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Busan Biennale to triumph in 2020

The 2020 Busan Biennale, the latest edition of the city's biennial modern and visual arts festival, is scheduled to be held from Sept. 5 to Nov. 8 at the Museum of Contemporary Art Busan, Jung-gu (district), the old downtown area (wondoshim), Eulseukdo Island and Yeongdo. Safety measures will be put in place as the city works to ensure that the art scene remains vibrant. 


8-3-20
△Cite Your Sources by Mandy EL-SAYEGH (2019) 


"Words at an Exhibition - An Exhibition In Ten Chapters and Five Poems" is this year's theme. The festival will invite 90 artists from 34 countries, including 11 writers, 68 visual artists and 11 sound artists. The Busan Biennale will begin with literature and will expand into other forms of art as it highlights what makes Busan so special. Every aspect of the city, from its places to its people, will be represented through new and dynamic artistic expression. 


Novelists, poets, visual artists and musicians from all over the world will showcase their art to visitors of the event. Much of the art will have already been complete, but some will be made on the spot. Published authors and writers will present their work, which will then be given to the visual artists and musicians to be used as a creative starting point for new art pieces, which will in turn be presented to the festival's visitors. 


As the event's home city, Busan will be featured thematically and prominently throughout the duration of the festival. The wongdoshim, Yoengdo and Eulsukdo Island will set a historic stage for artists to provide art in sight, sound and word. Exhibitions will be held everywhere, including the city's 40 Stairs, the Busan Modern History Museum, traditional markets, Yeongdodaegyo Bridge and other famous sites. 


To prevent the spread of COVID-19 in any way possible, the Biennale will limit the number of venues and will introduce virtual reality (VR) exhibitions. Since video works account for 30 percent of the 220 art pieces, the organizing committee has been preparing extensive use of VR exhibitions. Additionally, while art will be displayed around the city, 80 percent of the entries will be at the Museum of Contemporary Art Busan. VR displays will be available in the event of closure of public cultural facilities, which will render seeing art pieces impossible. In this case, VR exhibitions will be ready to view in the middle of September. 


The organizing committee has also decided that the opening ceremony will be held online. It will introduce a pre-booking system for all tickets. The number of visitors, which had been set at 2,000 per day, will also be cut by half. 


Although COVID-19 is providing the Biennale's largest challenge since the event's inception, the organizers are ready to express how essential art is in these difficult, modern times. 


Formerly known as the Pusan International Contemporary Art Festival, the Busan Biennale has been held as an international contemporary art exhibition every other year since the Busan Youth Biennale, Korea's first such festival, was created by local artists in 1981. The innovative festival combined other events, including the Busan International Sea Art Festival in 1987 and the Symposium of Open Air Sculptures in 1998 and is the only festival in the world that combines events of these kinds. 


The Busan Biennale is a highly significant event that is not to be missed. The international network formed through the event has played a leading role in the development of local culture as a global one while introducing and expanding domestic art overseas.