Seoul Mediacity Biennale

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It is great to be in Seoul and go to the Mediacity Biennale. Here is a selection of the most inspiring artworks we saw. They published the audioguide on Soundcloud so you can listen to the explaination and comments of the artists.

Detail of the poster of this years theme “Ghosts, spies and grandmothers”
Haegue Yang: Sonic Full Moon—Medium Regular #2 is a spherical object hung from the ceiling which chains of bells resembling tentacles are attached. When it is spun, the chains create a continuous pattern or ‘dance’ in a geometric shape. Taking hold of the grips attached to Sonic Dance—Half Sister, one could literally ‘dance partner’ through the exhibition space.
Nilbar Güreş: … The project was born out of Güreç’s occasional visits to her father’s hometown, a Kurdish and Alevi (an ethno-religious minority in Turkey) village in East Anatolia. The village is severely lacking in infrastructure; there is no school or hospital, water shortage and power cuts are part of daily life, and there is still no telephone network in the village. Eight other Alevi villages in the region suffer from similar governmental discrimination…
Basim Magdy: Part of a large collection of photographs that Magdy has been developing for several years, is Every Subtle Gesture, 2012. The images appear to be a form of documentation or a specialized archive, but in fact they are all disparate snapshots of some kind of fragment, and that seems to be the only strand binding them together. The phrase accompanying each snapshot encapsulates it as a surreal moment or part of an imaginary tale.
Joanna Lombard: Orbital Re-enactments, 2010 4 channel video installation (loop) Emotional mobilization, 12 min. Regression, fear of dissolving, 6 min. Breastfeeding by the mother as long as the child wants it, 6 min. Report of a group of Selbstdarstellungs, 6 min. yoanna2 Courtesy the artist The point of departure for Orbital Re-enactments is memories, those of Joanna Lombard and of others, which are re-enacted in four scenes. The stories concern the relationship between children and adults. The children are free individuals who have to make their own decisions; the adults transgress borders and act like children. The children are left to their own devices and live their own lives. The artwork also deals with issues such as the body and individuality; can the individual body be a collective body? The stories are inspired by Joanna’s childhood memories from the commune Ljusbacken where she grew up. Ljusbacken was a part of the 1960s counter-culture and its radical lifestyle experiments with behaviour and co-existence and was one of the biggest radical communes in Scandinavia.
Dinh Q. Lê: In Barricade, Dinh Q. Lê reflects on the legacy of the Vietnamese and Algerian peoples’ struggle against French colonialism. These revolutions have universal significance: across the continents of Asia to Africa, the same liberating wave to free the colonized “natives” of racial and cultural confinement was ushered in.
YAO Jui-chung: byond humanity photo series
From the series The Parallel Lives of Others—Encountering with Yoneda Tomoko: Sorge Spy Ring. Modern Hotel, Harbin (Clausen & Benedict), 2008 (detail view). In October 1941, immediately prior to the outbreak of the Pacific War, a spy ring led by Richard Sorge, code-named Ramsay, was apprehended by the police. Japan remained in a state of almost perpetual war from the end of the nineteenth century and, as a result, the government tended towards totalitarianism. People with a humanitarian outlook or those who witnessed or suffered from prejudice against the weak may have felt a need to devote themselves to social revolution or believed that communism presented the only answer. I became interested in the Sorge affair that unfolded against this historical background. The kind of double lives these spies were forced to lead for the sake of their ideology meant that their history was quite different from that of their family or friends. A parallel life was their true essence, their truth.
On the ground floor they had an ongoing presentation and education program.
Bae Young-whan: Autonumina—Ten Thousand Years’ Sleep, Seonbawi Inwang Mountain, 2010–2014 (detail view) In Inwang Mountain, Seoul, the sacred and the secular live together. The past and present coexist. Both ideas and reality stay together while soldiers, shamans, hikers and Buddhist monks get along with one another. Even political conspiracies and religions have left their marks there. The souls of the mountain and people meet on the rocks of Inwang Mountain. Spiritual nourishment for totems and shamans; hatred, reconciliation, fear and sympathy grow with those rocks as their background. Inwang Mountain has traces of Korea’s native religions and beliefs, ranging from mountain worship and rock totems of the ancient times to Confucianism, Buddhism and Zen Buddhism. Also, there are apartments and military camps at the foot of the mountain. Like fossils, Inwang Mountain compressively captures ideologies of the ruling class and common people. The mountain is huge but paradoxically a miniature where the history of Korean spirits, politics and customs coexist. For this exhibition, I display an installation of photographic and video images of Inwang Mountain combined with the existing artwork Autonumina. I wanted to show a complex map of our awareness through this work. It seems like the printed brain waves or the mountain of Bodhisattvas described in folk paintings. This installation seems a walk to search for our spiritual habitat while peeking around Inwang Mountain, the place where ideas of Lao-tzu, the Buddha, Dangun (the legendary founding father of the first Korean state), mountain gods and shamans have lived together. [Bae Young-whan]
Jawshing Arthur Liou: Kora. Video artist Jawshing Arthur Liou embarked on a 2,300-kilometer filming expedition that started from Lhasa, traveled through the Tibetan Plateau, and ultimately made sojourns to Mount Everest and Mount Kailash. The trip included a four-day kora—a walking circumambulation around Mount Kailash at an elevation between five and six thousand meters. The work traces the steps of pilgrims while presenting unique mountain landscapes, reverence for nature and a space of spiritual sanctuary.
Bae Young-whan: Autonumina—Ten Thousand Years’ Sleep, Seonbawi Inwang Mountain, 2010–2014 (detail view)
The second floor was dedicated to korean shamanism and showed videos and photographs.
The second floor was dedicated to korean shamanism and showed videos and photographs.
CHE Onejoon: Established in 1959 by the order of Kim Il-sung, Mansudae Art Studio plays a central role in enhancing North Korea’s national image by producing statues and portraits of the Dear Leader. The Mansudae Overseas Projects is an international commercial division of the studio. Starting with erecting the Tiglachin Monument in Ethiopia in 1974 without charging any cost, it constructed public buildings and monuments in a number of African countries such as Madagascar, Togo, Guinea and Ethiopia, all without asking for the cost of production. In 2010, Mansudae Overseas Projects received new attention when the African Renaissance was revealed in Dakar, the capital city of Senegal.
Detail view of CHE Onejoon work
Pictures of documents, silkscreen on black paper
Pictures of documents, silkscreen on black paper
Mikhail Karikis: Seawomen. SeaWomen focuses on the work and unique sonic sub-culture of a community of elderly female sea laborers called haenyeo who live on the isle of Jeju—a jagged patch of black volcanic rock that belongs to South Korea and floats between Japan and China. The majority of these women are between 60 and 80 years old and practice an ancient breathing technique— the sumbisori—which was passed on from one generation to another when girls began to be trained at the age of eight, and enables the women to dive to great depths for pearls and seafood. At once alarming and joyous, and often mistaken for birds or dolphin whistles, the sound of the sumbisori is as sharp as a blade marking the horizon between life and death in the dangerous daily life of the haenyeo.