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Busan Biennale moves up opening to August for 1st time

Installation view of the 11th edition of the Busan Biennale, which ran from Sept. 3 to Nov. 6, 2022 / Courtesy of Busan Biennale Organizing Committee

For the first time in its two-decade history, the 12th edition of the Busan Biennale, one of Korea’s major art biennials alongside the Gwangju Biennale, has brought forward its opening date to August.This strategic shift aims to cater to a wider audience, including families on vacation, and to showcase the southeastern port city’s identity as the country’s summer capital, according to the Busan Biennale Organizing Committee.Led by co-artistic directors Vera Mey from New Zealand and Philippe Pirotte from Belgium, the upcoming iteration will run from Aug. 17 to Oct. 20 under the theme of “Seeing in the Dark.”The theme proposes a reimagining of humanity’s stance within the darkness of contemporary times. It aims to transcend conventional modes of thinking entrenched within existing societal structures and norms, delving into alternative realms of spirituality, cultural identity and ideology.

Drawing inspiration from the concept of “pirate utopias” as early forms of autonomous anarchist societies, as well as the Buddhist notion of “doryang” as a place separate from the secular world, this year’s exhibition will showcase the works of participating artists through fluid and unpredictable approaches to demonstrate how art can be “rewilded” and liberated from constraints. The 65-day event will primarily unfold in two venues: the Busan Museum of Contemporary Art and the underground vault gallery of the renovated Busan Modern and Contemporary History Museum.The latter, which opened its doors last December, is a former Busan branch building of the Bank of Korea (BOK). Its underground exhibition space still retains the traces of its past, including the vault’s iron bars, double door and locking mechanisms.Plans are also underway to explore additional spaces in older downtown neighborhoods and repurpose them as exhibition halls to better represent the dynamic modern history of the southern port city.Furthermore, the biennale is set to feature a variety of cross-genre satellite programs through collaborations with cultural organizations, curators and participating artists.These include “Pirate Panel” discussions and “Pirate Carnival,” which serves as an interactive platform for lectures, sound performances, pop-up live radio sessions 슬롯게이밍 and costume festivals.

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