Jul 14 2017

Kim Sun-jung Appointed President of the Gwangju Biennale Foundation

by Jia Dong

Kim Sun-jung now heads the Gwangju Biennale Foundation. Courtesy the Gwangju Biennale Foundation.

On Thursday, July 13, Kim Sun-jung spoke at her first press conference as president of the Gwangju Biennale Foundation (GBF) at the Biennale Hall in Gwangju, located in southwestern Korea. Fifty-two-year-old Kim has been appointed to serve as president of the Foundation for a three-year term.

The Gwangju Biennale was first launched in 1995, and aims to provide a consistent, dynamic artistic platform in Korea for local and international artists. In each iteration of the biennial, the Foundation bolsters its theme-based exhibitions and accompanying program—including academic seminars, film screenings and reading groups—encouraging participants and visitors to develop new ideas about their cultural identities. The GBF also facilitates communication and cooperation for stakeholders in Korean visual art culture, and has established the biennial as one of East Asia’s key art events. In an email interview with ArtAsiaPacific, Kim said that she aims to develop the Gwangju Biennale as “a platform for learning and connecting with local and global audiences by utilizing different approaches and disciplines.”

The biennial made waves due to the censorship of a satirical painting of former Korean president Park Geun-hye in 2014, leading to the resignation of Yongwoo Lee, who was president of GBF at the time. With this and other controversies unfolding in the Korean art scene, such as the fallout from the revelation that thousands of cultural figures were blacklisted by the Park administration, Kim must face a series of challenges as she takes the reins at GBF.

Kim Sun-jung is the current director of the Art Sonje Center in Seoul, which mounts some of the most ambitious contemporary exhibition programs in South Korea. Previously she served as co-director of the 2012 Gwangju Biennale, which carried the theme “Roundtable” and had 92 participating artists hailing from 40 countries. Kim was also the artistic director of Mediacity Seoul 2010, and commissioned the Korean Pavilion at the 2005 Venice Biennale. 

Jia Dong is an editorial intern at ArtAsiaPacific.

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