Gwangju Biennale 2018

Jungju An & Sojung Jun (Black Night)
Maelee Lee 
Mire Lee
Nestori Syrjälä 
Elina Vainio 

Mugaksa Temple, Gwangju
September 7– November 11, 2018 

HIAP – Helsinki International Artist Programme participates in the Gwangju Biennale 2018 Pavilion Project with the exhibition Fictional Frictions. Located at the Mugaksa Temple and curated by Jenni Nurmenniemi, the exhibition consists of three new commissions and two context-specific iterations of recent artworks by South Korean and Finnish artists: Jungju An & Sojung Jun (Black Night), Maelee Lee, Mire Lee, Nestori Syrjälä and Elina Vainio. Their installations open up spaces for questioning many imagined borders: namely those between the past and the present, individual and collective, micro- and macrocosm. In subtle dialogue with the architecture and surroundings of the temple, the artworks form poetic-political entanglements that highlight co-dependencies and continuums instead of ruptures, breaks, and clearly defined boundaries.

The questions that bring these works of art into co-existence have to do with entangled loops of personal and collective histories. Through diverse material agencies, instead of emphasising conventional narrative strategies, they pose questions on how it is possible to relate to collectively and historically significant events or come to terms with massive transformations that are happening at present, on the level of personal perception and experience?

The juxtaposition of human and geological timescales—and by looking into how beings compose, or become to represent, larger patterns and entities—are critical undercurrents of the exhibition. Throughout it, the personal and affective are inseparably intertwined with the collective and structural aspects of life – mediated by diverse forms of artistic language.

Black Night (Jungju An & Sojung Jun): ‘Mountain of delusion’, 2018.

Mire Lee: ‘every joint every spine every end’ (2018), steel, silicone, PVC hoses, grease, and other mixed media, kinetic sculpture, 30 x 60 x 260 cm (dimensions vary).

Nestori Syrjälä, Stele (2016), Sculpture series, car side windows, rocks, dimensions variable.

Elina Vainio: ‘Denuded’ (2018), installation, sand, modeling clay, cloth, cling film, glue, 340 x 510 cm.

Maelee Lee: ‘Time of Earth’s Strata’, 2018.

All photographs by Doyoun Kim.


Located in the 5.18 Memorial Park, Mugaksa is an urban Buddhist Temple of Jogye Order. The temple is also a centre for cultural activities without any religious barriers. It hosts a book cafe and gallery, as well as a traditional tea house. The temple is also known as a supporter of young artists from the region.

The 12th edition of Gwangju Biennale with the theme ‘Imagined Borders’ will present 153 artists from 41 different countries in a series of seven exhibitions spread across the city. The inaugural edition of Gwangju Biennale Pavilion Project features exhibitions by HIAP – Helsinki International Artist Programme, Palais de Tokyo, and Philippine Contemporary Art Network.

2018 Gwangju Biennale Pavilion Project_HIAP is realised by HIAP – Helsinki International Artist Programme at Mugaksa Temple in collaboration with Frame Contemporary Art Finland and with the support of Ministry of Education and Culture, Finland and Embassy of Finland, Seoul.