June 23, 2012 - Gwangju Biennale - Gwangju Folly 2012 announces curators
June 23, 2012

Gwangju Folly 2012 announces curators

Ai Weiwei, Book Café (Elevation South), Preliminary Design for Gwangju Folly 2012. Image courtesy of the artist.

Gwangju Folly 2012 
announces curators


The Gwangju Biennale Foundation has appointed Nikolaus Hirsch as director and Philipp Misselwitz and Eui Young Chun as curators of the Gwangju Folly 2012 project. Their curatorial approach describes a folly as a critical object that oscillates between aesthetic autonomy and social-political potential. Situated in a field between a decontextualized status and contextualized condition the urban folly aims to readdress the contested question of public space.

The negotiation of public space in Gwangju has played a crucial role in the democratization of South Korea and has eventually become a global model and reference point for effective grassroots political mobilization. During the May 18, 1980 democratic uprising the city center became an urban stage for public demonstrations that triggered political transformation in the country. Today, a multitude of commemorative plaques, signs, and memorials mark historical sites of the uprising throughout Gwangju. In 2011, the Gwangju Uprising received global recognition through UNESCO, which included the movement into the UNESCO Memory of the World Register.

Instead of understanding public space as a mere question of preservation, the project aims to use the Gwangju Folly project as an investigative frame to examine the present day constitution of spatial practice—in contemporary Gwangju as well as in a global arena. The project will feature several artists, architects, writers, and collectives from diverse contexts. Expanding select locations across the city, Gwangju Folly will present new commissions in November 2012. The physical manifestations of the project will be accompanied by a symposium, several workshops, and a publication.


Nikolaus Hirsch is the director of Städelschule and Portikus in Frankfurt. His architectural work includes the award-winning Dresden Synagogue (2001), unitednationsplaza (2007), European Kunsthalle (2007), the Cybermohalla Hub in Delhi (2008–2012), and currently a new studio structure for The Land (with Rirkrit Tiravanija and Kamin Letchaiprasert). Hirsch curated ErsatzStadt: Representations of the Urban at Volksbühne Berlin (2005), Cultural Agencies in Istanbul (2010), Globe (2011), The Frankfurt Conversation (with Hans Ulrich Obrist, 2011), and numerous exhibitions at the Portikus Kunsthalle. He is the author of the books On Boundaries (2007), Track 17 (2009), Institution Building (2009), and Cybermohalla Hub (2012).

Philipp Misselwitz is an architect and curator based in Berlin and currently a professor of International Urbanism at Stuttgart University. He has worked as a consultant, researcher, and curator for a number of organizations including German Development Cooperation (GIZ) and the United Nations. His curatorial work includes Space Time Dignity Rights (DAZ Berlin, 2012) which will be shown at the World Urban Forum in Naples in September 2012. His curatorial work (with Can Altay) also includes Refuge (2009), commissioned by the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam (2009); Open City Istanbul (2010), Cultural Agencies (2010) in Istanbul; City of Collision in Jerusalem (2008); European Kunsthalle (2007); and Liminal Spaces (2007).

Eui Young Chun is a Seoul-based architect and professor at the Graduate School of Architecture at Kyonggi University. He completed his PhD at Seoul National University in 1999 and is a graduate of the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. His work includes the remodeling of L-view Building in Seoul (2000), the Kwon hospital in Suwon-City (2002), the headquarters for Noblesse in Seoul (2004), ‘K’ Publishing in Paju (2005), and the Kyonggi University Graduate School of Architecture Building (2011). Chun also led the Seoul Design Olympiad in 2009 as Director General.

About the Gwangju Biennale 
Founded in 1995 in memory of the civil uprising and the 1980 Gwangju Democratization Movement, the Gwangju Biennale is Asia’s oldest and most prestigious bienniale of contemporary art. Under the helm of previous curators—including Massimiliano Gioni, Okwui Enwezor, Charles Esche, Hou Hanru, Honghee Kim, Yongwoo Lee, Kwangsoo Oh, Wankyoung Sung, and Harald Szeemann—the Gwangju Biennale has established itself as a highlight of the international contemporary art biennale circuit.

The Gwangju Folly Project
Previously an integral part of the Design Biennale, the Gwangju Folly project will be completed by November 2012, for the first time, as an independent event. Under the curatorship of leading artists and architects such as Seung H-sang and Ai Weiwei in the previous edition, the Gwangju Folly project has invited some of the most renowned spatial practitioners in the world, such as Peter Eisenman and Alejandro Zaera-Polo, to construct permanent follies in the urban space of Gwangju.

For further details
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

For information about the Folly project, please contact Jinchun Park: jinchun.park@gwangjubiennale.org
For press related inquiries, please contact Alice S. Kim: alice.kim@gwangjubiennale.org.

Gwangju Biennale
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