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Lee Sook-kyung aims to bring Gwangju Biennale to transnational realm next year

Lee Sook-kyung, artistic director of the 14th Gwangju Biennale (Gwangju Biennale Foundation)
Lee Sook-kyung, artistic director of the 14th Gwangju Biennale (Gwangju Biennale Foundation)

Lee Sook-kyung, artistic director of the 14th Gwangju Biennale, will bring a transnational perspective to South Korea’s largest biennale, while maintaining the spirit of Gwangju, a city where the legacy of the 1980 Gwangju Uprising is indelibly etched.

Appointed in December as the artistic director for next year’s Gwangju Biennale, Lee is a senior curator of international art at the Tate Modern.

“I will reconstruct the ‘spirit of Gwangju’ through a contemporary and transnational perspective. I am carrying out preliminary research, approaching Gwangju as a place that connects the world, putting ‘spirit of Gwangju’ at the center of it,” Lee was quoted as saying in the press release issued by the Gwangju Biennale Foundation on Monday.

Upon arriving in Korea on Feb. 21, Lee visited Gwangju and Seoul for the first time after her appointment to conduct field study and meet artists in the two cities. She will leave on March 2 and is scheduled to return in September, according to the foundation.

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

The 14th edition of the Gwangju biennale will be held for 94 days across Gwangju from April 4 to July 9, which will be the longest run ever for the biennale. The most recent biennale was held in April 2021 with the theme of “Minds Rising, Spirits Tuning” after being twice delayed from the original September 2020 date due to the pandemic.

Meanwhile, the Gwangju Biennale Foundation and GIZI Foundation, a foundation estsablished by Korean contemporary artist Park Seo-bo in 2019 to support talented artists across art genres have agreed to launch the Gwangju Biennale Park Seo-bo Art Prize at the upcoming Gwangju Biennale. The prize which recognizes a promising artist participating at the biennale will continue to be awarded until 2042.

By Park Yuna (yunapark@heraldcorp.com)

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