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6 September - 18 November 2018
Title: Eu Zen (Living well)
Nam Soo Kim, Jang Un Kim, Kyung Yong Lim, Gibin Hong
Celebrating its 10th edition this year, Seoul Mediacity Biennale (originally known as SeMA Biennale Mediacity Seoul) will be held for 74 days from September 6 to November, 18, 2018. Hosted by the Seoul Metropolitan Government and organized by SeMA, Seoul Mediacity Biennale is the major art event in Seoul, with a focus on various forms of art that reflect the city’s regional characteristics and expand the concept of media. In this year’s Biennale, SeMA is shifting its structure from the appointed directorhip on each edition to a collective curatorship in collaboration with the museum's curatorial department.
As experts from diverse fields of arts and science in Korea, Nam Soo Kim, Dance Critic, Jang Un Kim, Independent Curator, Kyung Yong Lim, Director of The Book Society, and Gibin Hong, Director of Global Political Economy Institute, are invited to create an art biennale that is a multiple intellectual platform, and that rebrands itself as a cultural destination. The Seoul Mediacity Biennale Collective was established to promote an active collaboration among researchers and planners of various fields, and thereby share their expertise and expand their network. By promoting exchanges and communication among various fields including art, economics, environment, politics, and social science, the event aims to open up new opportunities for change within the society and increase public access to art and culture.
With this structure, the Biennale strives to address a fundamental question: What new values must humanity foster amid the anxiety and uncertainty that pervade today’s society? The event also strives to determine the social role and function of art not as an exclusive property of a specific minority, but as a medium for communication based on the exchanges and the consilience of contemporary art. Accordingly, Seoul Mediacity Biennale aims to re-interpret contemporary life through multidisciplinary collaboration and identify creative and future-oriented alternative values presented by various individuals and groups, with regard to the theme, “Eu Zen (Living Well)."
From the very beginning until its 10th edition, the Seoul Mediacity Biennale has focused on creative relationship-building between media and art. While this relationship building remained a consistent theme throughout, changes that were by no means insignificant were wrought upon the exhibition concepts depending on the weight of these relationships. While the focus was accompanied by the larger trend of media art in the early- and mid-stages of the Biennale, more recently the emphasis has been on feeling out the fundamental possibilities of the medium itself.
This is the reason why, in this year’s Biennale, the significance of the medium itself will once again be explored under the ethos and concept “Eu Zen” —a term from Greek philosophy meaning living well— with the installation of a space and production of programs, Agora, within the exhibition gallery of the Seoul Museum of Art (SeMA). This space will host lectures, conversations, discussions, and performances that will bring together the mythos, pathos, and logos of “Eu Zen.” Learning to live well —to learn well, act well, and play well— will be the thrust of Agora, where the meaning of the medium will be brought to reality.
While medium as a concept was featured previously in the 2014 Biennale as its third definition, the “psychic and shaman medium” that connects us to the other worlds, this Biennale edition will imagine the medium in the first meaning of the word, i.e., the empty space between several worlds. In this empty space, law and order are laid down according to the authority of the space itself that existed before any action or intervention by humans. Agora will contain the principles of this law and order and will function as an empty space where we can learn to live well. While this represents a rather substantial leap from the typical meaning of media art, the aim here is to rein in the concept of medium to a familiar and (in fact) refreshing territory, in keeping with the spirit of “being mindful of where you’re standing in.”
Images from left to right: Monoskop (Dušan Barok), Exhibition Library, 2018. Dance Performance. Treasure Island Collective, Nyet! Nyet! Nyet! , 2018. Women with Disabilities Empathy, Disable Women's Theatre Group. Namwoo Bae, FUTURE SHOP, 2018. Greenpeace East Asia Seoul Office
© Courtesy Seoul Mediacity Biennale
From press information.
Rotating cover images: Seoul Mediacity Biennale Poster. Sey Min, A.I, entirely on us, 2018. Catalogue image. © Courtesy Seoul Mediacity Biennale