Gwangju Biennale Foundation and Hyundai Tate Research Centre: Transnational are pleased to announce the 14th Gwangju Biennale’s symposium Confluences: Stories of Art and the Planetary taking place on 7 and 8 April 2023.
Entitled soft and weak like water, the biennale lends its title from a chapter of a Daoist text, Dao De Jing. By thinking through the restorative potential of water as a metaphor, force, and method, it proposes to imagine our planet as a site of resistance, coexistence, solidarity and care.
Expanding on these themes, the symposium will centre artistic voices engaged in alternative models and practices that imagine other ways of knowing and of existing together. Indeed, as a biennale that features 79 artists with over 40 new works and commissioned projects, the programme invites artists to speak directly to their own practices.
Structured across three panels entitled Source, Undercurrents, and Estuaries, the first day will feature artist presentations and talks which touch on issues related to world-making, contested spaces and memories, shared and collective histories, as well as collaborative and community-engaged artistic practices.
The second day will feature a keynote lecture presented by scholar and writer Macarena Gómez-Barris whose work sits at the intersection of art, environment, queer feminist politics, and decolonial theory and praxis. This will be followed by a roundtable which will bring together the seemingly distinct stories across the programme and discuss them rather as interconnected entanglements. In doing so, the symposium seeks to address the fluid relationality of our planetary issues by emphasizing these transnational artistic narratives.

■ Confluences: Stories of Art and the Planetary

  • - Date: 7-8 April, 2023
  • - Location: Geosigi Hall(Gwangju Biennale Conference Hall), Gwangju Biennale Exhibition Hall
  • - Free registration with biennale ticket
  • - Limit 150 people (online pre-registration required)


Day 1 – 7 April, 2023
09:30-10:00 (30’) Welcome Yangwoo Park, President, Gwangju Biennale Foundation
Frances Morris, Director, Tate Modern
10:00-10:15 (15’) Introduction Sook-Kyung Lee, 14th Gwangju Biennale artistic director
10:15-12:00 (105’)

Panel1 – Source: Artistic Activation

This panel explores how artmaking relates to world-making and how creative impulses are manifested in the subjective. While having their own individual artistic languages, these artists demonstrate how their practices also relate to shared histories and collective experiences.

- Speaker: Hera Büyüktaşçıyan, Yuki Kihara, Guadalupe Maravilla, David Zink Yi, Judy Watson
- Moderator: Hera Chan
12:00-13:30 (90’) Lunch
13:30-15:00 (90‘)

Panel2 – Undercurrents: Ambiguous Narratives

This panel highlights artistic practices that are purposefully subjective yet resonating with larger social and historic factors. The discussion looks at the ways in which these artists have continued their work in specific local contexts and in relation to wider cultural narratives.

- Speaker: Chang Jia, Hong Lee Hyun Sook, Lee Seung Ae, and Oh Suk Kunh
- Moderator: Sooyoung Leam
15:00-15:30 (30’) Comfort Break
15:30-17:15 (105’)

Panel3 - Estuaries: Navigating Boundaries

This panel looks at how artists have navigated, questioned and challenged dominant systems and established narratives. In working with alternative models, the discussion also highlights collaborative, research-based and community-engaged artistic approaches.

- Speaker: Aliza Nisenbaum, Meiro Koizumi, Taus Makhacheva and Abbas Akhavan
- Moderator: Harry C. H. Choi
17:30-18:00 (30’)

Performance – Buhlebezwe Siwani


Gwangju Biennale Exhibition Hall Gallery 1
Day 2 – 8 April, 2023
09:30-10:00 (30’)

Performance – Noé Martínez


Gwangju Biennale Exhibition Hall Gallery 3
10:10-10:15 (5’) Welcome and Introduction Sook-Kyung Lee, 14th Gwangju Biennale artistic director
10:15-11:15 (60’)

Keynote Lecture

In a series of decompositions, or forms of of unwriting the anthropocene, Macarena Gomez-Barris invites reflection on the changing role of knowledge, artistic practice,and climate futures through addressing what it means to study and make art from the sea's edge. The focus on sea edges offers micro and submerged perspectives against and within the logics of conquest, apartheid, and extraction that organize and disorganize a climate changing world.

- Keynote Lecture: Macarena Gómez-Barris
- Moderator: Odessa Warren
11:15-11:45 (30’) Comfort Break
11:45-13:15 (90’)

Tributaries: Together in Separate Ways

This artist roundtable will explore the thematic threads flowing across the programme to ask how we can think together to address current planetary crises with and through art. The discussion will touch on notions of the public and collective, solidarity and friendship, community and ecology, as well as multiple and separate epistemologies.

- Moderator: Ming Tiampo


Day 1 – 7 April, 2023
Panel1 – Source: Artistic Activation
Speaker Hera Büyüktaşcıyan is an artist living and working in Istanbul. In her multidisciplinary practice, Büyüktaşcıyan explores ways in which memory, identity, and spaces are shaped by deeply ingrained yet constantly evolving histories. The artist often references mythology and architectural structures, closely observing their genealogies and the ways in which they change over time.
Yuki Kihara is an artist of Japanese and Sāmoan descent whose interdisciplinary work challenges singular, historical narratives and the false divides that they have perpetuated. Kihara’s deep knowledge of the intersectionality between art, post-colonialism, race, gender, sexuality, and climate change has seen her work presented and acquired by museums around the world.
Guadalupe Maravilla is an artist born in San Salvador and currently living in New York. At the age of eight, Irvin Morazan (now known as Guadalupe Maravilla) was part of the first wave of unaccompanied, undocumented children to arrive at the United States border because of the Salvadoran Civil War in the 1980s. In 2016, he became an American citizen and adopted the name Guadalupe Maravilla in solidarity with his undocumented father, who uses Maravilla as his last name. Today he is a transdisciplinary visual artist, choreographer, and healer. Combining pre-colonial Central American ancestry, personal mythology, and collaborative performative acts, Maravilla’s sculptures, drawings, and performances trace the history of his own, and others’, displacement.
David Zink Yi is an artist whose works are grounded in working with the hands–about the relationship of the body to the object, and the spirit playing with fantasy. This direct, resolute approach to materials stems from Zink Yi’s background. Born in Lima, Peru, in 1973, he grew up with his Chinese grandfather who ran a tannery and also had an impressive collection of Chinese ceramics at home, which was a source of great fascination for Zink Yi as a child. Zink Yi decided to go to Germany for his studies, and he first trained as a cook, before studying wood sculpture in Munich and visual arts in Berlin.
Judy Watson is an artist who explores the history of First Nations communities in Australia through paintings, drawings, and sculptures. Using historical artefacts and documents that evidence the systemic discrimination against First Nations communities, Watson has developed an artistic practice that engages with the collective memory of repression that her people have undergone over many years. By turning to historically charged motifs such as water, blood, skin, and poison, the artist embeds Indigenous epistemic structures as a fundamental component of her work.
Moderator Hera Chan is Adjunct Curator of Greater China, Supported by the Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation, at Tate. With Alvin Li, her work at Tate engages with artistic practice from the Asia-Pacific with a focus on the effect of developmentalist policy. Previously, she was co-producer of KomBIJ1 TV, co-founder and curator of platform Miss Ruthless International in Hong Kong, and founding director of para-institution Atelier Céladon in Montreal. In 2022, Chan was a grantee of The Andy Warhol Arts Writers Grant and is a forthcoming Research Resident at MMCA Changdong.
Panel2 – Undercurrents: Ambiguous Narratives
Speaker Jia Chang is an artist living and working in Seoul. Her subject of interest is the socially banned, which she mainly expressed through the body. She has explored this subject through diverse media including performance, video, installation, and photography. Her work explores the private and the sensorial by revealing secretive parts of the body, instincts, and desire, thereby disrupting conventional ideas, custom, and social regulations. She has challenged social taboos through intense works that deal with bodily secretion or sexual subjects and those about pain and pleasure in the form of torture.
Hong Lee Hyun Sook is an artist living and working in Seoul. She uses various media to create work that addresses a free, subjective body that challenges patriarchal society and its gaze by using various media. She works with installations, performances, and video art, pursuing ‘doing art together’. Her experimental plans and projects bring beings who are marginalised by social structures, along with fauna and flora, into the realm of visual art.
Seung Ae Lee is an artist living and working in Seoul. She creates drawings, animations, and installations that seek to capture immaterial elements such as emotions, light, and sound. Merging recognisable objects and spaces with inexplicable, abstract patterns and shapes, Lee produces fantastical compositions that hover between reality and fiction. Her animations, which are produced by connecting seemingly countless photographs of her drawings as they are repeatedly erased and worked on, provide an alternative means to visualise the artist’s imaginary realm. Almost exclusively working with graphite and paper, the artist’s practice is an experiment with the limitless possibilities of this familiar and humble medium.
Suk Kuhn Oh is an artist born and raised in Incheon who uses photography to record and represent personal memories of his hometown and other cities, entangled with the modern and contemporary history of Korea. On the one hand, he has investigated the relationship between individuals and national trauma, the power structure that formulated our memories, and pains and ideologies of Korea. On the other hand, he has examined layers of time and memories by focusing on the changes that have taken place in the interiors and exteriors of Japanese-style houses, regarding them as the remains of war, colonisation, modernisation, and industrialisation
Moderator Sooyoung Leam is Assistant Curator of the 14th Gwangju Biennale. She is also an independent curator and art historian based in Seoul, Korea. Recently a co-curator of MaytoDay, part of Gwangju Biennale Foundation’s May 18 special exhibition project, she was also assistant curator at Shanghai Project and curated exhibitions at such venues a ASEAN Culture House.
Panel3 - Estuaries: Navigating Boundaries
Speaker Aliza Nisembaum is an artist living and working in New York. She employs focused attention when creating her observational portraiture, building connections with her subjects. She collaborates with distinct communities on various levels, sharing resources, skills, and ultimately social representation. Her lengthy engagement with her subjects allows her to understand their histories and dignity. Often lushly decorated with textiles and props found in her sitters’ homes or workplaces, her paintings make visible the material conditions, friendships, and alliances of their work and leisure environments.
Meiro Koizumi is a video and performing artist based in Yokohama, Japan. He has built a compelling body of work that deals with power dynamics on scales from the familial to the national, and examines questions of political and psychological control. He often works with video installations that are based on collaborative performances and constructed scenarios. By implicating himself, his performers, and the viewer through choreographed emotional manipulations, Koizumi investigates the boundaries between the private and the public, a domain of importance to the Japanese culture.
Taus Makacheva is an artist living and working in Moscow and Dubai. In her sculptures, performances, and videos, she examines the tension between tradition and modernity, as well as notions of truth, authenticity, and cultural assimilation following the Sovietisation of Dagestan, to where the artist traces her roots. Oftentimes marked by a sense of irony or satire, her projects interweave historical archives, cultural artefacts, and personal narratives with imaginative elements that bring her work into the realm of fantasy. Merging her interest in the collective memories of the Dagestan region with contemporary inventions such as superheroes and ASMR, Makhacheva destabilises the edifices and symbols of the Empire and its connection to patriarchy and patrimony.
Abbas Akhavan is an artist living and working in Montreal. Through a variety of media including drawings, sculptures, video, installations, and performance, he reveals the historical, social, and architectural conditions of the sites of his exhibitions. His practice is rooted in disclosing the ways in which everyday environments could generate uncanny juxtapositions of conflicting affects, such as hostility and hospitality. Whereas his earlier work focused on the potentiality of domestic spaces, his recent work concentrates on landscapes that are immediately adjacent to the home, such as the garden or the backyard.
Moderator Harry C. H. Choi is Assistant Curator of the 14th Gwangju Biennale. He is also an independent curator and critic based in San Francisco, USA and Seoul, Korea. He held curatorial fellowships at the Museum of Modern Art, New York and Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago and writes regularly for such publications as Artforum and Texte zur Kunst.
Performance Buhlebezwe Siwani is an artist living and working between Amsterdam and Cape Town. Her artistic practice is often informed by ancestral rituals and the relationship between Christianity and African spirituality as an initiated sangoma, a spiritual healer who works within the space of the dead and the living. Central to her work is her own body, which operates as subject, object, form, medium, material, language, and site as she interrogates the patriarchal framing of the black female experience within the South African context
Day 2 – 8 April, 2023
Performance Noé Martínez is an artist living and working in Mexico City. Working across painting, sculpture, video, and installation, Noé Martínez reveals the ongoing significance of the colonial history of his native Mexico and disappearing Indigenous cultures of the region. By evoking such historical events as the enslavement of African people by Spanish colonisers and his own lived experiences as a person of Huastec descent, Martínez evokes the prolonged layers of collective trauma experienced by the people of Mexico and prompts an alternate interpretation of history shaped by Western worldviews.
Keynote Lecture
Keynote Lecture Macarena Gómez-Barris is a writer and a scholar and is the author of At the Sea’s Edge (Forthcoming Duke University Press). She is currently completing a work of fiction, and a second book on water. She is author of Beyond the Pink Tide: Art and Political Undercurrents (2018), The Extractive Zone: Social Ecologies and Decolonial Perspectives (2017), Where Memory Dwells: Culture and State Violence in Chile (2010), and has published in GLQ, Social Text, and E-Fluxas well as dozens of other venues. She is Timothy C. Forbes and Anne S. Harrison University Professor, and Chair of the Department of Modern Culture and Media at Brown University.
Moderator Odessa Warren is a curator based in London. She is currently Assistant Curator, International Art, Hyundai Tate Research Centre: Transnational at Tate Modern. Recently, she curated the solo exhibition of artist Dala Nasser entitled Time Spent Without its Flow at V.O. Curations in London. She has previously worked with Beirut Art Centre, The Palestinian Museum, Forensic Architecture and the Palestinian Oral History Archive.
Moderator Ming Tiampo is Professor of Art History and co-director of the Centre for Transnational Cultural Analysis at Carleton University. A curator of exhibitions and public engagement, she co-curated Gutai: Splendid Playground at the Guggenheim Museum in New York (2013), and she is one of the co-leads of Worlding Public Cultures, a transnational forum for research exchange, Asia Forum for the Contemporary Art of Global Asias, a peripatetic discursive platform, and an associate member of ici Berlin, an interdisciplinary public-facing research institute. A specialist in transnational modernisms, she wrote Gutai: Decentering Modernism (University of Chicago Press, 2011), and is interested in comparative diasporas, examining histories of migration post-Empire with an emphasis on artists from Asia, Africa, and Latin America from the former French and British Empires. She is the author of Jin-me Yoon: Life and Work (Art Canada Institute, 2022). Her current book projects include Transversal Modernism/s: The Slade School of Fine Art, a monograph which reimagines transcultural intersections through global microhistory, and Intersecting Modernisms, a collaborative sourcebook on global modernisms. Tiampo is a member of the Hyundai Tate Research Centre: Transnational Advisory Board.