Craft Biennale poster
By Cathy Rose A. Garcia
The 6th Cheongju International Craft Biennale, touted as the world's largest, is counting down to its opening in September. The event may have been overshadowed by the more famous biennales in Gwangju or Busan in previous years, but organizers are hoping to create more buzz this year.
Director Dr. Lee Ihn-bum is promising to shake things up this time around.
``Over the past 10 years, Korea has been awash in a wave of numerous sorts of exhibition biennales, hosted by various municipalities in a race to compete for the national spotlight. Out of this chaotic confusion sprang a clear and urgent message that the definitions of the following words, `international,' `craft,' and `biennale' need to be re-examined. The message I would like to share with the visitors of the biennale is a hope for the Cheongju Biennale 2009 to serve as a model for future biennales to come,'' Lee said.
More than 158 artists from 25 countries are participating in the biennale, which runs from Sept. 23 to Nov. 1 at the Cheongju Arts Center and various locations around the city.
Unlike other events in Korea that mostly invite Korean artists, Lee wants to make the Cheongju biennale truly international by inviting more foreign artists.
The theme for this year's event is ``Outside the Box.'' It hopes to showcase works that re-establish connections between art, design, technology and the environment.
``To think `outside the box' is to transcend spurious divisions through the human faculty of imagination. In newly merged artistic and managerial discourses, `outside the box' is where innovation is to be found. But it is also where a state of integration becomes attainable, where meetings become possible. Craft is integration with nature, with others, with its collective self. It therefore has the power to unite and represent all human values,'' Lee said.
The biennale is divided into two main exhibitions, ``Pressing Matter'' and ``Dissolving Views,'' alongside community arts program ``The River Within Us, The Sea All Around Us.''
Curated by Elaine Kim, deputy director of the World Jewellery Museum, Seoul, ``Pressing Matter'' has gathered a stimulating array of craft works featuring different materials from all over the world.
``The purpose is to demonstrate the variety of elements that meet in the work: the diverse perspectives of producer and consumer; youth and maturity; the egalitarian and the elite; the classical and the romantic; the developed and the developing world,'' organizers said.
Among the foreign artists participating in ``Pressing Matter'' are David Trubridge, Piet Stockmans, the Campana Brothers, Hella Jongerius, Julia Lohmann and Liv Blavarp.
For ``Dissolving Views,'' curator Kim Ju-won will take viewers beyond the concept of art as an object and towards ``the idea of craft as a living human impulse.'' The craft works are incorporated in performance art, music, theater, dance, film, poetry and prose.
The community art project ``The River within Us, The Sea All Around Us,'' curated by Kim Hyun-joo, is even more important as the debate over public art intensifies in Cheongju. Various works will be incorporated in public spaces around the city.
This year's guest pavilion features Canada. Various cultural and indigenous artifacts and crafts selected by the Canadian Crafts Federation will be on display.
Other events, such as the International Craft Competition, International Craft Fair, symposiums and educational programs, are being held on the sidelines of the biennale.
Visit www.cheongjubiennale.or.kr or call (43) 277-2501.