13th Gwangju Biennale — Minds Rising Spirits Tuning

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Gallery 2


Kinship of Mountains, Fields and Rivers

Modes of kinship figure not only between humans but also with the beyond human world(s), as in this gallery we converge amidst transforming ecologies from mountainous terrain to river currents and with communal practices from the Korean peninsula to Sápmi and Aotearoa (New Zealand). Works in this gallery actively draw from the visual culture of Korea beyond the field of contemporary art, and focusing on oral cultures, rural cosmologies, and forms of labor in agrarian life to lay the groundwork for intelligences of the “communal mind” to continually emerge. Seyni Camara’s looming ancestors with multiple heads and arms draw strength and refuge from Senegalese soil, the Casamance River, and its  surrounding forests. In the Trapunto tapestries of Pacita Abad, we experience the material inheritances of a worldly traveler, from the richly textured doorways of villages and souks in Yemen, to the monumental cloth banner 100 years of freedom: Batanes to Jolo (1998), a celebration of Philippine independence. The late Haitian painter Gerard Fortuné brings to life the syncretism of Vodou deities known as loa and Afro-Haitian rituals as a form of social commentary. We travel through sonic registers and shamanic figurations of the lower, middle, and upper worlds with Yin-Ju Chen and Lin Li-Chun (Marina) and land in Fernando Palma Rodríguez’s kinetic field of butterflies as intermediaries between the sky and the earth  that channel the Nahua worldview. Secular storytelling about the multiple and anti-colonial relationalities fostered in Javanese lives surfaces in Jumaadi’s cloth paintings as lingering ghosts, animals, migrants, and dissidents that each claim a ground. Outi Pieski and Eeva-Kristiina Harlin share from their long-term engagement with matrilineal traditions and female divinity in Sámi societies. Gwangju-based artist Hyun-taek Cho carries us into panoramic scenes of stone icons at rest by night time, examining the role of sacred emblems, belief systems, and commercialization. Sangdon Kim’s procession of icons mobilizes elements from Korean shamanism, contemporary politics, and circuits of hyper consumption. Arpita Singh’s paintings conflate the politics and poetics of everyday life through visual fables of female bodies and intimate social relations, powerfully tracing the fragility of the human condition. These concerns resonate in works by Sonia Gomes that unravel Afro-Brazilian spirituality through found and discarded material assemblages. Shannon Te Ao’s film resounds with the sonic grains of Māori songs and whakataukī (proverbs) expanding outward into the oceanic horizon. In Aotearoa (New Zealand) there exists a belief challenging the linear currents of time: when one walks into the future, they walk into it backwards staring at the past; ka mua, ka muri. PARI – People’s Archive of Rural India accrues oral cultures and poesies of rural women who convene around the grind mill, unveiling lessons on seasonal changes, women’s labour, caste politics, familial relationships, and festivities. An encounter with Farid Belkahia’s visionary oeuvre brings insight into the visual lexicon he developed from traditions of Morocco’s pre-colonial past, from Neolithic painting, Tifinagh script, Sufi mysticism, Berber patterns, and tattoos to the Amazigh culture of indigenous peoples of North Africa. Bad Fiji Gyals (Quishile Charan with Esha Pillay) mobilize ancestral craft practices to produce a series of applique, natural-dyed, and embroidered banners commemorating women’s lives and the resistance of Fiji’s Girmit community. Piecing together poetry and mythologies from nomadic traditions, Tuguldur Yondonjamts’s installation ventures into mystical readings of Mongolian landscapes and cultural legacy. This ensemble attunes to intelligences buried in the Earth’s skins, the dance of atmospheric particles in which the voice transmits its message, and the incessant memory of flowing water.