Installation artists give Busan parks a makeover

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Installation artists give Busan parks a makeover

The first Busan Biennale is rapidly transforming this port city of 4 million into a gallery, and just in time for the Asian Games. Most of the works are being displayed outdoors, complementing the city's festive atmosphere.

Some 126 artists and architects from 36 countries have come to Busan to present their visions of artistic trends in the 21st century. The Biennale's three exhibitions are organized around the theme "Culture Meets Culture."

The main part of the Biennale is the Contemporary Art Exhibition, which is being held at Busan's Metropolitan Art Museum near the BEXCO Convention Center. The exhibition, called "Urbanity," expresses the artists' interpretation of their immediate surroundings, particularly through their contact with consumer culture and the mass media.

The exhibition hall has been transformed into a kind of city, with streets, markets, a school, museum, cemetery and suburbs. The works in "Urbanity" are meant to address daily life in cities, spiced with the fertile imaginations and fantasies of the artists and architects who include Busan-born Koreans, Europeans and Asian emigres living in France. The works are intended to provide a better understanding of urban living.

The Biennale's Sea Art Festival component features a variety of artwork along a 1.5 kilometer stretch of Haeundae Beach. Thirty-five Korean and international artists created the installation works and are conducting performance art on the beach.

Organizers say the works harmonize with the marine environment, with some being displayed high on the beach, while others are closer or even floating on the water.

The Biennale's third component, the Busan Sculpture Project, is an open-air exhibition near the main stadium for the Busan Asiad. Thirty artists from 30 countries are displaying works made out of stone, iron and concrete.

The Busan Biennale grew out of a series of local events. The Contemporary Art Exhibition, for example, is the outgrowth of the Busan Young Biennale, which was first staged in 1981 and was limited to artists under the age of 35. The Contemporary Art Exhibition has no age limit with the hopes that it will foster the meeting of artists and architects from diverse backgrounds.


The Sea Art Festival ends Oct. 27. The Contemporary Art Exhibition and International Open-air Sculpture Symposium run until Nov. 17. Tickets for the Contemporary Art Exhibition cost 7,000 won ($6). Admission is free for both the Sea Art Festival and the Busan Sculpture Project. For more information, visit the Busan Biennale's Web site at www.busanbiennale.org.


by Inēs Cho

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