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Seoul Mediacity Biennale challenges conventional exhibition format

All Headlines 16:42 September 05, 2018

By Woo Jae-yeon

SEOUL, Sept. 5 (Yonhap) -- Since it started in 2000, the Seoul Mediacity Biennale has been focusing on expanding the scope of artistic media and seeking the potential for Seoul to become a regional hub of media art and related technologies.

This year, the biennale tries to push the boundary of its format and explore ways to upgrade the conventional setup to be used as an "agora," a public discussion venue, to talk about various issues that affect people's lives.

Beyond curating artworks under a specific theme overseen by a single director, it gets to operate under one directorial collective comprising four directors from such fields as dance, film, literature, art and economics.

Each director, in turn, invites artists, scholars, academics and activists from diverse industries -- 68 individuals or teams from 16 nations -- to ignite discussions on the subject of "Eu Zen," ancient Greek words for a good life.

A visitor looks around the exhibition hall of the Seoul Museum of Art (SeMA), where the 10th Seoul Mediacity Biennale, "Eu Zen," will open on Sept. 5, 2018. (Yonhap)

At the press conference held at the Seoul Museum of Art (SeMA) on Wednesday, independent curator Kim Jang-eon said it was "a new attempt" for the directors with different experiences and expertise to work together and draw one subject for the biennale.

"It was quite a challenge, but not bad after all. We fine-tuned our different opinions and got to know each other. ... In the end, we recognized our differences and understood where each other came from."

A biennale, Kim said, has a huge potential as a platform to try different things and this one will serve as a test bed for the possibility.

Another director, Kim Nam-soo, said the biennial event is not to answer the question of "What is a good life?" but to raise it and encourage participants and visitors to think and talk about the subject.

The photo shows an exhibition hall of the 10th Seoul Mediacity Biennale, "Eu Zen," at the Seoul Museum of Art (SeMA) on Sept. 5, 2018. (Yonhap)

Describing the biennale as "heuristic," Hong Ki-bin noted the importance of the agora set up in the museum's lobby, where lectures, exhibitions, discussions and forums are scheduled to take place during the event.

The museum said a biennale could realize a bigger potential by stepping out its traditional definition of being a large art exhibition. And the 10th biennale marks a small step toward realizing this new possibility.

Participants will talk about a wide variety of topics from democracy and the environment to artificial intelligence and from physical disabilities and science to economic activities.

A visitor checks out a work on display at the Seoul Mediacity Biennale, "Eu Zen," on Sept. 5, 2018. (Yonhap)

English economist and author Kate Raworth will run a session to talk about a need for the existing economic system to change to fix widespread social inequality. She is expected to introduce "Doughnut Economics" as a new economic paradigm.

Video artist group, Listen to the City, will show a 30-minute-long video, "No One Left Behind," which portrays the lives of social minorities, including the physically challenged, in the Pohang region, which was hit hard by earthquakes earlier this year.

Filmmaker Ahn Kearn-hyung will present a two-channel video titled "How to Stop Being Korean" that deals with Korean nationalism represented by the "Taegeukgi Rally." Taegukgi is the Korean national flag.

The biennale opens on Thursday and runs through Nov. 18.


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