How Do You Stage a Global Art Show Now? In South Korea, Curators Press On.

How Do You Stage a Global Art Show Now? In South Korea, Curators Press On.

How Do You Stage a Global Art Show Now? In South Korea, Curators Press On.

How Do You Stage a Global Art Show Now? In South Korea, Curators Press On.

The New York-based artist Cecilia Vicuña had intended to perform in Gwangju, the latest milestone in a meteoric late-career rise. But the Chilean-born artist, 73, opted to stay home. “Now I hardly even go uptown or anywhere,” she said from TriBeCa.

Vicuña was glad to be working, though. She wrote a poem honoring the Korean-American writer Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, who was raped and murdered in New York in 1982, and recorded it with the composer Ricardo Gallo. It will be played in a park outside the Gwangju National Museum. She also sent charismatic paintings of revolutionaries and thinkers like Camilo Torres Restrepo (1929-1966), the Colombian Roman Catholic priest and guerrilla fighter.

Other artists embraced virtual formats. Working in Los Angeles, the Lithuanian performer Kira Nova recorded playful videos that offer a creation story, starring herself as a kind of maniacal, freethinking aerobics instructor. They live on the biennial’s website, where the artistic directors have also been posting myriad discussions. “A state of mind of the idiot is what I am proposing for these days, as a solution,” Nova said of her unconventional philosophy.

Scattered around the world, the artists of “Minds Rising, Spirits Tuning” may never actually get to meet, but in Gwangju their work has formed a layered, and action-packed, show. As it was nearing completion, artists and organizers convened in a snaking line for the big dance that Ayas had mentioned. The procession moved, percussionists loudly sounding their instruments, children in uniforms swaying their arms and EightOS dancers maneuvering around them. Videographers swooped about, capturing it all.

After a break, about 20 people involved in the show assembled on pillows for a tea ceremony presided over by Kwan, the Buddhist nun, in the cavernous, silent exhibition hall. She said that she wanted those listening to be able to relax after their work and difficulties.

Through a translator, Kwan said she hoped her audience would think about “How am I going to live in the future?” That could be a motto for this hard-won biennial, which is now awaiting viewers who might be grappling with just that question.


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