In its 11th year, the 2018 Busan Biennale unites artists under the paradoxical banner “Divided We Stand”.

The exhibition, organised by Cristina Ricupero and Jörg Heiser, is poised to confront political, cultural, technological and narrative divisions.

Mina Cheon (Kim Il Soon), 'Umma Rises: Towards Global Peace', 2017, Yves Klein Blue Dip painting. Image courtesy the artist and Busan Biennale.

Mina Cheon (Kim Il Soon), ‘Umma Rises: Towards Global Peace’, 2017, Yves Klein Blue Dip painting. Image courtesy the artist and Busan Biennale.

The Busan Biennale has released details about this year’s exhibition, titled “Divided We Stand”, which will be held from 8 September to 11 November 2018 at Museum of Contemporary Art Busan and the former Bank of Korea building. The executive director of the show’s organising committee, Choi Tae Man, has announced that the event will feature the work of 60 artists, each responding to varying categories of division. Projects are set to probe at systems of control, the global political climate, international exchange and the obstruction of information. According to a statement issued by the biennale,

the focus of the exhibition is not just on the documentary of fictional responses artists have made to [the issues addressed by the exhibition]. Crucially, it looks at how souls are inspired, or haunted, by these political divisions.

Artistic Director of the 2018 Busan Biennale, Cristina Ricupero. Image courtesy Busan Biennale.

Artistic Director of the 2018 Busan Biennale, Cristina Ricupero. Image courtesy Busan Biennale.

The reveal of this year’s theme comes after an earlier announcement of the biennale’s creative team. The selected artistic director, Cristina Ricupero, will be working alongside curator and writer Jörg Heiser, bringing to Busan a band of international perspectives and innovative minds. Ricupero has herself been an active independent curator with close ties to the South Korean art world, having served as European section commissioner for the Gwangju Biennale in 2006 and as a curatorial adviser for the SeMA Biennale Mediacity Seoul in 2016. Her most notable projects include “Nuit Blanche Monaco”, which she curated with Heiser in 2016, and the “The Crime Was Almost Perfect”, hosted by the Witte de With Centre for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam.

Jörg Heiser, who works as part of a team with Ricupero, has been chosen as the 2018 Biennale curator. An active player in contemporary art writing and curation since 1998, Heiser now serves as an editor of the London-based global art magazine frieze and has been a regular contributor to Süddeutsche Zeitung. His background in art history and philosophy, particularly in the context of European art and literature, will offer the Busan Biennale a surprising outside assessment.

Ming Wong, still from 'Windows on the World (Part I)', 2014. Image courtesy the artist and Busan Biennale.

Ming Wong, still from ‘Windows on the World (Part I)’, 2014. Image courtesy the artist and Busan Biennale.

The title of the Busan Biennale 2018 does not offer up any unconditional positivity or romantic expectation for the future; nor does it leave potential visitors pondering the apocalyptic, hopeless void that many of today’s headlines do. “Divided We Stand” is but a manifestation of one’s determination to face reality and to look at the blind spots that territorial – and theoretical – divisions have produced. The concise thematic focus of this Biennale is further a proposal by Ricupero and Heiser to abandon the “megalomania of too many venues, artists and sub-themes” that have trademarked many large-scale exhibitions in recent years.

Among those tackling this premise are Mina Cheon, Smardar Dreyfus, Mauricio Dias and Walter Riedweg, Min Jeong Seo, Lim Minouk, Henrike Naumann and Ming Wong. The full artist list will be announced in a short while.

Maurício Dias & Walter Riedweg, still from 'Cold Stories', 2014. Image courtesy Busan Biennale.

Maurício Dias & Walter Riedweg, still from ‘Cold Stories’, 2014. Image courtesy Busan Biennale.

Unlike the previous editions, the upcoming Busan Biennale will host “Divided We Stand” at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Busan, located on the island of Eulsukdo, and at the former Bank of Korea, Busan. The two venues will reflect two main aspects of the Biennale’s theme: while at the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Cold War era and its uncanny return in the present is the main focus, at the Bank of Korea, “alternate futurist scenarios” will unfold, looking at current states of being and detachedness through prisms of fiction and speculative science.

Megan Miller

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The 11th Busan Biennale will run from 8 September to 11 November 2018 at the Museum of Contemporary Art Busan and the former Bank of Korea building.

Related topics: biennalescurators, news, connecting Asia to itself, events in Korea

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Brittney

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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