Highlights from the 13th Gwangju Biennale: “Minds Rising, Spirits Tuning”
By Andy St. Louis
After two postponements, the 13th Gwangju Biennale finally opened its doors to the public on April 1. Notably absent from the affair was any of the pageantry that typically accompanies the vernissage of Asia’s longest-running biennial—gone were the public programs and afterparties of the pre-pandemic era—which resulted in a rather subdued opening weekend. Notwithstanding, the exhibition itself offered viewers plenty of food for thought, with a spate of new commissions and a diverse lineup of participating artists. Helming this endeavor were artistic directors Defne Ayas and Natasha Ginwala, who assembled works by 69 artists from 40 countries to broadly explore the nature of intelligence under the guiding theme of “Minds Rising, Spirits Tuning.” This discursive purview sought to probe the spectrum of the extended mind, reconciling realms of spirituality, technology, and ecology with an emphasis on heterodox and communal systems of knowledge.