Gwangju Folly II

Edited by Hans Ulrich Obrist

Gwangju Biennial


Curatorial Concept
The curatorial approach describes a folly as a critical object that oscillates between aesthetic autonomy and social-political potential. Situated in a field between a decontextualized status and contextualized condition the Gwangju Folly projects aim to readdress the contested question of public space.


The negotiation of public space in Gwangju has played a crucial role in the democratization of South Korea and has eventually become a global model and reference point for effective grass root political mobilization. During the May 18, 1980 Democratic Uprising the city center became an urban stage for public demonstrations that triggered political transformation in the country. Today, a multitude of commemorative plaques, signs and memorials mark historical sites of the uprising throughout Gwangju. In 2011, the Gwangju Uprising received global recognition through UNESCO who included the movement into the UNESCO Memory of the World Register.


Instead of understanding public space as a mere question of preservation, the project aims to use the Gwangju Folly project as an investigative frame to examine the present day constitution of spatial practice ? in contemporary Gwangju as well as in a global arena. The project will feature several artists, architects, writers and collectives from diverse contexts. Expanding select locations across the city, Gwangju Folly will present new commissions this year. The physical manifestations of the project will be accompanied by a symposium, several workshops and a publication.