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Posted September. 25, 2006 07:04,   


In the 2006 Gwangju Biennale, 89 works by 127 artists from 32 different countries show that “Asian works of art are international.” The first chapter of the exhibition is entitled, “Trace Root: Unfolding Asian Stories” and the last part of the exhibition is entitled, “Trace Route: Remapping Global Sites”

The “Trace Root: Unfolding Asian Stories” section is popular among Korean visitors. A flower fixed to a 20 meter-tall needle is installed outside the exhibition hall. The work was made by Choi Jeong-hwa, a famous installation artist of Korea. Inside the exhibition hall, Michael Joo’s “Bodhi Obfuscatus (Space-Baby)” is displayed. This work won first prize in the 2006 Gwangju Biennale.

Michael Joo is a Korean-American artist. He has been expressing cultural identity studies in his works. One can easily find Asian elements in “Bodhi Obfuscatus” (Space-Baby). Several cameras, 24 monitors and more than 90 mirrors are installed around a Buddhist image.

Visitors can see that the images that appear on the mirror or the monitor look as if they are shattered. These shattered images show the collision between technology and traditional elements. Also, it expresses the confusion the artist, who was born and grew up in a high-tech country, had to go through while he tried to find out his roots.

Xu Bing, a Chinese artist based in New York, exhibited a famous acrylic work. “Background Story, 2004” that has two sides” The front side of the work is identical with a famous ancient artist’s work. However, the backside of the work is covered with branches, pine needles, knitting wool, and other various materials. It can be said that the front side of the work shows the traditional art while the backside shows the modern art, which employs almost everything in life as an artistic material.

At the second hall, “Waste Not” is exhibited. The work was made by a Chinese artist, Song Dong, who also was the first winner of this exhibition. The artist displayed all sorts of goods used and collected by his mother. It can be said that the books, medicines, boxes, closets, and many other things his mother did not throw away shows the history of China. However, the old-style articles show that those are rarely used in China now. It shows what kind of crisis China’s tradition is going through.

Between the second and third hall, Vietnam-based artist Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba’s work is displayed in the open air. If the visitors visit the site at the right time, they are able to see Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba’s performance, “Story of the Stars”

In his performance, he uses 26,000 Coca Cola and Pepsi bottles. During the performance, sixteen men dance and drink water out of those bottles. After that, they pee in the bottles. The performance is aimed at criticizing the corporate culture of America.

However, the last exhibition hall seems to be quite difficult to understand. It is said that this exhibition hall shows the perspective of the curator in charge. In this exhibition hall, the theme “Asia” suddenly changes to “anti-war and anti-America.” Most of the works are films and many visitors find it very hard to make sense out of it. The organizers of 2006 Gwangju Biennale are concerned about this part of the exhibition too. It is because there were many visitors who complained about the last exhibition hall. This kind of mistake should not be repeated two years later.