Gwangju Biennale

Tintin Wulia, Nous ne notons pas les fleurs, Fort Ruigenhoek, 2011. Game performance and installation view. Courtesy of the Artist and Kaap/Stichting Storm.

August 20, 2012

ROUNDTABLE: The 9th Gwangju Biennale
September 7–November 11, 2012

The Gwangju Biennale Foundation
111 Biennale-ro, Buk-gu
Gwangju, Republic of Korea, 500-845

T +82(0)62 608 4114
F +82(0)62 608 4219

Co-Artistic Directors: Nancy Adajania, Wassan Al-Khudhairi, Mami Kataoka, Sunjung Kim, Carol Yinghua Lu, and Alia Swastika

Gwangju redefines the biennale as a series of mutable possibilities
Amidst the incessant march of an ever-growing number of international biennales and the archetypal behemoth, multi-sensory biennale-as-ultimate-cultural-maker-cum-social-event, it takes a certain degree of self-assured conviction to present a non-monumental series of narratives around such open-ended principles as non-hierarchical mutuality and dialogue. Yet this is exactly what ROUNDTABLE: The 9th Gwangju Biennale seeks to do.

Collaboratively shaped by six Co-Artistic Directors and six interrelating subthemes, ROUNDTABLE confronts us with divergent reflections on a central hypernym. Logging In and Out of Collectivity explores the navigation between evolving constructs of the ‘individual’ vs. the ‘collective’ and the entanglement of seemingly dissimilar histories at moments of crisis. Re-visiting History presents history in flux, challenging what we remember and what we invent within both personal and national narratives. Transient Encounters recognizes the reality of continuous change and the necessity to be open to possibilities of transformation and temporal fragmentation. Intimacy, Autonomy and Anonymity explores the multi-layered reality of history beyond grand political and social narratives, to reveal overlooked traces of individual lives within a city. The dominant neoliberal economic and political discourses place an even greater importance on the value of the individual spirit in remaking regional and global histories as we return Back to the Individual Experience. Cutting across all of these themes is the Impact of Mobility on Space and Time, as modern transnational realities and the simultaneous loosening / tightening of borders, migration and identity necessitate an investigation of different interpretations of mobility, spatiality, and temporality.

With its stress on finding points of interconnection, the conversational structure of ROUNDTABLE resembles a complicated Venn diagram, as many of the biennale’s over 92 participating artists and collectives could simultaneously be understood within multiple subthemes. The curators’ dialogue between disparate international, regional, and local spheres of cultural production naturally led to a series of residencies, new commissions and site-specific works created in direct conversation with the city while maintaining the integrity of individual practices of the participating artists.

ROUNDTABLE’s collective yet contrapuntal approach incorporates a multiplicity of perspectives that are allowed to comingle, unresolved, forcing us to reconsider basic presumptions about the biennale format and challenge inherent hierarchical tensions between curator and artist / artist and audience / exhibition and city / individual and group.

Forgoing the traditional is not out of character for the Gwangju Biennale, which, as the first contemporary biennale in Asia, has shaped the development of contemporary Asian art institutions and their international perception. Founded in 1995 in memory of the 1980 civil uprising for democratization, since its inception the Gwangju Biennale has preferred to function as an experimental platform that is participatory rather than didactic. Resisting the tendency of biennales to operate as venues for nationalistic identity production, the Gwangju Biennale seeks to continually challenge its own identity through negotiations with the rapidly shifting discourses of contemporary global cultural production. By embracing plurality in theme, structure, and methodology, ROUNDTABLE continues this evolving conversation.

For a full list of participating artists and a continually updated schedule, please visit

ROUNDTABLE: Public opening Friday, September 7th
The public opening is punctuated with performances by Aki Sasamoto, CAMP, Royce NG and Han Dong (accompanied by Sheng Jun). Along with the 8,100 square meter Gwangju Biennale Hall, ROUNDTABLE incorporates locations across the city including the Gwangju Museum of Art, Cinema Gwangju, Daein Market, and Temple Mugak-sa.

Workstation 2 “ROUNDTABLE: Where Do We Sit”
During the public opening from 10–6pm
Curated by Wassan Al-Khudhairi, Carol Yinghua Lu, and Alia Swastika, this one-day program comprises a series of conversations, artist interventions, and performances, inviting direct audience engagement with the exhibition. Discussions center on ideas of self-definition, collaboration, interdisciplinary connections and community intervention. The program concludes with a conversation between the six Co-Artistic Directors.

Documentation of Workstation 1 “Self-Organisation as Ethic,” curated by Nancy Adajania (Gwangju/Seoul, February 2012) will be available on the ROUNDTABLE website.

ROUNDTABLE E-Journal I: Back to the Individual Experience, Edited by Carol Yinghua Lu will be released via the website and biennale mailing list. The second E-Journal will be edited by Sunjung Kim and the third by Wassan Al-Khudhairi.

Media Contact
Public Relations Department / Alice S. Kim
T +82(0)62 608 4222 / F +82(0)62 608 4229 / [​at​]

The Press/Professional Accreditation Request Form is available via: accreditation [​at​]



ROUNDTABLE: The 9th Gwangju Biennale
Gwangju Biennale
August 20, 2012

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