The Korea Herald


Lee Sook-kyung of Tate Modern to helm Gwangju Biennale in 2023

By Park Yuna

Published : Dec. 22, 2021 - 15:03

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Lee Sook-kyung, senior curator of international art at Tate Modern (Roger Sinek, Gwangju Biennale Foundation) Lee Sook-kyung, senior curator of international art at Tate Modern (Roger Sinek, Gwangju Biennale Foundation)
A London-based Korean curator has been appointed to head the 2023 Gwangju Biennale.

Lee Sook-kyung, senior curator of International Art at the Tate Modern, will take on the role of artistic director of the 14th Gwangju Biennale scheduled to take place in April 2023, the Gwangju Biennale Foundation announced Tuesday.

Lee, who has been active in the global art scene for the past 28 years, specializes in “transnational curating.” Her previous posts include being commissioner and curator of the Korean Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale and curator of the Nam June-paik’s touring retrospective that started at Tate Modern in 2019. The exhibition is currently running in Singapore through March 27, 2022.

Her latest curatorial work, “A Year in Art: Australia 1992,” at Tate Modern, addresses issues on Indigenous land and other civic rights.

The 14th edition of the Gwangju Biennale will reflect the “Gwangju spirit” examined through a transnational lens. Lee’s current curatorial thinking will be embodied in the multilayered media and interdisciplinary frames as a South Korean-born curator with a strong international presence. She is the first Korean-born artistic director of the biennale since 2006, according to the foundation.

“The role of art is to address our shared crisis and to propose future directions: race and class conflicts, climate emergency and environmental concerns, and the pandemic caused by the COVID-19 are such crises on a planetary dimension that artists of our time are exploring. The host city Gwangju itself will be the center and method of the next edition, redefining Gwangju’s international position,” Lee was quoted as saying in the press release.

“I aim to create a message unique to Gwangju based on the spirits of the city and its Biennale, with a commitment to a non-Western perspective. A transformation of relationship between centers and peripheries, truly equal connections and exchanges and a vision for better human communities will all be present,” she said.

Born in 1969, Lee received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in art history and theory from Hongik University and worked as a curator at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea from 1993 to 1998. She moved to the UK to earn a master’s degree in arts criticism at the City, University of London. She holds a doctorate degree in art history and theory from the University of Essex.

Lee started her career as an exhibitions and displays curator at Tate Liverpool, before working as a Tate Modern research curator and later as a senior research curator. Currently she heads the Hyundai Tate Research Center: Transnational.