“Mr. Eui Jin Chai and 1,000 Canes” by Lim Min-ouk (Gwangju Biennale Foundation)
The Gwangju Biennale Foundation is embarking on a global project titled “MaytoDay” to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the May 18 Gwangju Democratic Uprising, hosting exhibitions around the world in an effort to promote the spirit of the democratization movement.
The project, “MaytoDay,” will take place in five cities in four countries -- Taiwan, South Korea, Germany and Argentina -- from May to November. The project will also be showcased at next year’s Venice Biennale in May.
The May 18 Gwangju Democratic Uprising, which took place May 18 to 27, 1980, in Gwangju arose against military strongman Chun Doo-hwan, who came to power in a military coup in December 1979.
The democratization movement led by student demonstrators soon spread to civilians angered by the regime’s indiscriminate violence against the citizens. The regime isolated Gwangju by blockading the city and deployed special forces to terminate the movement, which it branded a communist-incited rebellion. Hundreds of innocent civilians were killed or wounded in Gwangju.
“Four Actors Waving the Korean Flag” by Oh Hein-kuhn (Gwangju Biennale Foundation)
As part of the “MaytoDay” project, the first exhibition, “May Co-sensus: Demo-stream in Democracy,” will be held in Taiwan from May 1 to July 5. Then two exhibitions in Seoul -- “Spring of Democracy” and “Greetings From May”-- will be held May 16 to June 14 at the Art Sonje Center and the Seoul Hall of Urbanism and Architecture.
The “MaytoDay” project will continue at the Akademie der Kunste der Welt in Germany through an exhibition titled “Gwangju Lessons” in late June. The “MaytoDay” project was originally scheduled to start in April in Germany, but it was pushed back due to the outbreak of COVID-19.
In August, “Myth of the Near Future” will be held at the Memory Site Museum in Argentina. The museum is a former Navy School of Mechanics (ESMA)site and was used as a clandestine detention, torture and extermination center during the 1976-1983 dictatorship in Argentina.
Official emblem of the “MaytoDay” project (Gwangju Biennale Foundation)
“The countries we have selected for the project -- Argentina, Germany and Taiwan -- have gone through conflicts and pains similar to those of Korea, such as military dictatorship and struggle over ideology. And for Taiwan, the conflict with China is continuing,” Moon Ju-wha, a public relations manager with the Gwangju Biennale Foundation, told The Korea Herald. “We thought it would be meaningful to host exhibitions in the countries as part of the ‘MaytoDay’ project.”
The project will continue at the 2020 Gwangju Biennale through the exhibition “MaytoDay,” from Aug. 27 to Nov. 15.
The 2020 Gwangju Biennale is scheduled to run Sept. 4 to Nov. 29 in Gwangju under the theme of “Minds Rising, Spirits Tuning,” organized by the Gwangju Biennale Foundation and Gwangju Metropolitan City.
By Park Yuna (email@example.com)