Seoul’s international biennale of new media art will feature 12 new works and participants from across Asia.

Mediacity Seoul 2014, taking place from 2 September to 23 November 2014, will present works by artists from East and Southeast Asia, as well as from the Arab region and the West. This year’s edition will also feature 12 new works, the largest number shown at the event to date.

Identity of SeMA Biennale Mediacity Seoul 2014. Image courtesy SeMA Biennale 2014.

Identity of SeMA Biennale Mediacity Seoul 2014 “Ghosts, Spies, and Grandmothers”. Image courtesy the artist and SeMA Biennale <Mediacity Seoul> 2014.

The SeMA Biennale <Mediacity Seoul>, also known as Seoul International Media Art Biennale, now in its eighth edition, is curated by Korean artist and filmmaker Park Chan-kyong. The theme of the 2014 biennale is “Ghosts, Spies, and Grandmothers”.

The exhibition, which is hosted by the Seoul Metropolitan Government and organised by the Seoul Museum of Art (SeMA), will feature twelve new works, the largest number of new artworks to be presented in the history of the biennale. The event this year also looks to expand on the notions of ‘Asia’ and the complexities of its reality, inviting artists from the Arab region and the West to participate alongside East Asian and Southeast Asian artists.

The organisers explain their vision of Asia in the press release:

The idea here is not to promote Asia as a lifeless or fixed entity, but to see it as a moving target, a cognitive lens, a region that is much more complex than its stereotypes. Toward these ends, artists from Arab and Western countries will also participate in the exhibition.

Among the participants in this year’s biennale are Dinh Q. Le, Ho Sin-Tung, The Propeller Group, Haegue Yang, Bae Young-whan, Yuichiro Tamura, Otty Widasari, Nilbar Güreş, Truong Cong Tung, Sean Snyder and others. The Biennale told Art Radar that at this stage more information about the artists is not available for disclosure as yet. The final list of participants will be announced in May 2014.

The Biennale held a pre-biennale series of workshops, conversations and talks and a pre-biennale exhibition in October-December 2013.

Truong Cong Tung, 'Magical Garden', 2012-2014, found photograph taken by the patients at "Magical Garden", Long An province, Vietnam. Image courtesy the artist and SeMA Biennale 2014.

Truong Cong Tung, ‘Magical Garden’, 2012-2014, found photograph taken by the patients at “Magical Garden”, Long An province, Vietnam. Image courtesy the artist and SeMA Biennale <Mediacity Seoul> 2014.

Ghosts, Spies and Grandmothers

The theme of “Ghosts, Spies, and Grandmothers” explores notions of history, tradition, technology, spirituality, mysticism and colonialism, among others.

Artists exploring the notion of “ghost”, capture scenes of the traditional and the modern colliding and negotiating with each other, through ideas of spiritualism, mysticism, rituals and visions.

The exhibition seeks to show how artists’ practices are similar to those of spies and how artists can reverse the meaning of “spy”, alluding to the history of colonialism and the Cold War in Asia, and the rise of Asian nationalisms brought about by wars, ideological witch-hunts and mutual distrust.

The Biennale aims to bring the potency of the “grandmother” image forth, which is often seen as irrelevant today. Least associated with politics, grandmothers have nonetheless experienced transformations through the ages, with colonialism and war. In Korea, they have for centuries been associated with the sacred, being the ones that rise early to pray for the family.

Che Onejoon, 'Mansudae Master Class', 2014, three-channel HD Video, duration: approx. 20 min. Image courtesy the artist and SeMA Biennale 2014.

Che Onejoon, ‘Mansudae Master Class’, 2014, three-channel HD Video, duration: approx. 20 min. Image courtesy the artist and SeMA Biennale <Mediacity Seoul> 2014.

More about Mediacity Seoul

The SeMA Biennale <Mediacity Seoul> was inaugurated in 2000 and is one of the few biennales in Asia that focus on new media art. Since its inception, the event has been promoting experimental and cutting-edge new media practices and developing cross-disciplinary discourses with contemporary science, philosophy and new technology. The biennale also aims to show the multitude of interests and ideas explored in the world of contemporary art. Curators of past editions of the biennale include Sunjung Kim, Wonil Rhee, Misook Song, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Jeremy Millar, Barbara London and Yuko Hasegawa.

C. A. Xuan Mai Ardia


Related Topics: biennales, new media art, Asian and Middle Eastern artists, events in Seoul

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By Brittney

Brittney is a writer, curator and contemporary art gallerist. Born in Singapore and based in New York City, Brittney maintains a deep interest in the contemporary art landscape of Southeast Asia. This is combined with an equally strong interest in contemporary art from the Asian diasporas, alongside the issues of identity, transmigration and global relations.

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