The Korea Herald


Gwangju Biennale 2024 to explore sound, space of 'pansori'

By Park Yuna

Published : June 26, 2023 - 20:04

    • Link copied

Nicolas Bourriaud, artistic director of the 15th edition of the Gwangju Biennale, speaks at a press conference in Seoul on Monday. (Yonhap) Nicolas Bourriaud, artistic director of the 15th edition of the Gwangju Biennale, speaks at a press conference in Seoul on Monday. (Yonhap)

The Gwangju Biennale 2024 will be held under the title “Pansori -- a soundscape of the 21st century,” led by French director Nicolas Bourriaud. "Pansori," a form of Korean traditional musical storytelling performed by a singer and a drummer, will be a metaphor of the overarching theme for the 15th edition of the biennale.

Bourriaud will explore the concept of space correlating to sound, spurring a discussion about our changing senses and perceptions of space. Literally meaning the “sound of public place,” pansori refers to the voice of the common people, featuring a form of narrative singing.

“From social distancing due to the pandemic to climate change, including flooding, desertification and rising sea levels due to global warming, humanity’s relationship with space has changed dramatically over the past few years,” Bourriaud said during a press conference in Seoul on Monday.

The biennale will unfold as a narrative that will make the audiences feel as if they are watching a film. The artistic director said he considers curating a biennale the same as creating a sequence in a film.

The biennale will consist of three sub-themes -- “Larsen effect,” “Polyphony” and “Primordial sound.” The "Larsen effect,” also known as audio feedback, occurs when two sound emitters or receivers are too close to each other. It is produced by crowding and a lack of space.

"Polyphony," meaning the simultaneous combination of two or more melodic lines in music, is a section where artists will bring together the polyphony of the world by focusing on complexity and acknowledging that we live in a multi-faceted, multi-layered universe.

“Primordial sound,” meaning the sound of origins, artists will explore the non-human world and the concept of infinity.

Art projects will also take place at diverse locations across Gwangju.

Bourriaud is an internationally renowned art critic who has pioneered the concept of “relational aesthetics.”

Next year’s Gwangju Biennale will be held in September, commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Gwangju Biennale Foundation. The 14th edition of the biennale, titled “Soft and Weak Like Water” and curated by Lee Sook-kyung, kicked off April 6 and runs through July 9.

The biennale was held in even-numbered years before the pandemic, which affected the 13th edition. After a couple of delays, it was finally held in 2021. Gwangju Biennale will return to its regular schedule with the 16th edition being held in 2026, according to the foundation.