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‘What does art do? Mediating the Gwangju Biennale 2016’ Seminar

Hong Kong Arts Development Council (HKADC) will collaborate with Gwangju Biennale Foundation of Korea for the first time in participating in the 11th edition of Gwangju Biennale. Participation in the Biennale would be one of the HKADC’s important overseas cultural exchange activities for this year, which aims at contributing to the development of the local Visual Art field. The collaboration will kick start with a seminar titled ‘What does art do? Mediating the Gwangju Biennale 2016’ held at The University of Hong Kong on 23 March 2016.

Founded in 1995, the Gwangju Biennale of Korea pioneered as the first contemporary art exhibition in Asia, and has gradually emerged as one of the highlights in the international contemporary art biennale circuit. The 11th edition of the Gwangju Biennale, scheduled for this September to November, will have its artistic direction steered by its curatorial team comprising Artistic Director - Maria Lind (Stockholm), Curator - Binna Choi (Utrecht/Seoul) and Assistant Curators - Azar Mahmoudian (Tehran), Margarida Mendes (Lisbon) and Michelle Wong (Hong Kong).

A seminar titled ‘What does art do? Mediating the Gwangju Biennale 2016’ will be presented by Gwangju Biennale Foundation and HKADC on 23 March 2016, in collaboration with the Department of Fine Arts, School of Humanities, The University of Hong Kong. The initiative not only serves to enhance the professional and public understanding of the Biennale, but also to foster art and cultural exchanges between Hong Kong and Korea. Ms. Binna Choi (Curator), Ms. Michelle Wong (Assistant Curator) and Ms. Annie Wan (Artist) of Gwangju Biennale 2016 will be featured as speakers, with Johnson Chang (Initiator, Inter-Asia Biennale Forum) as respondent. The seminar will be moderated by Dr. Yeewan Koon from the Department of Fine Arts.

The seminar will explore the potential of the Biennale from the perspective of a platform to derive and transfer art knowledge instead of a pure showcase of art works. With stronger linkage between Biennale and art education, more possibilities of ‘art’ would be mediated at the same time.

Details of the seminar:

Date: 23 March 2016 (Wednesday)
Time: 2:30pm to 4:00pm
Venue: Room 434, Run Run Shaw Tower, Centennial Campus, The University of Hong Kong
Speakers: Ms. Binna Choi (Curator, Gwangju Biennale 2016, and Director of Casco - Office for Art, Design and Theory) Ms. Annie Wan (Participating artist, Gwangju Biennale 2016, and Assistant Professor, Academy of Visual Arts, Hong Kong Baptist University) Ms. Michelle Wong (Assistant Curator, Gwangju Biennale 2016, and Researcher, Asia Art Archive)
Respondent: Mr. Johnson Chang (Initiator, Inter-Asia Biennale Forum)
Moderator: Dr. Yeewan Koon (Associate Professor, Department of Fine Arts, School of Humanities, The University of Hong Kong)

The seminar will be conducted in English and is for free admission. Reservation is made on first-come-first-served basis. For enquiries and registration, please visit or contact Mr. Choi of the HKADC at 2820 1024.

About Gwangju Biennale
Founded in 1995, an international exhibition of contemporary art held every two years, the Gwangju Biennale has not only become the basis of cultural and global communications for Gwangju, Korea, but also extended the cultural exchanges from Korea to Asia as well as the rest of the world. With the themes and exhibition ideas of each edition set by the Artistic Director, the Biennale showcases a great diversity of visual art exhibits and organises fringe programmes such as international academic conferences, so as to induce explorations and discussions on contemporary art culture beyond the demonstration of art exhibits.

About ‘What does art do? Mediating the Gwangju Biennale 2016’ Panel Discussion
At this moment in time when it seems easier to talk about the public and private infrastructures that support art than art itself, the 2016 Gwangju Biennale aims to direct our attention to art works and projects. The central concerns of the Biennale are hence the question “What does art do?”, and how situations in which each art work and project meets its public can be meaningfully generated.

For 2016 GB, one such sites of mediation is that of the university, where art, as well as art history, is taught to future generations of practitioners. An ongoing series of lectures under the name of ‘Infra-School’ is organised in both Gwangju and Seoul as part of the Biennale, not only a way of pushing the boundaries of an art biennale as an mega-event, but also an effort to embed it – by weaving the flow of people it brings such as artists and curators into existing infrastructure of art education.

This panel taking place in Hong Kong can to be considered a “satellite” of ‘Infra-School’, in which concerns on what art does is shared and mediated through conversation and discussion. In particular it considers art as a form of knowledge, and the biennale as a site of knowledge production in which art plays a central role. All participants of the panel must therefore, anchor their presentations and response on one art work/ project.