Busan Biennale 2018 unveils theme and title, ‘Divided We Stand’
Busan Biennale 2018
• Theme: Divided We stand
• Period: September 8 – November 11, 2018
• Venue: Museum of Contemporary Art Busan, The former Bank of Korea, Busan
• Artistic Director: Cristina Ricupero
• Curator: Jörg Heiser
The Busan Biennale Organizing Committee headed by executive director Choi Tae Man has announced the title for the Busan Biennale 2018 – Divided We Stand. The selection process for the Busan Biennale adopted a different format this time with an open recruitment approach designed to identify curators capable of offering new discourses in contemporary art and selected Cristina Ricupero and Jörg Heiser. In January this year, they have been named artistic director and curator respectively, planning the upcoming Biennale taking place from 8 September to 11 November.
The title of the exhibition, ‘Divided we stand’, reflects the Biennale’s theme, bringing together work by around 60 artists responding to the question of split territories around the globe. What kind of sentiments and conditionings does the splitting of territories induce in people’s minds in general, and artistic minds specifically? Vice versa, what kinds of mindsets induce the splitting in the first place? However, the focus of the exhibition is not just on the documentary or fictional response artists have made to them. Crucially it looks at how souls are inspired, or haunted, by these political divisions. Even in a supposedly post-Cold-War era, it’s hard to ignore the belligerent mood, instigating a whole new level of social and psychological division in many societies, fueled by populist politicians and social media outrage.
The title of the Busan Biennale 2018, ‘Divided We Stand,’ is obviously not offering unconditional optimism or romantic expectations for the future. Yet it’s not apocalyptic either, but an expression of the determination to face reality and to look at the blind spots that territorial divisions have produced. The concise thematic focus of this Biennale bringing together works by around 60 artists also not least is a proposal by Ricupero and Heiser to abandon the megalomania of too many venues, artists and sub-themes that has become the hallmark of many large-scale exhibitions in recent years.
Two Venues: Cold War and its aftermath, and Science Fiction
Museum of Contemporary Art Busan(L), former Bank of Korea in Busan(R)
Unlike the previous editions for which the Busan Museum of Art in city’s district of Haeundae served as the main venue, the upcoming Biennale will host its exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Busan, located on the island of Eulsukdo, which was designed and built as the main venue for the Biennale and is scheduled to open this June. The former Bank of Korea, Busan, is the second venue; the building was completed in 1963 and is known for its austerely modernist design. The city of Busan has designated it a cultural heritage site in 2013.
The two venues will reflect two main aspects of the Biennale’s theme: while at the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Cold War era and its uncanny return in the present is the main focus, at the Bank of Korea, alternate futurist scenarios will unfold, looking at our current state of being through the lense of Science Fiction.
The Busan Biennale is an international contemporary art exhibition held in even-numbered years. Its previous incarnation is the Busan Youth Biennale, which first emerged as a self-organized event by young artists in Busan-area in 1981.