Gwangju Biennale – South Korea

Established in 1995 in memory of the pro-democracy movement of May 18, 1980, the Gwangju Biennale is one of Asia’s oldest and most prestigious contemporary art events. The Biennale is held every two years in Gwangju, a city located in the southwest region of South Korea.

The Gwangju Biennale takes place at the Gwangju Biennale Exhibition Hall and other locations around the city. It features artworks and installations from a wide range of mediums, including painting, sculpture, photography, film, performance, and digital art, from both local and international artists.

Each edition of the Biennale is centered around a theme that reflects upon contemporary social, political, and cultural issues. The artists are invited to interpret the theme in their unique artistic languages, resulting in a broad spectrum of artwork that both reflects and critiques contemporary society.

Over the years, the Gwangju Biennale has showcased the works of some of the world’s most acclaimed contemporary artists and emerging talents, enabling meaningful cultural exchange and fostering the global dialogue on contemporary art. The exhibition has been critical in shaping the region’s cultural landscape and boosting its international profile in the art world.

In addition to the main exhibition, the Biennale also includes an extensive program of symposiums, workshops, and performances that provide further insights into the artworks and the issues they explore. The Biennale’s educational program also offers guided tours, lectures, and hands-on art classes for children and adults.

The Gwangju Folly project is another fascinating feature of the Biennale. It invites architects and designers to create “follies” – unconventional, often whimsical architectural structures – that are installed in various locations across Gwangju, engaging with the city’s urban fabric and its residents.

How to get there:

International attendees can fly into Incheon International Airport near Seoul, the country’s main gateway, or directly into Gwangju Airport.

By Air: Incheon International Airport has connections with many cities worldwide. From Incheon, Gwangju can be reached via a domestic flight or by taking a direct bus or train. Gwangju Airport also serves several international destinations, mostly in China and Southeast Asia.

By Train: South Korea’s efficient high-speed rail system, the KTX, connects Gwangju with other major cities in South Korea, including Seoul, Busan, and Daegu. The KTX train ride from Seoul to Gwangju takes about 2.5 hours.

By Bus: Express buses to Gwangju leave from various locations in Seoul and other major cities. The journey from Seoul to Gwangju by bus takes approximately 4 hours.

Once in Gwangju, the Biennale Exhibition Hall can be reached via taxi, bus, or the Gwangju Subway. The city’s public transportation system is efficient and easy to use, making it straightforward to get around and explore other cultural sites during your visit.

The Gwangju Biennale is not just an art exhibition; it’s a celebration of creativity, a forum for cultural dialogue, and a symbol of Gwangju’s history and identity. Attending the Biennale offers a unique opportunity to engage with contemporary art and explore the vibrant culture and history of Gwangju.

"We all need art and music like we need blood and oxygen. The more exploitative, numbing, and assaulting popular culture becomes, the more we need the truth of a beautifully phrased song, dredged from a real person’s depth of experience, delivering in an honest voice… a sense of our universal humanity."

Rosanne Cash | Singer-songwriter and author

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