The 7th Gwangju Biennale presents a series of plenary sessions

The 7th Gwangju Biennale presents a series of plenary sessions

Gwangju Biennale

August 25, 2008
The 7th Gwangju Biennale presents a series of plenary sessions

The Foundation for the Gwangju Biennale is pleased to announce that as part of the 7th Gwangju Biennale, Annual Report: A Year in Exhibitions, a series of plenary sessions will be held from October 28 until November 1, 2008 in Beijing in partnership with Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA), and the People’s University of China. The sessions, collectively entitled Formations of Global Civil Society and Domains of Public Culture, will be organized in the form of plenary sessions to explore the historical and contemporary dynamics of global civil society movements and their corollary expansion of domains of public culture. They will be formulated around three themes: civil society as a form of coalition building; civil society as a platform of the global social movements; and civil society in relation to nihilism.

One fundamental hallmark of the many conceptions of civil society is the collective expression, existing outside of — or adjacent to — formations of state power. In its many manifestations, civil society challenges assumptions and declarations of authority made by (or attributed to) the state, by providing a framework for civic assemblies that are by their very nature, extra-political associations. Within this framework, the question then becomes: what exactly defines the relationships between such assemblies and states? The various understandings of civil society today requires revisiting, especially given the existence of many states that are in transition; some appear to be succeeding, others failing, and others seem to be emerging into more stable stages of governance. Of particular interest are the specific dynamics of civil societies where state structures appear to be fragile, or in other cases, where these structures have developed a comprehensive level of stability.

The plenaries are inspired by the constellation of thought and activities surrounding the Gwangju Uprising of May 18, 1980. As a form of countercultural political expression, the Minjung movement was a prominent aspect of the South Korean democratization movement and social life for over three decades. It shares conceptual resemblance to many other recent formations of global civil society.

The plenary sessions are organized by the Civil Society working group: Okwui Enwezor (Artistic Director, 7th Gwangju Biennale and Dean of Academic Affairs and Senior Vice President at San Francisco Art Institute); Bingyi Huang (University at Buffalo, State University of New York); Gao Minglu (University of Pittsburgh); Ranjit Hoskote (Curator, 7th Gwangju Biennale and Centre for the Study of Developing Societies in New Delhi); Hyunjin Kim (Curator, 7th Gwangju Biennale and Goldsmith’s College, London); James M. Thomas (Stanford University); and Xu Bing (Beijing Central Academy of Fine Arts).

For detailed information on the biennale and the programs please visit the website:

For press information please contact:

Jin-Kyung Jeong
PR & Business Department, The Gwangju Biennale Foundation
Biennale 2-gil Buk-gu Gwangju, South Korea
Tel 82 62 608 4264 / Fax 82 62 608 4269
[email protected]

Image above:
Dictionary of War, 1st edition (June 2-3, 2006), Staedelschule, Frankfurt.
Reading performance and simultaneous web broadcast
Courtesy the artists. Photograph by Armin Smailovic.

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