Wednesday, November 02, 2011
The South Korean city has commissioned the first of a series of 100 pavilions with which it plans to reassert its historic urban form
Since the Venice Biennale was first held in 1895, the phenomenon of the two-yearly art fair has rapidly spread throughout the world, mutating over time from an exhibition into an expedient means of fusing cultural capital with city marketing. From Shanghai to Sharjah, Beijing to Bucharest, the biennale has become a must-have accessory for any self-respecting global city, injecting the risqué edginess of the art world into the tired tourist offer.
These imported art extravaganzas have more recently been joined by sister design versions. This autumn alone has seen such design festivals in Lisbon and London, Paris and Prague, as well as Brussels, Beijing, Copenhagen, Eindhoven, Helsinki and the Polish city of Lodz — with Istanbul joining the crowd next year. Bringing a whirlwind of exhibits, talks, workshops and debates, these design-world caravanserais come and go, but rarely leave the city with a lasting legacy or meaningful engagement beyond the envelope of the conference centre or exhibition tent.
In Gwangju, South Korea’s sixth-largest city, which has boasted an art biennale since 1995 and sees its fourth design biennale this year, the organisers have attempted to steer the momentum of the fleeting fair towards something a little more permanent...
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Originally published in BD, 2 November 2011