13th Gwangju Biennale — Minds Rising Spirits Tuning

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Live Organ

Live Organ is an active element of the 13th Gwangju Biennale that explores the set of questions at the heart of the exhibition and includes a series of public forums alongside a program of newly commissioned live works. Through a variety of media and dialogues, Minds Rising, Spirits Tuning will share contemporary positions of particular relevance to the fortieth anniversary of the May 18 Democratic Uprising. Regarding this historic anniversary, artistic directors Defne Ayas and Natasha Ginwala add: “In marking the legacy of the Gwangju Uprising, we are committed to engaging with the lineage of these traumatic events and the role of communal participation in the democratization movement. We observe the uprising’s significance not only by revisiting past chronicles but also by striving to recognize similar citizen movements that have taken place since 1980 and reflecting upon current, ongoing struggles in so many parts of the world—from Turkey, Hong Kong, and Brazil to India, Tibet, Chile, and Lebanon. The Gwangju Uprising holds global significance, and therefore we see it as a prism to understand some of the urgent questions that solidarity movements ask today.”

Online Commissions

Conceived exclusively for online audiences, works by Ana Prvački, Kira Nova, and nasa4nasa are presented in the form of episodes and web series on the Biennale’s social media channels and streamed on its website. These artists explore hybrid forms of individual and collective expression, protocols of intimacy, and codes of spontaneity, centering relationships among bodies transiting between the spiritual, the physical, and the virtual, beyond the grip of pandemic-induced alienation and social distancing.

Kira Nova’s series encourages viewers to access their extraordinary potential, whether through butoh techniques, cellular memories of animal, plant, or insect pasts, or other improvisations that embrace our limbs’ intelligence. nasa4nasa experiments with bodily practices of synchronicity, collaboration, symbiosis, and communal intelligence that interacts with and sometimes interrupts virtual mass consumption. Addressing topics that have come to define contemporary culture in Korea and beyond, ranging from environmental matters to movement and meditation exercises, Ana Prvacki’s videos attempt the subversion of social anxiety through the comedic potential of faux pas.

Kira Nova, “Practical Guide to Becoming the Idiot (day 2),” 2021. Video, sound, 1:29 min. Commissioned by the 13th Gwangju Biennale with the support of Alcantara.

Online Commissions


By Ana Prvački

Online Commissions

Energetic Tickle

By Ana Prvački

Online Commissions

The Splash Zone

By Ana Prvački

Online Commissions

Practical Guide to Becoming the Idiot (day 1)

By Kira Nova

Augmented Minds and the Incomputable

“Augmented Minds and the Incomputable” interweaves the exhibition’s generative topics, examining the spectrum of the extended mind and challenging the structural divisions imposed upon corporeal, technological, and spiritual intelligence. This program invites philosophers, system thinkers, and researchers to discuss shamanism, cosmotechnics, neuroscience, and digital labor in relation with Korea’s visual cultures and communal trauma. The three sessions explore non-hierarchical approaches to replenish the body-mind during this time of massive suffering and mobilize plural and coeval conditions of being and belonging.

The Procession: Through the Gates

The Biennale Hall hosts an adaptive program of initiations that tests the boundaries of resilience and resistance. Composed of live commissions and exhibited works, this organic procession inverts notions of the living and the dead, the live and the inanimate, “awakening” the works on view and rendering the exhibition a ceremonial ground where the communal mind plays a revitalizing role.

Rising to the Surface

Rising to the Surface: Practicing Solidarity Futures examines the tidal currents of people’s movements, the recurring spectre of oppressive regimes, and the inventive tools of current citizen protests. This forum brings together scholars, artists, activists, and civil society actors from around the world to address grassroots struggles in a discussion of shared vocabularies on strategies of public dissent, civic advocacy, healing public trauma, indigenous solidarity, and environmental activism. Online sessions focus on algorithmic violence and digital surveillance; struggles to protect land and waters from extractive infrastructures; and the feminist legacy of democratization movements from the 1980s onward.

Haaweatea Holy Bryson, ‘Rites of Passage and Renewal’

Artist Research Visits

Minds Rising, Spirits Tuning intends to consider critically questions of scale, sustainability, and value intimacy to ensure that the conversations and shared learning generated by the collective labor of biennale production can be accessed by wider audiences. Several of the artists and team members conducting site visits and research in Gwangju and nearby Jeju experienced recent political upheaval and people’s movements in their own regions. The site visits in Gwangju included meetings at the 5.18 Archive, May Mothers House, and Gwangju Trauma Centre, among others. While artistic works will not directly connect with these sites, it is important to us that the research process includes the experience of crucial local sites of mourning, dissent, care, and recovery.