Features / Focus

Preview of 2018 Biennales : Interview(1)
Seoul Mediacity Biennale Collective
Hong Gi-bin / Kim Nam-soo

posted 03 Aug 2018

Seoul Mediacity Biennale 2018

The 10th edition of 《Seoul Mediacity Biennale 2018》 (formerly SeMA Biennale: Mediacity Seoul) will be held for 74 days, from September 6th to November 18th, 2018. Hosted by the Seoul Metropolitan Government and organized by the Seoul Museum of Art, the biennale has become established as one of the most representative contemporary art events since its first edition held in 2000. Hosted every even-numbered year, it reflects Seoul as a central city for media art and technology, focusing on the diversity of artistic forms that expand our notion of media.

The 10th edition of the biennale has diverged from the previous structure of appointing a singular artistic director and has invited professionals from different fields (marked below as ‘the Collective’) to create a discursive public sphere. The biennale includes not only intellectuals from a broad range of fields such as art, economy, environment, politics, society and technology, but also aims for an exhibition that is open to the general public. In its attempt to maximize people’s access to culture and art, it aims to provide opportunities for a new social shift.

The Collective that will direct and curate 《Seoul Mediacity Biennale 2018》 consists of the following members: Hong Gi-bin, the director of the Global Political Ecomony Institute; Jang Daul, Senior Climate and Energy Campaigner at Greenpeace; Kim Jangun, independent curator; Kim Nam-soo, dance critic and Lim Kyung Yong, the owner of The Book Society (in alphabetical order). These people were nominated by SeMA and selected by a selection committee after thorough discussion and review. Based on close collaboration, the Collective is guiding the joint curatorial process of the Biennale.

The 10th edition of the Biennale contemplates the fundamental questions regarding the new values that humanity must pursue under the current social climate of surging uncertainty and doubt. At the same time, based on the exchanges and interdisciplinarity stimulated by contemporary art, this biennale aims to present the social role and function of art as a medium of communication, overcoming its traditional exclusively elitist status.

Hosts : Seoul Metropolitan Government
Organization : Seoul Museum of Art
Venue : Seoul Museum of Art and places around the Museum
Dates : 6th SEP 2018 –18th NOV 2018
Homepage : http://mediacityseoul.kr/

Interview(1) : Collective Hong Gi-bin

“I look forward to confusion and noises filling the exhibition hall because it is not White Cube, but the Agora.”
Hong Gi-bin / Seoul Mediacity Biennale 2018 Collective, Economist
Studied economics at Seoul National University and international relations at the SNU Graduate School. Completed doctoral course of political economy at York University. Translated a number of books into Korean: 『The Great Transformation』 by Karl Polanyi, 『Basic Income』 by Philippe Van Parijs, 『Karl Marx』 by Gareth Stedman Jones, to name a few. Wrote 『Wigforss: Welfare State and Provisional Utopia』. Currently working as the Director of Global Political Economy Institute and the Research Director of Karl Polanyi Institute Asia.

Specifically, what did you study in the vast field of economics?

It was in graduate school that I was officially taught about the global political economy. It was international finance, a subfield of international politics. I studied the corporate structures of Japan’s capitalism. That is what I learned from school. But I hated Neoclassical economics, even when I was a freshman. It was institutional economics that I studied as an economist. This was neither the mainstream Neoclassical economics, nor those non-mainstream schools such as Marxian or Keynesian economics. Institutional economics is different from all these types. Other fields of economics tend to be dependent upon analytical studies of several variables, causal relationships, and mathematical models, while institutional economics do not. The latter is interested more in understanding real world institutions, that is, specific social phenomena, than simply studying. So, it was under strong influence from Karl Polanyi and Thorstein Veblen.

Is there any intersection of economics with humanities and art sociology?

Yes, there is. The studies by Thorstein Veblen and Max Weber showed this, for instance. The theories by Werner Sombart are not different. These scholars considered economics as a field of science which includes the field of analyzing cultural phenomena. They were interested in how capitalist civilization was formed and where it was heading, and concluded that society is an extension of economic phenomena. Veblen, for instance, studied the ‘conspicuous consumption,’ focusing on the emulation (i.e. ‘imitation’) used by rich people as a means of ruling capitalism. How does the ruling class control their society? If they had a sword as a source of their power in the past, they now have luxury goods to increase their prestige in our society. Ostentatiousness. Something connected with having an influence upon other people. Look at how people born with a silver spoon in their mouths emulate those with a gold spoon, who are, in turn, imitated by those with a bronze spoon in their mouths. The situation is still alive and well. If a culture is created for the ruling class of a society, it is promptly emulated by those under their control. Let’s take a look at the so called ‘urban culture’ in this country, for example. What the youth of wealthy families in Gangnam learned from Western cultures, while they studied abroad in Paris and Berlin, fast spread across Gangnam, Cheongdam-dong, and Itaewon. This type of situation was already mentioned in economics one hundred years ago.

About Hong Gi-bin’s Book, Wigforss: Welfare State and Provisional Utopia. In the 1930s, the Swedish Social Democratic Cabinet and the Minister of Finance Wigforss achieved not only economic restoration, but an economic boom by implementing policies to aggressively control the business cycle. Those days, the whole world was suffering from the Great Depression. Wigforss refused to blindly rely on the ‘free market economy’ advocated by liberalism and, at the same time, disagreed with the doctrinaire Marxism. The plutonomic notion of ‘economic planning’ forged by Wigforss is closely related to his notion of ‘provisional utopia,’ and it suggests the possibility of an alternative frame that goes beyond both Marxism and liberalism as to the political movement, economic system, and policies.

About Hong Gi-bin’s Book, 『Wigforss: Welfare State and Provisional Utopia』. In the 1930s, the Swedish Social Democratic Cabinet and the Minister of Finance Wigforss achieved not only economic restoration, but an economic boom by implementing policies to aggressively control the business cycle. Those days, the whole world was suffering from the Great Depression. Wigforss refused to blindly rely on the ‘free market economy’ advocated by liberalism and, at the same time, disagreed with the doctrinaire Marxism. The plutonomic notion of ‘economic planning’ forged by Wigforss is closely related to his notion of ‘provisional utopia,’ and it suggests the possibility of an alternative frame that goes beyond both Marxism and liberalism as to the political movement, economic system, and policies.

As a researcher of alternative schools of thought, which are not non-mainstream economics, you must have been concerned about your participation in government-sponsored events focusing on administrative processes and measurement indices.

The rationality of equity accounting and the reformation in the entire society are not a problem or wrongdoing of a few people. You don’t need to consider the society that underwent the process of administration, quantification or, according to Max Weber, rationalization as a hell. It is only an illusion that there should be an area which is under no such influence. In 〈Mad Max〉, a movie I’ve watched recently, the protagonist escaped from a hell to a safe haven she knew, only to find that it no longer existed. She came back to the hell to destroy and reorganize it. One may consider the rationalized world as a hell, and try to find a utopia somewhere outside it. Would there be such a place around us? No. I would say that it is just an illusion. All we need now is an effort to make the place where we are now a better place through reformation. It is more meaningful to try to get better results from the condition in which we are put, than to maintain such self-contradictory attitudes under powerful propaganda.

Library packed with millions of Books

Library packed with millions of Books

What would you describe with/in art context?

I have no experience or knowledge that can impress others. Art is an area under the influence of the imagination and given a special right to be outside capitalism, but an artist is a person who needs to work for a living. The artistic activities and imagination of an artist are, however, free from such needs. Artists, writers, and scientists need to be given freedom to explore what is new within the scope of their imagination, but the reality is quite the opposite. That is why some artists tend to adhere themselves to the avant-garde movement. There are efforts to get out of the adherence, but the mythical structure of avant-garde continues. The problem is that there has been no change in the process during which the avant-garde develops into cliché of the bourgeoisie.

Now I am interested in the way of artistic expression adopted by U2, an Irish rock band of the 1980s. The group introduced a new style of rock music, which was uniquely different from the British rock music marked by the expression of explosive, even destructive, energy. The British rock music of the 1980s was represented by an eruption of energy, wild and destructive. Their music is also focused on despair and frustration of the people, but the way they express these is quite different.

Why do we need to destroy or deny reality? Do we need to imitate such a wild manner as that adopted by the mainstream to destroy and deny it? The way adopted by U2 has profound implications in various fields.

I believe that we need to reconsider the way art is treated from the ground up. I could not have seen art yet, but I should. I think that we need to pay attention to what has ‘Noch Nicht’ (‘not yet’ in German) come, although it should. This is what a visual artist needs to do because it can be a clue to the destination today’s art is headed.

I think it important to start with universal action, such as that taken by U2, without too much denial or exaggerated ego about the place where I stand. In other words, we need to start where we stand right now and settle the questions facing us in a manner unexaggerated and open to the world.

You may feel that my answer is rather long. It’s probably because I want to stress what is significantly different from the aristocratic attitudes or exaggerated resistance of the avant-garde artists who are full of elitism and prefer shouts made without discussions. They tend to idealize outside and detest inside, resulting in the creation of works which would become either a nonsensical propaganda or new fashion of the bourgeoisie. These are not the results of open communication, but an extreme form of obedience created by self-confidence, ostentatiousness, and resistance.

Ludovico Einaudi, 〈Elegy for the Arctic〉, video, 3m 13sec, 2016. ⓒ Pedro Armestre / Greenpeace In June 2016, Einaudi, an Italian composer and pianist, playing “Elegy for the Arctic” on his grand piano in front of an Arctic glacier.

Ludovico Einaudi, 〈Elegy for the Arctic〉, video, 3m 13sec, 2016. ⓒ Pedro Armestre / Greenpeace
In June 2016, Einaudi, an Italian composer and pianist, playing ‘Elegy for the Arctic’ on his grand piano in front of an Arctic glacier.

Then, is the concept of the keyword, ‘New Normal,’ from the latest Seoul Biennale, different from the utopian suggestions of the avant-garde movement? I came to be interested in the term because it was originally used for the explanation of a business model.

Let’s briefly think about numerous questions we have to face on a daily basis. Unemployment, childbirth, pension, marriage, housing, and other numerous tasks we have to cope with in our lives feature aspects clearly different from those some twenty years ago. There were things we needed to do as a matter of course which are, though, not needed to be done today. Perhaps only 20% of all people can afford such life style. High youth unemployment is not a problem anymore, but the situation in which all youth are jobless is that common it be. It is not a situation that can be changed by the choice of individuals. But for the policy makers in the government, it is a totally different story. They continue to shift their own responsibilities, which they feel unbearable, to the people.

New Normal. This term, ‘New Normal’ first appeared in the financial market after the global financial crisis of 2008, to refer to financial conditions caused by the crisis, and was used extensively in business magazines in connection with the drastic changes made in interest rates and the real estate market. It is also used for a comprehensive explanation of ‘the situation which needs our full attention,’ and applicable to a variety of issues of geoecology, privacy, and the life cycle of individuals. The pension system adopted by the German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, for example, was designed to pay benefit payments to recipients between 65 and about 70 years of age. In France, the severance package for railroad labor union members was rather generous, because many of the train drivers died early after their retirement largely due to tuberculosis. The pension scheme of this country, in which people can live to one hundred years old,

Kate Raworth

Kate Raworth, economist

Michel Bauwens

Michel Bauwens, economist

Kate Raworth

Yochai Benkler, economist
The lecture project under the umbrella theme of 〈The Evolution of Homo Economicus: The Advent of Anthropocene and Revival of Sharing Humans.〉 It will be comprised of forums over three times, each consisting of three sessions that will take place over two days and one night. Facing a consequential turning point, participants will discuss the key topics to discover an entirely different economic subject and principle from those of the past industrial era. To go more in depth, the seriousness of the ecological, natural, and social crises that have been brought about by growth-centered ideology will be dealt with, and the limits of Homo Economicus as the selfish being produced by the capitalistic industrial society will be assessed in order to seek the possibility of evolution into a renewed type of human that better fits the new physical conditions of the 21st century where the Fourth Industrial Revolution is taking place.

How could economic studies and discussions based on such questions take place at the Seoul Biennale?

It is not easy for anyone to explain what a good life is. The Seoul Biennale is there not to give a certain undeniable answer, but to provide a venue in which discussions are held. An agora (meeting place in Greek) will be created on the first floor of the Seoul Museum of Art, the main venue of the exhibition, to accommodate an audience of about one hundred people. You may find here a discussion meeting, performance, or a resting place. The discussions held in this particular agora deal with a great variety of subjects in great detail, including very trivial topics related with our daily lives, the food we eat, clothes we wear, and houses we live in.

For the discussion of economy, we invited three renowned scholars, Kate Raworth, Michel Bauwens, and Richard Wilkinson, to discuss their alternative views of some economic issues that interest us nowadays. Again, it is not any definite answer that we expect from them, but the process of finding it. Answers can be different depending on the conditions surrounding each individual, and therefore they should be found by those who need them. In the modernist world view, it is a question connected with the extinction of authors.

Authors in the past had some kind of authority among their readers, but in the 21st century such authority has all disappeared.Today, they have nothing new to show their readers. All that need to come have already come.There is nothing that can surprise us now. All that are seen can now deliver no message to those who see them.

The mission of art has once been the discovery of utopia, but today all those imaginable utopian worlds have already been disclosed. Now is the time to discuss what these utopias are. Plato argued, for instance, that one could reach it by believing a certain god, but his pupil, Aristotle, said no, you couldn’t. The latter believed that an ideal state of being could be reached, not through an already existing idea, but through the process of discussion. His idea is, I think, very persuasive, particularly in this era of author extinction.

Then, is the exhibition title, ‘Eu Zen,’ a symbolic statement? Considering that it originated from the Greek, and philosophical, the title sounds very rhetoric.

In Aristotle’s view, human desire is not limitless. If you want to talk about living well, the starting point should be that the desire of humankind has some limit. The question, “what is a good life?” may sound simple, but it can easily touch the listener’s heartstrings.
*Eu Zen means ‘live well’ in Greek, and has been translated to ‘good life.’

What is your opinion about ‘now’? Where are we now, and what should be the role of art to improve the condition of our society?

Your question seems to contain a supposition of comparative sociology. I don’t think that this country is so abnormal and unhealthy that it needs a special, drastic solution. The problems facing us are universal ones affecting the entire world. These are not problems unique to us. We Koreans seem to have a habit of saying, “this country, unlike other advanced countries,” when they talk about the problems that need to be tackled. Such expression implies that Korea is not normal, while other advanced countries are. Other developed countries such as the USA, Japan, Sweden, and other countries in Northern Europe may have useful and effective solutions to tackle various problems affecting them. But this does not necessarily mean that these countries are superior to Korea. Korea has a long history of reforming its societies for the better, as shown recently by the Candlelight Protest, which resulted in the change of its regimes in a legitimate, peaceful manner. That is why I consider the recent widespread use of the depreciatory term, Hell Joseon [i.e. hellish Korea], as a positive sign of Korean society. For me, saying dark to refer to something dark represents the utterer’s mental health. Think about the remarkable ‘compressed growth’ Korea achieved in many areas over the past half century and, further than that, we even beat Germany in the latest preliminary rounds for world cup. (Laugh)

You mentioned Korea’s positive factors as well as the problems affecting it. You also showed that you have a strong will to promote discussion. What would you say if someone claims that your viewpoints are nothing but the fantasy created from academic ideas?

Before I answer the question, I have to make it clear that my biggest wish for now and the future is the happiness and health of my family. I also hope that others will be as happy as I am now. If all my family members are healthy, that’s the best thing I hope to have and I believe that the happiness of many people is dependent upon the happiness of those closest to them. So, ‘living well’ is then a communal value, which is living together with people, loving each other.

In economics, however, the foundation of all establishments is individuals. Happiness, in the meantime, is connected with one’s family or loved ones. It is a value created by being together. A good life is being together. And you extend your happiness to your neighborhood, your relatives, and larger communities.

Why do we go and see Shakespeare’s plays? To write a dissertation and become a professor of English literature? There are, I think, many who enjoy Shakespeare’s plays with others, sharing the literary value with them because this is the happiness they quest after. The same goes for all who study at schools and those engaged in art. I’d like to talk about the pleasure we have at the moment of sharing what is valuable with others we love.

Considering that the value shared by all the members of a community connected organically through numerous contexts, you seem to stress the importance of the moment in which the members of this community as an economic unit can share the same artistic experiences with their fellow members. Am I right?

Yes, you are. I want to bridge stories that share the same values, although separated by the boundaries of economics and art.

You are an economist, but you decided to play the role of a producer of art-related discourses. Didn’t you have any apprehensions about it?

No. I thought I would give up if I couldn’t perform properly. I’ve never regarded myself as an art specialist and never wanted to be either acknowledged as one or achieve something within the art world. I decided that I would do my best where I could do better than others, only hoping that I would provide a venue for new stories to be told about values.

What do you want to say at the Biennale?

The concept I wanted to contribute to the event is well represented by the term, ‘Eu Zen.’ The crisis of art came with the development of photography. There had been no boundary between what is seen and what to see before the arrival of the camera. The world of truth formed through the artist’s imagination was depicted by his or her hands and displayed to the public, and it was difficult for ordinary viewers to effectively refute its truthfulness. For example, artists in medieval Europe depicted Jesus Christ and the Holy Mother as a white. They could do so no more after the invention of the camera. Now the artist has lost this magical power and authority for good. The fearful power the artists relished for such a long period was over.

The artists then changed their approaches and started to propose truths from wider viewpoints, proclaiming the arrival of the era of New Normal. They gave up the Platonic approach and began to give different answers to different questions discovered and raised through repeated discussion. The discussions on ‘Eu Zen’ also avoid the Platonic approach and try to provide numerous right answers for different situations. Anyone who visits the agora called Seoul Biennale will be able to make paintings of their own lives by depending on the viewpoint she or he has never had before. I hope that these artists and their viewers will be able to get over the static representation within White Cube and transfer the truths they found through a variety of new measures such as speeches, songs, lectures, and private chats.

Critical Art Ensemble and YoHa,〈Graveyard of Lost Species, Commission : Arts Catalyst ⓒCritical Art Ensemble

Critical Art Ensemble and YoHa,〈Graveyard of Lost Species〉, 2016. Commission : Arts Catalyst ⓒCritical Art Ensemble

Interview(2) : Collective Kim Nam-soo

“One More Question Raised after Numerous Troubles and Much Confusion”
Kim Nam-soo / Seoul Mediacity Biennale 2018 Collectives, Dance Critic
Started his career as a dance critic and entered the fine art scene as a researcher and planner. Worked as a researcher at Nam June Paik Art Center in 2008, a senior researcher at National Theater Company of Korea in 2011, and a leader of Asian Culture Archive Team and a dramaturge at Asia Culture Center.

What’s your view about the point where interdisciplinary arts and creation of dance meet the space of White Cube? Could you connect your answer with the works you have done?

I think that the conversation between spaces is more important than thinking about the space of White Cube itself. The choreographer William Forsythe proposed the concept of Synchronous Objects for the choreography, where air circulates and intersects between two spaces, and I’ve received strong influence from him. The performance exhibitions, 《Open Dance: Running Wolves》, held at Nam June Paik Art Center in 2010, and 《The Whales – Time Diver》 performed by the National Theater of Korea in 2011, for instance, were aimed, I believe, to create a gap between two spaces and a new space from it rather than to perform spatial transformation or experimentation at White Cube or Black Box.
In this biennale, we are guided to the concept of a special space called agora introduced by the economist Hong Gi-bin. Agora is a space between White Cube and daily lives, and between an open public space especially for public language and a secret room (i.e. house) especially for private language. The White Cube is a bio-clean space that can become a space-related strategy, but will change itself into the agora where ideas are newly formed, actively exchanged, and fermented. The goal of this biennale is to provide a space for the conversations which are ‘private and, at the same time, public’ and which ‘cannot be public without being private.’

It must be pointed out that there has always been around us a question about how a human body will react when a source of vitality is put into it. In his novel, 『Operation (Saengmyeong yeonseup)』, Kim Seungok tries to show how the two main characters, the narrator’s mother and elder brother, eventually win a battle with their small house by becoming defeated or, on the contrary, they give over to it despite the formal victory. The small house means a small space although it can increase its size somehow. The agora in this biennale can also become considerably larger than originally expected. If then, how can the narrow space and the small body lead the discourse and provide the sources for new, creative discourses?

When I was in the National Theater, I tried to understand the performances held on the stage open in all directions with the concept of the traditional ‘madang’ performances. The term, ‘madang,’ gives us an answer which is too clear to refute so that it is difficult to feel the characteristic features and density of the space. I wondered about what it meant for an artist, who is not a dancer, to perform dance within a restricted space if it happens outside the space such as White Cube or Black Box. For example, how would you handle the vertical momentum under the influence of the perplexing multi-layered space created during the process of leaving traces of the performance that lasts for a whole day before being put to an archive? I struggled for a time for such kind of representation.

Will your way of representation be materialized in this biennale?

《Seoul Media City Biennale》 is a huge art event and, considering its mega size, I don’t think we can treat it only from the functional relationship between performances and visual arts. I think the event needs to focus on the primeval, fundamental questions such as those related with the boundary between society and non-society, arts and non-arts, household goods and livelihood that supported human lives before the creation of art.
The space housing the artistic exhibitions for this biennale will turn the White Cube into an agora which will, in connection with representation, develop into a more specific space where people converse with each other rather than watch visual objects. More specifically, in the exhibition hall there is a space prepared to become an agora, and for that space to be operated properly we need a space such as that called Khora mentioned by Plato. According to Plato’s account, Khora is a space which creates all things in the universe, while undergoing no change. It is through the operation of the agora that citizens involve themselves in the artwork exhibited during the biennale.
I believe that the meaning of this biennale is better represented by this space called agora which was designed by Jo Jae-won. I hope that the space will continue to expand itself to house more exhibitions and artistic activities, contributing to the birth of more little agoras.

Is the agora also connected with ‘New Normal,’ a key term representing this biennale?

Our humble expectation is that this biennale will grow into a commons, a space shared by all the members of a community, and step over the threshold of numerous boundaries to discern and effectuate the social functions of art. One may argue that our expectation is too grand to be materialized, but we cannot give up our vision to have such an ideal state. For some, it may be an antithesis formed by the awareness of the problems found regarding the operation of art of our time.
The challenges we have faced recently in the 20th century and are expected to c ome in the 21st century, such as the economic collapse caused by the 1997 Asian financial crisis and its aftermath, the significant humanimpacton climate change represented by thee poch called Anthropocene, and the possible catastrophe on humanity caused by the development of artificialintelligence, are too powerful and decisive for the avant-garde art of the 20th century and its descendants that either advocated or refuted their ancestoras they grew to stand firmly against the challenges. According to some scholars such as Bruno Latour, a French philosopher, we need to fight against the drastic changes and catastrophes by maintaining more direct attitudes in our ideas, art, and practices. I couldn’t agree more.
I believe that it is high time for us to get together in a comfortable space such as the agora where we can exchange ideas on the issues facing us in a free and relaxed manner. Can we as artists do our due part in the effort to find solutions to these imminent catastrophes just by depending on conventional means? Considering the situation around us now, it will never be easy for individual artists to approach these complex, massive issues, not to mention the solutions. If we can keep democracy going, however, we can get together at the agora and talk about anything that interests us, and then our conversations, whether they are the meaningless babble of babies, or nonsensical words of daydreamers, will represent the power of general will, contributing to the creation of a space where non-art becomes art. This would not be possible by the effort of a single subgroup. We need, I think, to involve every group and gather and sort out all our ideas before establishing systematic preparations and putting them into practice in an effective manner.

What activities would be brought to the category of the New Normal of the Seoul Media City Biennale, considering the fulfillment of its goal?

Everything is OK, easy, casual talk, gossip, serious discussions, absurd conversations, or anything, as I said earlier, any private or public talks exchanged as if for the 『Saengmyeong yeonseup』 (literally exercise of life),” practical and direct conversations, and so on. All these talks, I often think, can lead to inductive reasoning of statements. Anyone can easily understand if one says, “I will say something as a formal resistance, because I have directly experienced a situation and now know what it is.” What we want from the operation of the agora is the communication to break through the discrepancy between the statements distributed and sympathized widely, that is, expressions of one’s own experience in a social statement, and the perception based on common sense that public and private affairs should be separated.
Considering the present condition from the viewpoint of art and communication, art is ‘too excessive.’ It seems that the discourse about public art has already become a subcontracted subcontract, too tightly connected with the establishments. It is now clear that the current situation surrounding public art does not operate properly for the fulfillment of the original goal of public art. That is why I argue that we need to return to the days when art was created for both private and public purposes.

There are some who criticize that works of art today tend to be so abstract and unrealistic that they fail to reflect society, then your biennale would be just a league of their own. How would you respond to that?

The biennale cannot give any answer to questions about the feasibility of survival by depending on the government welfare system alone, as shown by the campaign promises during the last presidential election, questions on how to provide household items required for basic necessities and establishments of art administration. It can, however, provide a venue in which people focus their attention on the condition of their lives and the choices to be made, although the number of candidates is gravely limited. You may have a state council here on the inflection point of human lives. That is why I hope this biennale will provide artists and their viewers with an opportunity to think about the reflection point of each participant. I also hope that art will be able to provide a new model of adventure for a society which quests after stability while refuting adventure and where we can maintain a more resilient and flexible stance to effectively cope with society where disasters compete against each other.

Treasure island Collective (Dongchan Kim, Seonghong Min, Mingyu Song, Jinyo Choi, Seokjun HA, Gyunghyun Hwang, In order from left to rignt)

Treasure island Collective (Dongchan Kim, Seonghong Min, Mingyu Song, Jinyo Choi, Seokjun HA, Gyunghyun Hwang, In order from left to rignt)

Treasure island Collective, Exhibition scene in the process of creation. 2016. Gyeonggi Creation Center ⓒArtists

Treasure island Collective, Exhibition scene in the process of creation. 2016. Gyeonggi Creation Center ⓒArtists

The collective system of this biennale looks like the agora in a reduced form. I wonder what difference the decision making structure of the collective would bring to the result of the biennale.

The Collective starts with respecting differences. We need to accept the key words, ‘agora,’ ‘good life,’ ‘Noch Nicht,’ and ‘New Normal’ together with the characteristics of the Collective. As a sunflower always faces the sun, it receives a variety of ideas in the manner of focusing on the wick at the center from many different angles.
What is important is to convert the hierarchy of vertical structure, with a single ruler at the top, into a system where horizontal conversations, different views, eccentrics, abnormality, and absurdity are readily accepted. The ‘Treasure Island’ project proposed by some of the biennale participants, for example, shows an interesting example of collective activities. The deep mutual understanding and conflicting artistic energy of the six artists as well as the fierce, liquidly treatment of the narrative in the project make a strong impression on the viewers. I feel that these artists give a good lesson to the Collective of this biennale. Their works have always been full of new, interesting elements that inspire their fellow artists and viewers, and I believe that this project will do the same.

I heard that you are currently working on the project, Standard in Motion, choreographed by Kyung Ae Ro.

They say that YouTube is the number one search engine among today’s young generation. The website provides information with streaming video services, and their way of consuming information is quite different. It is in the changed manner of receiving information and its relationship with the human body that Ro’s choreography is interested. The title of the project refers to the changed standard, that is, the New Normal, of which the appearance scatters other old standards, making them go into hiding. The statement, “It’s the choreography, stupid,” is still a golden rule in Korean dance communities but, unfortunately, it has never been from its position of an objectified mechanism in the history of dance which has been too dependent on the dancer’s body and physical movement. The choreography by Kyung Ae Ro appears to be using the mechanism as a platform, sometimes refuting, while other times accepting it, by depending on the New Normal. I believe that her conceptual choreography will not remain only a breaker of the context of performing arts, but directly handle the dilemma of the young generation.

Yeon Ock Ko and the ‘theater company Jat’ seem to have been interested in making political statements and raising various issues in the community of performing arts.

As a playwright, Yeon Ock Ko has produced several controversial works such as 〈Underground Dwellers〉, 〈Guest Is Coming〉, 〈Senses of My Wife〉, and 〈Guests〉. As for her latest work, she will make statements about women who bravely stepped forward to raise questions about structural problems prevailing in the Korean theater communities, such as those who led the “Me Too” movement. These women exposed the big evil dominating the Korean theater communities, the pyramidal, vertical structure that leaves women defenseless, and insist that it should be removed. I think no one can deny that the theatrical circles in Korea have been male-dominated and that their works have also been greatly affected by the trends adopted and controlled by mainstream theater. There have been numerous fringe efforts to challenge the orthodox with heretical works but, sadly, all those heterodox movements were destined to succumb to the established authority.
Yeon Ock Ko will present her new works made under the premise that ‘Theater is Women.’ These may not be well structured to nicely fit into the conventional way of consuming art. Her works were conceived with the latest movements casting doubt on, and challenging, established systems, such as the “Me Too” movement. As a collective, I am fully open to her works.

Dancing Waist, 2017. Regular performance act 3 “Am I an artist” ⓒDancing Waist. A revised version of “Turtle Radio,” a play that illuminates the discriminations and conflicts experienced by disabled women in daily life.

Dancing Waist, 2017. Regular performance act 3 〈Am I an artist〉 ⓒDancing Waist. A revised version of 〈Turtle Radio〉, a play that illuminates the discriminations and conflicts experienced by disabled women in daily life.

As a collective, what’s your own view about the title of the biennale, Eu Zen?

Shall I need to choose a boring, though peaceful, life, or an exciting life, full of troubles? That’s the crossroads I now stand at and I feel it hard to choose one. Money matters to everyone, of course. Meanwhile, art causes social conflicts or plays the role of an enzyme to cure them. For me, art encourages discord in our society, and thereby allows people to enjoy an opportunity to think hard about the environment they are put in. I’d say that art in this way is suffering from hyperactivity.

As a collective who designs the agora, what would you say to those who want to hear your key ideas about it?

Some time ago, I happened to launch a project titled 〈Antlers Library〉 which I wanted to be ‘a library giving birth to libraries’ or ‘the library that supports thinking.’ The project was conceived from the passage, “You should change the first day of summer if you want to change time” (Barbara Blair). Yes, you should change time, the first day of summer in particular. As an effort to expand the meaning of the poetic passage – ‘Not read’ – I used many, many books to fill the bookshelves of my library. For me, it was an act of categorizing and expanding the thoughts in people’s head. Now I feel that this collective activity is similar to the library project. Each collective is a library.
I believe that thinking is choreographing. In the ancient Chinese characters incised on oracle bones, the character meaning ‘dance’ also meant ‘emptiness’. The act of choreographing thoughts is making them empty so that they cannot be owned by anyone and that they are categorized and expanded. A thought is nobody’s possession. It will be the asset of the public when expanded and categorized fully. That is why I believe that this biennale, while it is an event organized and sponsored by government agencies, can become a starting point. There will be many exciting discussion sessions held during the biennale in which numerous uninformed questions will be raised to have answers which need to be mature. I will readily participate in discussions to ask questions regarding countless stories interwoven together like a net.

Eun Jung Park / The Artro Editor

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