The Gwangju Biennale Has Abolished Its Park Seo-Bo Art Prize After Just One Edition Amid Protests

The Gwangju Biennale artwork prize named after Dansaekhwa grasp Park Seo-Bo has been cancelled after handing out its first award only a month in the past amid protests that the artist had little to do with an occasion that was constructed upon the South Korean metropolis’s pro-democracy spirit.

“The Gwangju Biennale Park Seo-Bo Art Prize is discontinued,” stated a spokesperson of the Gwangju Biennale Foundation, organizers of the highest biennial in Asia, in a press release to Artnet News on Thursday.

“In response to opposition to the Gwangju Biennale Park Seo-Bo Art Prize that has emerged lately, the Gwangju Biennale Foundation sought numerous opinions from the artwork group relating to the award’s subsequent operational plans and continued discussions with [Park’s] GIZI Foundation.”

Oum Jeongsoon, Elephant Without Trunk (2023). Winner of the primary (and final) Park Seo Bo Art Prize on the 14th Gwangju Biennale, 2023. Courtesy the artist and Gwangju Biennale Foundation. Photo: glimworkers.

The information emerged on Wednesday when the 91-year-old Park wrote on his Instagram that he has reached the settlement with the biennale basis to abolish the artwork prize, which was established primarily based upon the $1 million donation he made through his GIZI Foundation. The sum is being divided into 10 awards of $100,000 for the following 10 editions. The basis additionally announced to the worldwide press on the identical day that it has appointed French author and curator Nicolas Bourriaud because the inventive director for subsequent yr’s fifteenth version, with out mentioning the abolishing of the artwork prize.

“The Gwangju Biennale is cluttered with the Park Seo-Bo Art Prize problem. Since it was introduced in February final yr, there was adequate time to gather opinions. Had there been plenty of objections, I’d have discovered one other answer,” the artist wrote in his Instagram post, translated from Korean into English.

Objection to the award, nevertheless, was not the obvious till the opening night time of the 14th version of Gwangju Biennale on April 6. A small scuffle broke out in the course of the opening ceremony when a protester chanted slogans and distributed flyers calling for the abolishment of the artwork prize because it “tarnishes the Gwangju spirit.”

Gwangju Biennale was based as an initiative to commemorate the 1980 Gwangju Uprising towards the army regime and the bloodbath. The institution of the award was in-line with organizers’ ambition of additional enhancing the occasion’s standing as Asia’s reply to Venice Biennale. The exhibition will have fun its fifteenth anniversary subsequent September.

Gwangju Biennale 2023

Gwangju Biennale 2023 exhibition corridor. Photo: Vivienne Chow.

But protesters accused Park of “stealing” the biennial with the $1 million donation because the artist remained silent amid the nation’s many years of political wrestle whereas pursuing his artwork. “He was an intensive aesthetic modernist who lived for his private glory,” protesters stated within the flyer, calling the organizers to ascertain different prizes reminiscent of one named after the late artist Oh Yoon, a key determine of Korea’s Minjung artwork motion (People’s Art) within the Eighties, or pioneering media artist Nam June Paik.

The protester was shortly escorted out of venue and Park, in a wheelchair, handed the prize to South Korean artist Oum Jeongsoon, who was chosen as a winner for her set up work Elephant Without Trunk (2023), featured in the principle exhibition titled “Soft and Weak Like Water” curated by the Tate Modern’s senior curator Sook-Kyung Lee.

“It is regrettable that the issue was raised on the day of the occasion,” the artist continued, including that it had been his goals to supply help for the youthful era. “I feel I must proceed with my final dream differently.”

The Gwangju Biennale Foundation stated it would attempt to “set up a extra progressive award system” after soliciting opinions from varied communities. The cash donated by Park, excluding the $100,000 prize cash that was already handed out, might be returned to the GIZI Foundation, the Gwangju Biennale Foundation stated.

The Gwangju Biennale runs by means of July 9.

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