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Gwangju Biennale Book Launch: Shifting Gravity A Discourse on Biennials

The Gwangju Biennale Foundation is pleased to invite you to the launch of the book Shifting Gravity on the 30th of May at Hotel Monaco & Grand Canal in Venice, Italy. This book, published by the Gwangju Biennale Foundation and Hatje Cantz, presents the issues, discourses, and practices that have been evolving over the past 20 years with the development of biennials around the globe.

Cover Image: Choi Jeong Hwa, Welcome!, 2013. Installation at the Kimdaejung Convention Center, designed for World Biennial Forum Nº 1.
Cover Image: Choi Jeong Hwa, Welcome!, 2013. Installation at the Kimdaejung Convention Center, designed for World Biennial Forum Nº 1.
The catalyst for this publication was the World Biennial Forum No.1, an international forum held in Gwangju, South Korea in October 2012. The forum and publication were organized through the collaboration of the Gwangju Biennale Foundation, the Biennial Foundation, and the ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen). During the five-day forum, directors and representatives of biennials and a number of professionals discussed a wide range of issues regarding biennials and their meaning as a global cultural phenomenon.

Shifting Gravity is composed of three main essays on the theme of biennials and thirty-nine essays on different biennials held around the globe. Ute Meta Bauer and Hou Hanru, the directors of the forum, took on the role of editors for the publication of the book.

The three main essays on the notion of a “shifting gravity” were written by Chantal Mouffe (University of Westminster), Wang Hui (Tsinghua University) and Nikos Papastergiadis (University of Melbourne). The essays examine and critique the context and mutual relationships between biennials and contemporary social conditions, including the global capitalist system and its political structure, cosmopolitanism, and other global cultural phenomena.

The primary focus of these essays is the idea of biennials as a rare institutional ground for presenting experimental and radical discourses on sociopolitical phenomena through contemporary art. In addition, the main essays examine and critique the issue of how biennials have connected themselves to the branding of their host cities.

Continuing from the main essays that open the book, the essays on individual biennials provide a unique and practical look at biennials under the theme of “shifting gravity.” Professionals from various biennials were invited to the forum and asked to contribute to the discourse that was to appear in the book. Shifting Gravity focused in particular on biennials in Asia that have been rapidly growing and expanding since the 1990s, considering their role and function along with their engagement of their audiences.

Shifting Gravity also presents biennials that are happening at the periphery of Asia or biennials in unique situations. These include the Ural Industrial Biennial of Contemporary Art in Ekaterinburg, Russia; the Istanbul Biennial in Istanbul, a city located on the route that connects Europe and Asia; the Sharjah Biennial in the UAE; and Meeting Points, a contemporary art festival “from the Arab world.” Biennials that are held with specific objectives or under certain limitations are also the focus of Shifting Gravity. The book includes essays on the Emergency Biennale in Chechnya, Land Art Mongolia, and the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, the first international contemporary art biennial in India.

The list of contributors to Shifting Gravity includes Shahidul Alam, Elke aus dem Moore, Ute Meta Bauer, Jeesook Beck, Rene Block, Fang-Wei Chang, Raphael Chikukwa, Tarek Abou El Fetouh, Joseph Grima, Hou Hanru, Ranjit Hoskote, JEON Joonho, Evelyne Jouanno, Kim Hong-Hee, Riyas Komu, Lian Ladia, Yongwoo Lee, MOON Kyungwon, Chantal Mouffe, Ou Ning, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Bige Örer, Eriko Osaka, Hyungmin Pai, Nikos Papastergiadis, Mauro Petroni, Alisa Prudnikova, Hoor Al Qasimi, Zhang Qing, Marc Schmitz, Alya Sebti, Basak Senova, Marie Le Sourd, Alia Swastika, Ritsuko Taho, Arlette Quynh-Anh Tran, Wato Tsereteli, Caroline Turner, Marieke van Hal, Wang Huangsheng, Wang Hui, Jonathan Watkins, Zheng Yan, Jinsang Yoo, Ursula Zeller.

In addition, a research report on the financial infrastructure of eight contemporary art biennials, compiled by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV), provides an insight into the fiscal reality of international “biennial making.” Participating biennials: Berlin Biennale, Bienal de São Paulo, Biennale of Sydney, Gwangju Biennale, Istanbul Biennial, Liverpool Biennial, Biennale de Lyon, Manifesta.

For RSVP please contact: Serene Pac, [email protected]

May 30, 2013, 6–8pm
Hotel Monaco & Grand Canal
Crozzola Hall
Venice, Italy

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