation, Theater of Life (2023), traces the diasporic history of Koryo-in, a group of ethnic Koreans who were forcibly relocated from Russia’s Far East to Central Asia by Stalin in the 1930s.
Taiki Sakpisit’s new work The Spirit Level (2023) documents the lives, dreams, and memories of the communities along the Mekong River to examine the politics of water, exploring how farmers and fishermen cope with ecological and social crises through practices of animism and shamanism.
A Site of Continued Growth and Development: New works developed from existing practices
Conceived during the COVID-19 pandemic and the manifold structural failures that it brought to the fore, the Biennale highlights processes of artistic inquiry and community building rather than relentless modes of production. For this purpose, artists were prompted to consider the exhibition an opportunity to renew and redirect their practices by expanding and enriching ongoing interests and projects.
Hong Lee Hyun Sook continues her exploration of the symbiosis between humans, the natural world, and inanimate objects in her new single-channel video which maps the artist’s journey climbing through the rocks of Wolchul Mountain, located in South Jeolla province in South Korea.
Anne Duk Hee Jordan will debut a suite of interactive robots at the Biennale, merging them with immersive installations that develop out of Jordan’s continued fascination with marine life, technology, sexuality, nutrition, and ecology.
Edgar Calel will present a new work on paper that draws on childhood memories of a house that he used to live in with his grandmother, complementing an ongoing installation that pays homage to the rituals of the Kaqchikel people from which he hails.
A Confluence of Creative Undertakings: External Biennale locations and public programs
The Biennale will unfold across the city of Gwangju and feature works that respond to the selected venues’ unique architectural, historical, and cultural contexts.
Commissioned by the Biennale and Canal Projects, Candice Lin’s new installation consists of ceramic sculptures inspired by Korea’s traditional buncheong technique, factory workstations, and animated videos, presented in conversation with the Gwangju National Museum’s ceramic collection.
At Horanggasy Artpolygon, a community art space located on the foothill of Yangnim Mountain bearing histories of Japanese colonization, resistance, and evangelization in Korea, Vivian Suter will present a series of painterly interpretations of Amazon landscapes. Jeoung Jae Choul’s work will also explore the relationship between humankind and nature through tracing disposed objects floating in the ocean.
Buddhist temple Mugaksa will feature meditative works that reflect on the cyclical nature of life by artists including Liu Jinhua and Huong Dodinh. Liu’s work reinterprets the Chinese ceramic tradition, prompting a reconsideration of the self and the world by evoking the “awakening” in Zen Buddhism. Dodinh, who left Vietnam and settled in France due to the Vietnam War, creates abstract paintings that trace inner creative motivation through almost imperceptible painterly expressions.
Artspace House, which hosts artist-run workshops and projects, will screen Naeem Mohaiemen’s dreamlike rumination on love and loss told through the perspective of a man grieving his wife.
The full press release detailing further work and the public program information can be found here.