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Gwangju Biennale 2016: Art with local relevancy and social participation at heart

According to Yonhap News,

(SEOUL=Yonhap News) A thirst for a paradigm shift from conventional biennales lies at the center of this year's Gwangju Biennale, the organizers said Friday.

At the biannual event, one of the most attended art festivals in Asia, there are two key words to ponder: "local embeddedness" and social participation. And to achieve that, extra emphasis was put on art's relevancy in the local community and its role as a medium that connects artists and local residents, art director Maria Lind said during a media briefing on Friday in downtown Seoul.

At the event, the organizers released a list of 97 artists from 37 countries around the world who will participate in "The Eighth Climate: What does art do?," the 11th biennale.

The Swedish art curator said she encouraged artists to think about ways to create art with materials that are locally available. Among the artworks that will be displayed in the southwestern city of Gwangju from September 2 to November 6, 40 percent will be created locally.

For the "locally embedded" art, the biennale has been deeply and actively engaged in the communication with Gwangju citizens by holding monthly gathering, tea times, reading sessions, schooling projects, artists screening, and curated walk around the city.

Spanish artist Fernando Garcia-Dory stayed in the city last month, laying some groundwork for his project that casts light on the relations between labor and local issues. He will stage a theatrical play with local farmers and bring the performance to the biennale hall. Through the performing arts, he plans to share his thoughts on the urban development and civic movements that raged in the city in the 1980s.

Another project that is of local significance is by Spanish artist Dora Gracia known for her reinterpretation of a space to interact with the audience. She will install a life-size local bookstore that played a historically significant role during the 1980 Gwangju democratic movement where student protesters hid to secretly discuss political matters.

The site of "Nokdu Bookstore," part of important narratives of the movement, has been designated as a historical site. Though now defunct, it will come alive in the "Nokdu Bookstore for the Living and the Dead" by the artist, who has done thorough research into the history of Korean democratic movements that swept across the city, the art director said.

Meanwhile, nine Korean artists also join their global peers in the biennale, with their eyes set particularly on the role of art in the labor environment and urban renewal projects defined by massive destruction and reconstruction.

Park In-sun, a Gwangju native, reevaluates old, crumbling buildings in the rundown areas of her hometown. Believing that a building reflects the zeitgeist, she rejects the conformity of urban regeneration and will recast the meaning of decades-old architecture regardless of however dilapidated they are.

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Source Text

Source: Yonhap News (May 20, 2016)