13th Gwangju Biennale — Minds Rising Spirits Tuning

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Minds Rising

This bilingual online journal is intended to serve as an ensemble of our research process, featuring interdisciplinary content and artistic ideas. Performing as the “extended mind” of the 13th edition of the Gwangju Biennale and published on a bi-monthly basis, it has a tripartite focus: artistic/literary, scholarly, and theoretical; and includes features such as long-read essays, poetry, sonic features and video space for participant contributions, as well as time-based and live programming, laying the intellectual and artistic groundwork from which the Biennale unfolds.

The upcoming issues includes: online gaming culture and gender paradigm; plural cosmologies and geopoetics of Eurasia; queer life trajectory embedded in indigenous shamanistic culture; fetishized “smart” technology in daily life in North Korea; tragic historical trauma embedded in female bodies through Jeju and Gwangju uprisings in South Korea; connections between Buddhism and networked technology; the role of South Korean shamanism in healing societal trauma; and solidarity movements and planetary struggles after 1980 as a way to explore the renewed global significance of the Gwangju Uprising, forty years on this month of May.

The online platform is designed by Studio Remco van Bladel and Studio RGB, with Managing Editor Young-jun Tak.

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Bimonthly No. 1

With our first issue, we commence with artist and poet Cecilia Vicuña’s “Rain Dreamed by Sound reading Theresa Hak Kyung Cha” composed in the vein of mourning, self-exile and recovery: The place where “the tongue that is forbidden is your own mother tongue.”

Artist Outi Pieski and archeologist Eeva-Kristiina Harlin address the activation of re-matriation processes through traditional Sámi craftsmanship, reempowered Sámi goddesses, embodied practices, and communal forms of making. Technology researcher and writer Maya Indira Ganesh’s foray speaks to feminist takes on cyborgs and bots while building a larger conversation on how machine learning is reshaping the virtuality of desire, body image, and commits to making “wiggle room” away from tech bro culture. Researcher Dr. Ko Bo-hye’s latest study on Gwangju local women’s lives in Korea excavates scarce historical records of feminist struggles at the patriachal ancient time, and spotlights women’s crucial roles in modernization, independence, and democracization of the country, which have been overshadowed by Seoul-oriented feminism as well as heteronormative narrative in history.


Between Flesh: Tech Degrees of Separation

By Maya Indira Ganesh


Ládjogahpir Rematriated: Sámi Women and the Influence of Colonialism

By Eeva-Kristiina Harlin and Čiske-Jovsset Biret Hánsa Outi/Outi Pieski



By Ana Prvački

Bimonthly No. 2

With our second issue, we ask:

How does the logic of settler colonialism manifest in new forms of police surveillance? How can re-strengthened ancestral ties counter its toxicity? In epistolary form, Elizabeth Povinelli writes on the inventive strategies of aboriginal dissent and the notion of the gift. / What does Daoist classic Zhuangzi have to say about our “constant reworlding with the world”? Mi You considers how the many forgotten Eurasian stories about our connection to the Earth figure the ethics of moving as a geospatial and cosmic pursuit. / What about gender metamorphosis among the indigenous communities of the Russian Far East? Iaroslav Volovod and Valentin Diaconov write on queer forms of sexual and biopolitical creativity and the female spirits who frequently bested their creators. / Are there hierarchies of and within suffering? Who deserves remembrance and commemoration? How are women included in the heroic narrative of uprisings? Kyeong-Un Jeong revisits the symbolism of the “rice balls” that women in Gwangju prepared to support the city’s front-line demonstrators and also Jeju islanders’ shared grief.

Bimonthly No. 3

For the third issue, our bimonthly dispatch on the 13th Gwangju Biennale’s curatorial threads, we are joined by artists, a scientist, and a poet: 

How did archiving culture and converting film to DNA become an obsession of renowned geneticist and molecular engineer Dr. George Church? Artist Lynn Hershman Leeson finds out about the evolving borders of life here. / Where do museum practices intersect with the afterlife and ritual passage of the dead? Beyond formal debates on conservation and restitution, artist Gala Porras-Kim seeks answers while developing unique modes of material inquiry including legal, communal, and spiritual ones. / Inviting molecular communication through olfactory sensing, can South Korean film director Bong Joon-Ho, who put smell at the heart of his acclaimed thriller on class divide, Parasite (2019), answer questions introduced by smell researcher, artist, and provocateur Sissel Tolaas? / How may verse challenge gender norms and practice feminist traditions of the grotesque as suffering and death become a common condition for our times? South Korean poet Kim Hyesoon said in an interview with Guernica, “I felt that something like poems were filling up my body.” Her words address us from the gut and embrace contours of wildness.


Sculpting Borders of Life and R/evolution

By Lynn Hershman Leeson


On the Afterlife and Happiness of Objects

By Gala Porras-Kim


Arousing Smell Across Class Divides

By Sissel Tolaas


Asphyxiation / Heart’s Exile

By Kim Hyesoon

Bimonthly No. 4

In our fourth bi-montly issue of Minds Rising:

In the interview, philosopher Catherine Malabou and Artistic Directors Defne Ayas and Natasha Ginwala speculate on “remembrance of the ancestral biological past,” the need for expanding the field of epigenetics, and the art of imagining new forms and understandings of intelligence today, while invoking anarchist ancestors such as Emma Goldman. / S. Heijin Lee takes on Korea’s formidable digital feminist campaign #EscapeTheCorset, in which she meticulously decodes the entrenched patriarchal and racial stereotypes that inform “lookism,” the militarized history of cosmetic surgery, and the K-beauty industry in the country. /Artist and writer Travis Jeppesen, whose recent travels and writing have culminated in See You Again in Pyongyang: Art, Ideology, and Everyday Life in North Korea, ponders the improbable channelings and openings in paranoia through technological devices. / Philosopher Yuk Hui explains how, at a time when we all need to imagine a new world history, it can all be traced back to a recursive movement that maintains the continuity between a set of oppositional pairs.