11th Gwangju Biennale
2. 9. – 6. 11. 2016


Introduction by Maria Lind

An image showing the top part of a champagne glass filled with petrol cast against a black background catches my attention. The liquid glistens in blue, yellow, and pink, almost like the famous photos of the Earth taken from space. As one of the substances of our planet, oil is assumed to follow its physical laws, but the image says otherwise. The horizon of the oil is tilted, creating an upward slope read from the left, or a downward hill read from the right. Not only is a new geography emerging, but laws of physics different from the ones we know.

When I set eyes on this seductive image on the computer in Agnieszka Polska’s Berlin studio during my GB11 research it becomes a condensed picture of a condition, a condition in which many things are askew. Looking at Tellus from a distance—however beautiful—reveals climate change on macro levels, with the use of fossil fuels propelling the process. At the same time, it shows that the micro level of individual life as it is played out in dominant oil-dependent lifestyles across the world demands change. The champagne glasses are still prominent, and yet they are being challenged, together with our addiction to oil.

Printed on fabric and hanging high in the entrance area of the Gwangju Biennale Hall’s Gallery 1, Polska’s champagne glass points also to today’s image regime, in which images are created, circulated, proliferated, and sourced digitally and online—through the art world and far beyond. Within this regime, relevant art works maintain an active relationship to their surrounding reality, whether associatively, analytically, critically, personally or poetically so. To engage with such art works, and to place art with this particular approach at center stage, is one of the ambitions of The Eighth Climate: What Does Art Do?, addressing the agency of art in relation to its revitalized or accelerated relevance. Supplementing or augmenting traditional constructivist notions of art’s application in the sphere of life and political reality, the utility of this renewed relevance takes place in the midst of infrastructural focus in the sphere of art in many parts of the world, in the treacherous terrains of existing public and private systems where the utility of art is often disappointingly financial or managerial.1 Not coincidentally, artists as well as small and mid-sized institutions today are concerned with survival, with maintaining and responding to basic infrastructural needs and demands. Yet in the process of doing so, many of these artists and institutions are at the same time acting out or giving a performative aspect to a powerful investment in art and its imaginative and projective qualities – art’s active relationship to the future.

The ““eighth climate” refers to a state which we might reach through our imaginative perception. The notion of the eighth climate, or “the imaginal,” goes back to the 12th-century Persian mystic and philosopher Sohrevardi (1154–91),2 and was elaborated by the 20th-century French philosopher Henri Corbin (1903–78).3 While ancient Greek geographers identified seven physical climates of the earth, this is an additional climate which functions as an “inter-world,” between the natural and spiritual worlds. Corbin describes the eighth climate as ontologically real and existing, but beyond our ordinary way of perceiving and understanding things. Like a mirror which is not the same substance as the image which it holds. And yet, the eighth climate establishes real imaginative knowledge and function, while escaping rationalism as we know it.4 In doing so, it reveals interesting parallels to how contemporary art is functioning.

The eighth climate might well resonate with global warming and other phenomena causing climate change, something which is reflected in many artworks of today, some of which are included in GB11. At the same time, in the context of this Biennale, the eighth climate helps us explore art’s capacity to say and do something about the future, without ending up being paralyzed by the prospects or devolving into futurology, science fiction, techno pessimism, TED-talk utopianism and other established technologies of prediction. The eighth climate evokes art as an indispensable active imagination and hence its function as a seismograph and sniffer dog, often detecting changes and other things before the rest of society, whether the artists are conscious of it or not. It highlights art as a kind of visionary knowledge and practice which can encompass prefiguration, diagnosis, and prognosis, allowing for slightly different, be it ambiguous and conflictual, perspectives on how art engages with what lies ahead of us.5

Whereas the modern project has been dominated by programmatic futurism, the recent decades have been marked by a reluctance, sometimes even inability, to look forward without getting stuck in history. This phenomenon has been termed “retro-topia”: the promise which the future used to hold is here firmly grounded in the past, or at least in its appearance.6 This has been strongly felt in art with the documentary turn uncovering repressed and forgotten histories which get told anew, in the wake of among other things radical changes in historiography, and a crisis of journalism and media, which used to be the bearers of witness reports. At the same time, a lot of current work involving abstraction is more engaged with what will come than what has been, in the “not yet” as it is being articulated. A certain compensatory drive fuels both tendencies, which are equally sensitive to the given conditions in the world. It is worth noting that today prospecting tends to involve revisiting and reformulating foundational ideas of emancipation of the old enlightenment, for example subjectivity, property, and transparency, which emerge in fundamentally different forms than before. One of the features is constant cultivation rather than confidence in the idea of completing a project.7

While being art-centric, with an emphasis on art’’s imaginative capacity, its connection with the future in the midst of daily life and struggles for survival in the present, the curatorial process and resulting structure of GB11 have extended in time and space. Rather than aiming at a thematic exhibition relying on existing art works, taking place under one roof during over two months, GB11 is a constellation of many parts happening over one year. Thinking thoroughly about what art does—without necessarily implying a utilitarian approach—how it lands in different contexts, and how it sits in society and creates ripples on the waterquietly transforms consciousness, GB11 comprises Monthly Gatherings, or Wwol-rae-hoe in Gwangju,8 an Infra-School in Gwangju, Seoul and beyond,9 around a hundred national and international Biennale fellows,10 a Forum, two publications, a blog and an exhibition which stretches from the Gwangju Biennale building to other venues and places in the city and online. Twenty-eight commissions form part of this. Other concerns of this edition of the Biennale are the mediation of art, its embeddedness in various contexts and the potential of connecting dots between already existing activities and people near and afar.11

A large-scale event of contemporary art with international, national, and local ambitions, the Gwangju Biennale is part and parcel of all three levels, while being closely connected to the municipality. The Biennale was founded in 1995, to both market the city as a cultural hub, which is an essential aspect of its history, and as a living memorial to an uprising in 1980, called the May 18 Democratic Uprising.12 When Gwangju citizens rose up against paratroopers sent in by the military dictator to clamp down on students protesting against martial law on 18 May 1980, many civilians were brutally killed in broad daylight. Surprisingly enough, the citizens of Gwangju managed to push back the paratroopers and held the city for eight days, self-organizing to keep up, for instance, municipal functions, before the military took over again, with much bloodshed. Sometimes compared to the 1871 Paris Commune, the 5.18 Uprising is considered a crucial moment for the democratization movement in Korea, and has profoundly marked the spirit and image of the city.13

The Gwangju Biennale’s original legacy of being particularly connected to the city became a determining factor for GB11, making it especially interesting to try and establish contact and conflict zones based on shared concerns between artworks and the inhabitants of Gwangju, taking art as a starting point.14 Researcher and activist George Katsiaficas’’s notion of ““the Eros effect”,,” describing the generative energies created by and in moments of collective commitment and revolt with the 5.18 u5.18 Uprising as a prime example, resonated interestingly with events in different parts of the world which have marked this decade and engaged many artists and other cultural practitioners: the Arab Spring, the Occupy movement, the Umbrella Movement, Los Commmunes etc.15 Mediation turned into a keyword while working in this left-leaning and comparatively low-income “city of light” with 1.,5 million inhabitants, the sixth largest in the country, who historically have been working in food production and the car industry. Experiencing South Korea as an essentially divided patriarchal country, split between progressive tendencies and conservative forces, full of authoritarianism and curiosity as well as insularity and self-censorship, contemporary art appeared to me—more than usual—to offer the potential of suggesting ““otherwise”..”16

Since the founding of the biennaleBiennale in 1995, art, curating, bienniales, the city of Gwangju, and the country itself have all gone through major transformations, creating new opportunities and challenges. At the same time as the Gwangju Biennale has become renowned internationally, frequently mentioned as the most important event for contemporary art in Asia, it quickly became clear to the curatorial team that the Gwangju Biennale Foundation has developed a more removed and complex, partly complicated, relationship with the city itself, including its artistic scene. Addressing ““the imaginal”” in this situation has meant living a paradox: different desiring machines have to interact and sometimes they clash, and the imagined is easily stalled under the formalized circumstances of the given framework. Another determining factor for the making of GB11 was the relatively short timeframe for preparation—less than a year. Then there were my own ongoing interests in what art does, in its function as a sensor and form of understanding, in mediation, and in the under-recognized value of small- and medium-size visual arts organizations as artistic, curatorial, organizational, and social incubators and their relationship to big players like the Gwangju Biennale.

It certainly matters with whom you are working: in addition to the hard working staff of the Gwangju Biennale Foundation, including including internsinterns, I was fortunate enough to be able to put together a team with the curator Binna Choi and assistant curators Azar Mahmoudian, Margarida Mendes, and Michelle Wong. We had the opportunity to make some research while traveling, although that process was more patchy than systematic, and we spent considerable amounts of time in Gwangju between September 2015 and the opening on 2 September 2016.17,

Biennale,’ We did not expect ““site-specific”” or even ““context-sensitive”” work—if the artists wanted to do that, it was fine, but it was not our aim. As part of this process, a handful of artists have been doing mini-residencies in Gwangju, benefiting from the infrastructural side of, for example, Asia Culture Center.18 Also, for the first time in its history, the Gwangju Biennale Foundation has devised fees for the participating artists.19 The selection of artists is based on the criterion of choosing practices that we find relevant and strong today. The entire curatorial team proposed artists and as the artistic director I made the final decision. Some artists, like Hun Yun, Cooperativa Crater InvertidoCooperativa Cráter Invertido and Dora García, then ended up directly referencing Gwangju by making context-sensitive work, like addressing the 5.May 18 Uuprising.

GarciaGarcía’’s “Nokdu bookstore for the living and the deadNokdu bookstore for the living and the dead”,, for example, serves as a continuous inquiry into political resilience and the production of subjectivity, taking as its starting point the legendary bookshop which was a meeting point for numerous contributors to the democratization movement. A spatial facsimile of the original bookshop installed in Gallery 1, GarciaGarcía’’s version is transporting, exploring, and reshaping a historical activity, bringing it not only to our time but to the future as well. Offering among other things poster- printing workshops, presentations on Nokdu’’s Nnight Sschool on activist tactics in the period leading up to the 5.18 u5.18 Uprising, and presentations by the founder of the original bookshop, GarciaGarcía has conceived the new bookshop as a functional fiction. It is a full- scale time machine which propels both backwards and forwards, which is also actually selling books, thanks to a collaboration with Seoul’s bookshop and publisher The Book Society.

The oeuvres, practices, and methodologies of the first group of invited artists indicated the direction of the exhibition, and eventually several methodological and thematic strands were noticed and developed. Subsequently, another seventy odd artists have been invited to show existing work, which emphasize and complicate the various strands.20 Many of the art projects in GB11 pertain to more than one strand, which hint at possible readings of works rather than aiming at firmly framing them. The strands are not illustrations but threads which operate as part of a Wwithin this curatorial direction, the strandsand include ““above and below ground,”” which addresses struggles over land and natural resources. Artists such as Apolonija ŠušteršičApolonija Sustersic with Dari Bae, Fernando GarciaGarcia- Dory, Inseon Park, Joungmin Yi, Nazgol Ansarinia, and Christopher Kulendran Thomas engage with gentrification and housing, while Dale Harding’’s concerns are directly to do with land rights and the faculties of the Eearth. The latter also applies to Gunilla Klingberg’’s work, as well as that of Nicholas Mangan.21 Marie Kølbæk Kölbaek Iversen, Hajra Waheed, Elena Damiani, WasifTG,’s works relate to natural forces and resources below the ground. Nature above ground features in the evocative work of Ingela Ihrman and Seola Kim.

“The labor point of view”” is evincing the persistent engagement of artists with changing conditions of work, their effects on daily life and DIY -techniques, like in the case of Jeamin Cha, Jasmina Metwaly & Philip Rizk, Michael Beutler, Ane Hjort Guttu with Daisuke Kosugi, Li Jinghu, Bona Park, Barbora Kleinhamplová with Tereza StejskalováBarbora Kleinhamplova with Tereza Stejskalova, Goldin+Senneby, and Julia Sarisetiati. 22 ““Between molecules and cosmos,”” or how the most minute elements have wide-ranging effects, is elaborated in the work of Alma Heikkilä, Ane Graff, Anicka Yi, Anton Vidokle, Arseny Zhilyaev, Katie Paterson, Guillermo Faivovich & Nicholas Goldberg, and Pratchaya Phinthong. 23 It involves close-up photographs of samples of burning gas hydrate, a possible replacement of oil, smells from outer space as evinced produced from a candle, peculiar mineralization process on fabric, and strikingly beautiful photographic dissections of a meteorite.

How the European Enlightenment tradition is continuously challenged by both a contemporary pharmaco-pornographic paradigm and new models of performativity is central to ““new subjectivities,” with examples by siren eun young jung, Emily Roysdon, Pauline Boudry /& Renate Lorenz, Babi Badalov, Tyler Coburn, Lili Reynaud Dewar, and Osías Oasis Yanov.24 Here subjectivity appears as one of several foundational concepts, together with for example property and transparency, which today demand radical—embodied—reformulation. In the spirit of Beatriz Preciado’’s 2006 ground breaking book Testo -Junkie, which not only theorizes such reformulations but also performs them, the pieces in question tend to implicate concrete enactments.25

,“the right to opacity,”” referencing Martiniquian philosopher Édouard Edouard Glissant (1928-–2011) and his call for the right to remain illegible, based on colonized people’’s constant subjection to transparency while being measured and assessed.26 Strategies of abstraction can produce artistic and other kinds of space to maneuver, with which the work by Doug Ashford, Adam Pendleton, Ade Darmawan, Amalia Pica, Claire Barclay, David Maljkovic, Iza Tarasewicz, José León CerrilloJose Leon Cerrrillo, Monir Shahroudy FarmanfarmaianMounir Farmanfarmaian, Fahd Burki, Mika Tajima, Philippe Parreno, Rana Begum, Saskia Noor van Imhoff, Suki Seokyeong Kang, Walid Raad, and Ayesha Sultana resonates interestingly.27 In this way, social abstraction concerns withdrawal (abstrahere in Latin means to withdraw), from the mainstream and its increasing lack of self-determination for complexifying practices.

“The image people”” is about a renewed focus on signification processes in and through images, deeply informed by new technologies, like in the work by Trevor Paglen, Aimée Zito Lema, Andrew Norman Wilson, Diogo Evangelista, Nadia Belerique, Hito Steyerl, Tromarama, Mariana Silva, Agnieszka Polska, Mohammad Salemy, Azar Alsharif, and Søren Sören Andreasen, and Tommy Støckel.28 Within the wide range of their practices there are many echoes of 19’80s discussions on the representation of politics versus the politics of representation. And finally ““defiance,”” when artists are challenging the powers that be, up front, for example Adelita Husni-Bey, Ahmet ÖğütÖgut, Collectiva Crater Invertido, Flo Kasearu, Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Matias Faldbakken, and Sachiko Kazama.29 Yet some others are ““free-floating”,,” like Annie Lai Kuen WanAnnie Wan, Bernd Krauß, Krauss and Jewyo Rhii with Jihyun Jung, insisting on orbiting GB11 on their own, and Ann Lislegaard, Bik van der Pol, Christian Nyampeta, Raqs Mmedia Ccollective, Sojung Jun, Tania Pérez Córdova, and Nabuqi, who in this context set up their own spheres. Some artists engage with the infrastructure of the biennaleBiennale, among them are Céline Celine Condorelli, Ruth Buchanan, and Metahaven.

Somewhere in the middle of this curatorial process the title—“The Eighth Climate: What Does Art Do?”—- came about: it is not a ““theme”” or a ““concept,”” but rather indicates a set of parameters. It is about placing art center -stage, art’’s capacity to always say something about the future, connect dots over small and big distances, embeddedness in particular situations, and mediation.30 What happens if we try to tease out more of the artworks in this eclectic, kaleidoscopic, and puzzling adventure? If we accept their invitation to engage, and take their interpellation more at face value? One of the things which we might end up doing is to enter a dance of futurity where the past is neither forgotten nor a guiding light. In that sense, I think of GB11 as a temperature check of art today, filtered through the interests, experiences, and competences of the curatorial team, and shaped by the given conditions. They include having lived and worked in different geographical and cultural contexts such as Hong Kong, Tehran, Seoul, Lisbon, Lodz, Utrecht, New York, London, and Stockholm, initiating and working in organizations and institutions of varying scales, and bridging curating, research, mediation, education, writing, and organizing.

In the galleries, different “atmospheres,”” or climates, have been created, through, for instance, density, sparsity, or darkness, attemptsing at choreographing the space of experience in such a way that individual artworks can shine at the same time as the constellation of works create synergy effects.31 The idea of a dynamic experience of artworks, with multiple spatial viewpoints and options of movements rather than one unambiguous trajectory, has been important, allowing for both confrontation and contemplation.32 This choreography tends to underline the collective experience, at the expense of isolated artworks aimed at individual consumption, like in Gallery 1 which is offering a rich mix of materials, modalities, and subject matter, becoming rather kaleidoscopic. One gallery in the Biennale Hall, purpose-built for the biennale in 1995 in the Buk-gu residential neighborhood and next to a park, corresponds to a particular strand—, abstraction as in ““the right to opacity”” in Gallery 4—, and elsewhere the strands are mixed. This is the case with Gallery 3, where each art work creates its own ““zone”,,” leaving the walls untouched. The dark Gallery 2 is assembling a number of works containing light: video and slide projections, flat screens, and sculptural installations. They are displayed without separating walls. Another gallery is devoted to a single composite installation with sculptures and sequenced video projections, by Pauline Boudry /& Renate Lorenz.

In the ramps leading to and from the galleries, Prajakta Potnis has crafted subtle cracks and seams on the walls, Dale Harding is grafting the oldest painting technique in the world for future use, and Babi Badalov creates a vibrant collage of migrant languages and images. One of the ramp landings features Adam Pendleton’’s vinyl wallpaper with deconstructed language resonating with the current rallying cries of the activist Black Lives Matter movement in the US. Works are also shown in three private museums near the Mudeungsan Mudeung mMountain in on the outskirts of the city, namely Bernd Krauß Krauss at the Mudeung Museum of Contemporary Art, Gunilla Klingberg at Uijae Museum of Korean Art, and Saskia Noor van Imhoff at the Woo Jaeghil Art Museum. Krauß Krauss stretches out a long tentacle across Gwangju to the biennale hallBiennale Hall where a shelf on wheels moves around Gallery 1 with elements tied to his museum show.

Other venues are the 5.18 Aarchive, the Asia Culture Center, and elsewhere where the artists have chosen to work. The former holds a small ““group exhibition within the exhibition”” curated by Binna Choi, and Christopher Kulendran Thomas is showing a new installation at the Asia Culture Center. Apolonija ŠušteršičApolonija Sustersic, Fernando GarciaGarcia- Dory, Michael Beutler, and Natascha Sadr Haghighian have found their own locations in various parts of Gwangju. Metahaven have been commissioned to make an online film, and a mural connected to the film on the façade of the biennale hallBiennale Hall. In addition, Eyal Weizman’’s 2013 folly, entitled The Roundabout Revolution, has simply been incorporated into GB11. Yet another space is the publication which you are reading, one of two, the first of which presents among other things texts on each art work, self-presentations by the artists and the fellows, and Q&As with artists and curators. The second publication will is reflecting the significance of the Biennale Fellowsfellows and, the ForumForum, and document GB11 as a whole. Both are designed by Metahaven, who also devised the blog the8thclimate.org, which will be actively used by the participants of this year’’s Gwangju Biennale International Curating Course.33

A two- day Fforum is is organized for 2-–4 September to at which the Biennale Fellowsfellows, other peers and colleagues, artists, and other interested people are invited to come together, share experiences and discuss the futures of this kind of work, especially with regards to questions of value, continuity, and scale. The Fellows exemplify practices which propose approaches, methods and sensibilities which differ from those of the mainstream, performed by artists, curators, writers, educators, activists and others, be they professionals or amateurs, who often take non-conformist positions. A handful of lectures, with, among others, the author of the outstanding 2007 novel The Vegetarian, Han Kang, and gallerist and poet Hu Fang, are part of the Fforum, as well as workshops in smaller groups, taking into account the complexity of an art eco-system where art plays into social fabrics, and seeks agile modes of co-existence of within such a system. A central concern is if and how meaningful relationships can be created between large structures, for example the Gwangju Biennale, and such small- and medium- scale ““differential”” organizations. Each of them is stimulating generative artistic, curatorial, and educational experimentation while often engaging with their immediate surroundings.

Like many artists and art practicioners, the Biennale Fellowsfellows produce what researcher Sarah Thelwall has termed ““deferred value””: they are never ““paid back”” for their investing in risk-filled new works and methods. Instead, these works and methods are eventually—often 10-15ten to fifteen years later—picked up by the mainstream, whether the commercial art market or the non-profit sector, which then can reap the fruits, gain the profit so to speak, in the form of, for instance, media attention, large visitor numbers, donations, and sponsorship.34 The Biennale Fellowsfellows have been appointed such based on this kind of invaluable contribution which they are making ““at home”,,” there and then, without the biennaleBiennale interfering or in other ways affecting their program or day to day activities. Many of the Biennale Fellowsfellows function as runways: they are places where things take off and other things land, unique translational spaces where people, activities, and issues which usually don’’t cross paths actually intersect and share time and space.35 In light of the relative imaginative poverty of most mainstream institutions, this these kinds of organizations are not only working on a concrete futurity without directly benefiting from it themselves, they are also uniquely structurally placed to do so.36 The purpose of appointing the Biennale Fellowsfellows is rather to highlight them at the same time, so as to make a certain critical mass visible, and offer an opportunity to come together, and if desired, to mobilize.37

Drawing to an end, we should be reminded that there is only ever so much that an introductory text like the one you are reading now can do. I am writing this in July 2016, in a small wooden cottage built by my grand-parents in the ’60s on an island in the archipelago of Stockholm, with the biennial Biennale exhibition still ahead of me. The most vital thing is to experience GB11, to take part in the Monthly Gatherings, the Infra-School sessions, and various other mediation activities. To encounter the artworks in the biennale hallBiennale Hall and beyond, navigate the spaces, and engage with constellations of works. For those of you being far from Korea, a peak peek at the8thclimate.org can give you a hint at what is actually going on. You are also perfectly placed to view Metahaven’’s film commission Information Skies, only available online. Some of the GB11 commissions will ultimately be shown in other contexts, in different places across the world, as will the existing works. As it goes, contemporary artworks and the people surrounding them habitually move around, travelling across great distances, turning up and functioning as tokens in a complex web of exchange. A literal network which is a latent source of parallel mustering in a world which, only shortly from now, most likely will look very different from this moment.

The Gwangju Biennale is an amplifier, with time achieving the status of ““a major”” in the sense of philosophers Gilles Deleuze (1925-–95) and Félix Felix Guattari’’s (1930–-92) comparison to a ““minor literature”..”38 It can make a difference, on various levels, thanks to this status. Having access to the resources and infrastructure of such a major is exceptional for me, it is a pleasure and a privilege, and it immediately propelled me to consider what it would mean to try and ““become minor”,,” to seek to work from within a major in order to deterritorialize, consider each art work as being directly connected to political immediacy and to mobilize some of it, collectively.39 To affirm ““something else”,,” something which is not easy to interpret, which is often ambiguous and offers a certain measure of experimentation rather than interpretation, codification, and representation. This is how I think of Joungmin Yi’’s painting series Walking-Form: bluish-greenish canvases of varying size with broad brushstrokes mostly showing details of objects and scenes which might be encountered during a walk in a major Korean city. Stones on a smooth surface, a wall which is about to be taken apart, a gnarly tree, two people on a bench. Others are hard to recognize. Landing somewhere between figuration and abstraction, the jJun-beop brushstrokes of Oriental painting which she is using, aim at conveying an essence rather than appearance, being part of her ““mind-walking”” that tends to make her challenge her own conventions, as well as the ones of the viewer.

Maria Lind

[1] The infrastructure supporting art and its institutions, the conditions of production, have played a major role in open and closed discussions on art since the late 90s. The reasons are clear: a paradigm shift has affected art and its existence in most parts of the world, most significantly the tremendous boom of the commercial art market and the subsequent effects on public institutions and their funding. Where there is a non-profit sector, budget cuts and strict instrumentalization abound with strings attached, threatening the very existence of many visual arts organizations. See for example Maria Lind and Raimund Minichbauer, eds: European Cultural Policies 2015: A Report with Scenarios on the Future of Public Funding in Europe, (2005 Iaspis) and eipcp,
eipcp.netfor a discussion on the situation in Europe, and Maria Lind and Olav Velthuis, eds: Contemporary Art and Its Commercial Markets: A Report on Current Conditions and Future Scenarios (2012) for a more general take on the expansion of the commercial art market, with an essay by Alain Qemin on regionalization, including Asia.

[2] See for example Mehdi Amin Razavi,’s Suhrawardi and the School of Illumination (Richmond: Curzon Press, 1997). Suhrawardi’s Sohrevardi’s contribution is here described as a synthesis of the rationalist school of thought of the peripatetics, the intellectual intuition of the illuminationsts, and finally the ascetic innter journey of the Sufis into a unified philosophical paradigm.

[3] Artist Walid Raad alerted me to this text. For a Q&A with Henri Corbin scholar Anoush Ganjipour on the eighth climate, see p. 172.

[4] The eighth climate is also known as mundus imaginalis in Latin (the imaginal world). See Henri Corbin,: “Mundus Imaginalis” (Brussels, 1964),

[5] Among the resonance boards for the thinking and acting around GB11 are Keller Easterling,: Extrastatecraft: The Power of Infrastructure Space (New York: Verso, 2014); Michel Serres,: Parasite (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press,1982); Mark Fisher,: Ghosts of My Life: Writings on Depression, Hauntology and Lost Futures (Zero Books 2014), Franco Bifo Berardio Bifo,: After the Future (Chico: AK Press, 2011); McKkenzie Wark,: Molecular Red: A Theory of the Anthropocene (New York: Verso 2015); Timothy Morton,: Hypero Objects: Philosophy and Ecology After the End of the World (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2013); Frederic Jameson, Archaelogies of the Future: The Desire Called Utopia and Other Fictions (New York: Verso, 2005); Karen Barad, Meeting the Universe Halfway (Durham: Duke University Press, 2007); Stefano Harney & Fred Moten, The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study (New York: Autonomedia, 2013).

[6] Boris Buden has discussed this phenomenon in several texts, for example Zone des Übergangs. Vom Ende des Postkommunismus, (Berlin: Suhrkamp Verlag, 2009).

[7] See for example Future Light, which I curated in Vienna in 2015 as part of the first Vienna Biennial on the invitation of the Museum Angewandte Kunst, where some of these ideas were explored in a group exhibition, a solo presentation and three commissions, as well as an online reader, futurelight.space. The essays by Clare Birchall, Boris Buden, Reza Negarestani, Brian Kuan Wood and Natascha Sadr Haghighian are specially pertinent in this context. See also Future Light, exhibition brochure, MAK 2015.

[8] Monthly Gatherings—Wol-rae-hoe—is a series of informal gatherings in Gwangju, on different scales, running January—November 2016. The term is used in Korea for regular gatherings after scheduled work time at work places. Each GB11 Monthly Gathering focuses on art and Gwangju and goes on for two to three days. It is a collaboration between Mite-Ugro, a Gwangju-based art collective which functions as the local curatorial associate of GB11, and the curatorial team. Mite-Ugro’s project space in Daein Market is the main venue for the events, and the participants will be GB11 artists, students, citizens, and initiatives, primarily from Gwangju. The purpose of the Monthly Gathering program is to bring closer together the Gwangju Biennale and the art world in Gwangju, especially its younger sections, through face-to-face contacts and formal as well as informal exchanges and conversations. The activities of Monthly Gathering include "The Mite-Ugro Art Book Collection", “Group Readings”, “Artists Screenings”, “The Art Work in Focus”, and “Curated Walks.” See p. 48.

[9] The Infra-School is a program in which GB11 connects its curatorial and artistic knowledge to the existing formal and informal educational institutions in Gwangju and beyond. Infra-School consists of lectures, presentations, group discussions, and seminars by GB11 artists and curators or jointly organizing conferences, colloquia and fora. Instead of establishing a new independent educational set-up, the Infra-School taps into resources that are already there and intends to multiply connections and expand relations. In doing so, it aims at embedding the GB11 in the local, regional, and national eco-system of art, whereby the mutual benefits and inter-dependence between different entities become strengthened. Among the Infra-School associates are Chosun University, Gwangju; Chonnam University, Gwangju; Dongduk Women’s University, Seoul; The Gwangju International Center; Hongik University, Seoul; RAT School of ARTArt, Seoul; The New Center, New York and online; Seoul National University—Asia Centre, Seoul; the Dongduk Women's University, Seoul and the Inter-Asia Biennale Forum. See p. 30-32.

[10] In order to highlight and discuss a seminal part of the contemporary art sector, GB11 has declared around 100 a hundred small- and medium- scale art organizations across the world, which share concerns and affinities with its curators and artists, as “Biennale fellows” for the duration of exhibition period. Among the Biennale fellows are Times Museum (Guangzhou), ruangrupa (Jakarta), Clark House Initiative (Mumbai), Triangle (New York), How & for Whom/WHW (Zagreb), and The Showroom (London). Such organizations often function as the research and development department of the art world, generating new ideas, giving opportunities to emerging artists, and shaping new curatorial and educational methods. They are organizations which “make a difference” in relation to dominant mainstream developments, and yet their work tends to be under the radar of both the mainstream art scene and the media. Being a Biennale fellow means going on doing the great work they normally do, without GB11 being involved in the activities. See p. 31 and p.185-196.

[11] Maria Lind, “Why Mediate Art?” (2011) in Mousse Magazine #28.

[12] See George Katsiaficas's essay "The Eros Effect" (American Sociological Association National Meetings in San Francisco, 1989) and his book Asia's Unknown Uprisings Volume 1: South Korean Social Movements in the 20th Century (Oakland: PM Press, 2012) for more on May 18 Democratic Uprising.

[13] See for example Choi Jungwoon,: The Gwangju Uprising: The Pivotal Democratic Movement That Changed the History of Modern Korea (New Jersey: Homa and Sekey Press, 2005) and George Katsiaficas,: Asia’’s Unknown Uprisings Volume 1: South Korean Social Movements in the 20th 0th Century (Oakland, PM Press 2012).

[14] The notion of “contact zone” is borrowed from anthropologist Mary Louise Pratt’’s 1991 paper “Arts of the Contact Zone”, in Professions. She describes contact zones as “social spaces where cultures meet, clash and grapple with each other, often in contexts of highly asymmetrical relations of power.” James Clifford develops the notion in relation to museums in Routes: Travel and Translation in the Late Twentieth Century (Cambridge: Harvard University Press,1997). Nora Sternfeld is elaborating on conflict zones in “Memorial Sites as Contact Zones: Cultures of Memory in a Shared/Divided Present” (www.eipcp.net, 2011). The approach of GB11 is informed by the practice of Tensta konsthall, developed with the team there since I started in 2011, as well as that of the members of Cluster, a network for small-scale visual arts organizations in suburban residential areas, primarily in Europe,

[15] George Katsiaficas, The Eros Effect (American Sociological Association National Meetings in San Francisco, 1989).

[16] Kuan-Hhsing Chen’s concept of “critical syncretism” is interesting in this context, suggesting that decolonization movements in Asia should avoid both identification with the colonizer and the narcissistic tendencies of nativist movements. The purpose is to “generate a system of multiple reference points that can break away from the self-reproducing neocolonial framework that structures the trajectories and flows of desire.” Asia as Method: Toward Deimperialization (p.101. Durham: Duke University Press, 2010).

[17] In addition to spending a considerable amount of time in Gwangju, the curatorial team conducted research in Seoul, Istanbul, Riga, Prague, Milan, Moscow, Yekaterinburg, Sydney, Brisbane, New York, Beirut, Helsinki, Tallinn, Zagreb, Copenhagen, Oslo, Paris, Lyon, Vienna, Brussels, Antwerp, Dakar, London, Warsaw, Jakarta, Dhaka, Stockholm, Malmö, Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Tokyo, Mumbai, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht, Eindhoven, Berlin, Tehran, Mexico City, Buenos Aires, and Singapore.

[18] Cooperativa Cráter Invertido and Babi Badalov have been commissioned to make new work but did not travel to Gwangju prior to making the work.

[19] See for example Maria Lind “On the Curatorial” in Selected Maria Lind Writing (Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2010).

[20] It is a symbolic rather than substantial fee: $500 US dollars for existing work and$2,000 US dollars for commissions.

[21] It was a requirement of the Gwangju Biennale Foundation that a minimum of two Gwangju-based artists, out of twelve pre-selected by a local jury, should be invited to GB11. Therefore, in July 2016 Sul Park and Yongshul Kim from the Portfolio Review Program were included in GB11.

[22] For a Q&A with artists and curators on “Above and Below Ground” see p. 158-160.

[23] For a Q&A with artists and curators on “The Labor Point of View,” see p. 167-171.

[24] For a Q&A with artists and curators on “Between Molecules Cosmos” see p. 177-179.

[25] For a Q&A with artists and curators on “New Subjectivities” see p. 175-176.

[26] Beatriz Preciado: Testo Junkie: Sex, Drugs and Biopolitics in the Pharmacopornographic Era (New York: City University of New York, 2013).

[27] Édouard Glissant: One World in Relation (Film, 50 minutes, directed by Manthia Diawara, 2010).

[28] For a Q&A with artists and curators on “The Right to Opacity New Subectivities,” see p. 164.

[29] For a Q&A with artists and curators on ““The Image People,” see p. 172.

[30] For a Q&A with artists and curators on ““Defiance,” see p. 161.

[31] See p. 26 for a discussion on mediation. These four core points were part of the 300-word proposal, which I was invited to submit to the Gwangju Biennale Foundation at the beginning of June 2015. There were ten days to formulate a proposal.

[33] This is an approach to exhibition-making which I have often employed since 1997, including the group exhibition Clean & Sane at Edsviks Kkonsthall, Stockholm, with varying results, and most recently at Vienna’’s Museum Angewandte Kunst in 2015 with the group exhibition Escaping Transparency as part of the overall project Future Light. Inspiration has been drawn from for instance the 1990s collaborative exhibitions of Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Pierre Huyghe, and Philippe Parreno, as well as later learning about the curatorial work from the same period of Renate Lorenz and Ursula Biemann at the Shedhalle in Zürich Zurich, and Group Material’s exhibitions in the US and elsewhere. In Charlotte Klonk’s Spaces of Experience: Art Gallery Interiors from 1800 to 2000 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009), there are correspondences with the “collectivist spectatorship” model developed in and through display and general choreography of exhibition spaces by some of the Constructivist artists of the early 20th century.

[33] All text-based works, including videos, have Korean and English translations.

[34] Started in 2009, the 2016 GBICC has twenty participants and is co-taught by Joanna Warsza and myself.

[35] Sarah Thelwall, “Size Matters: Notes Towards A Better Understanding of the Value, Operation and Potential of Small-Scale Visual Arts Organizations” (Common Practice, 2011).

[36] Mikael Löfgren, “No Exceptions: On Value Creation in Small and Mid-Sized Galleries of Contemporary Art” (Klister, 2014), originally published in 2014 in Swedish.

[37] Binna Choi, Maria Lind, Emily Pethick, Natasa Petresin BachelezNataša Petrešin-Bachelez, ed., Cluster: A Dialectionary (Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2014). See especially the essay by Andrea Phillips.

[38] During the last few years a number of institutional networks have been established, one of the reasons being the need for mutual support structures and the sharing of knowledge and experience. Among them are L’’iInternationale (http://www.internationaleonline.org), Arts Collaboratory, (http://www.artscollaboratory.org) and Cluster (see note 14).

[39] Gilles Deleuze and& Félix Felix Guattari, “What Is A Minor Literature?,” from Mississippi Review, Vol. 11, No. 3, Essays Literary Criticism (Winter/Spring, 1983), pp. 13-33. The essay was originally published in 1975.

[40] Deleuze and Guattari use the writing of Franz Kafka to discuss ““minor literature”, i. e. how Kafka as a German-speaking Jew in Prague is an example of how language is deterritorialized ““for strange and minor uses”, how in this situation the individual is directly connected to political immediacy and how collective values are produced.