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Natasha Ginwala and Defne Ayas. Photo: Victoria Tomaschko.

Gwangju Biennale Appoints Defne Ayas and Natasha Ginwala Artistic Directors of Thirteenth Edition

The Gwangju Biennale Foundation announced today that Defne Ayas and Natasha Ginwala have been named artistic directors of the Thirteenth Gwangju Biennale, which will kick off in September 2020. Their curatorial vision for the exhibition includes a performance program, a publishing platform, and a series of public forums that will bring together artists, scientists, and system thinkers to explore the “entire spectrum of intelligence.” Participants will be invited to address topics such as “indigenous knowledge worlds, shamanistic cosmologies, and nonhuman cognition.”

Ayas and Ginwala were appointed by the foundation’s board of directors and international advisory committee, which included Jessica Morgan, director of the Dia Art Foundation in New York; Stephanie Rosenthal, director of Gropius Bau in Berlin; Mami Kataoka, deputy director of the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo; Yongwoo Lee, president of the Shanghai Project; and Yeon Shim Chung, an art historian, curator, and professor at Hongik University.

Commenting on their proposal for the biennial, Morgan said: “I found compelling the future thinking of the project, not simply a critique of our contemporary surroundings or moment in time but a position that views ‘potential’ as key to our possible futures.”

Ayas currently serves as the curator at large at the V-A-C Foundation in Moscow. Previously, she led the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam from 2012 to 2017. She also curated the Turkish pavilion at the Fifty-Sixth Venice Biennale in 2015 and cocurated the Sixth Moscow Biennale that same year.

Ginwala is an associate curator at Gropius Bau in Berlin and is the artistic director of the interdisciplinary arts festival Colomboscope in Sri Lanka. Previously, she curated the Contour Biennale 8, which took place in Belgium; was part of the curatorial team for Documenta 14 in 2017; and was a member of the artistic team for the Eighth Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art in 2014.

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