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Busan Biennale features the city’s unique site

Posted October. 26, 2020 07:57,   

Updated October. 26, 2020 07:57


A situation that is quite different from ordinary days was unfolded in Jungang-dong in Busan’s Jung-gu district on Saturday and Sunday. The site, filled with alleys centered around “40 Steps,” that served as the venue for reunions of separated family during the Korean War was the place of refugees struggling for survival in the past, is now a place of ordinary people’s livelihood that is filled with mom and pop shops.

Then, a rare situation happened through these alleys. Director Kim Seon-jeong of the Gwangju Biennale and its delegation, the Seoul Media City Biennale team, Director Baik Ji-sook of the Seoul Metropolitan City Museum, and Director Yoon Beom-mo of the National Museum of Modern Act encountered and greeted with each other there. While most other biennales have been postponed until after the COVID-19 pandemic, representatives from major biennales flocked there to watch “Words at an Exhibition-an exhibition in 10 chapters and five poems” at the Busan Biennale 2020, which opened in September.

The situation reflected the intention of Jacob Fabricius, exhibition director for the biennale in the southern port city. Having been named the biennale’s director through open competition last year, Fabricius said he wished to focus on “urban space” in Busan soon after his inauguration as director. Fabricius searched a space for exhibition on foot while staying in Busan. Then, he was fascinated by the sight of Yeongdo Island that is linked through bridges from Jongang-dong, and decided to pick the site as venue for outdoor exhibition. As a result, audiences come to encounter not only artworks on display but also unique and great scenery of deep inside Busan.

“Generally if a stranger visits Busan, they come to visit mostly developed areas, and this site is attractive because it reveals unique character of Busan rather than standardized space,” a leader in the art community said.

Min Kim kimmin@donga.com