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Gwangju Biennale pushed back to next year as COVID-19 pandemic continues

(The Gwangju Biennale Foundation)
(The Gwangju Biennale Foundation)

The 13th Gwangju Biennale, which was scheduled to kick off in September, has been postponed to February 2021 due to the spread of COVID-19, the Gwangju Biennale Foundation announced Monday.

The art biennale was originally scheduled to be held Sept. 4-Nov. 29 at the Gwangju Biennale Exhibition Hall and other venues throughout the city of Gwangju. However, the foundation decided to delay the exhibition as COVID-19 infections continue to spread across the globe.

“Considering that artists from all over the world participate in the international art event, we had to gauge possible problems related to COVID-19 that could occur at the biennale. Adjusting the opening to next year was inevitable,” said Kim Sun-jung, president of the Gwangju Biennale Foundation.

The foundation said it has been monitoring the pandemic situation and is regularly consulting with co-directors Defne Ayas and Natasha Ginwala, who are based in Germany and Sri Lanka, respectively, via videoconference to follow up on the situation in the global arts world as COVID-19 spreads.

The biennale was to feature a variety of artistic events, ranging from exhibitions and performance programs to a series of public forums with the participation of artists and theoretical scientists from around the world. Co-directed by Ayas and Ginwala, the 13th Gwangju Biennale’s main exhibition, “Minds Rising, Spirits Turning” was to deal with a wide spectrum of intelligence, questioning how humans can co-evolve with artificial intelligence and algorithm systems that now prevail in humans’ lives. The rescheduled biennale will feature the same programming and events.

In 2018, 165 artists from 43 countries participated in the biennale’s main exhibition “Imagined Borders,” according to the foundation.

The Gwangju Biennale Foundation’s global project “MaytoDay,” which hosts exhibitions promoting the spirit of the May 18 Gwangju Democratic Uprising in Taiwan, South Korea, Germany and Argentina, has also been partly delayed. While the exhibition in Taiwan will remain open until July 15, the upcoming exhibitions in Korea, Germany and Argentina will be pushed back to August or next year.

Other major international art events have been delayed due to the COVID-19, including the 2020 Venice Architecture Biennale, which was pushed back to August from May.

By Park Yuna (