The 10th edition of Seoul Mediacity Biennale 2018 (formerly SeMA Biennale: Mediacity Seoul) has diverged from the previous structure of appointing a singular artistic director and has invited professionals from different fields as a directorial collective to create a discursive public sphere. This edition’s biennale theme is “Eu Zên,” a greek language which means a “good life.” The biennale includes not only intellectuals from a broad range of fields such as art, economy, environment, politics, society and technology, but also aims for an exhibition that is open to the general public. In its attempt to maximize people’s access to culture and art, it aims to provide opportunities for a new social shift.
“Good Life” has been the most crucial point of reference for humankind in establishing its being. The specific content of a good life differs according to elements such as time, space and culture. Yet on the other hand, in those countless variations of the form of a good life, there are certainly common denominators to be found. Eudanomia, or in other words the flourishing life that develops through awakening the desires and abilities dormant in the human body and mind, could be named as the first denominator. The second common denominator is the fact that exploration based on endless discussions is necessary to grasp what a good life means to an individual.
Seoul Mediacity Biennale 2018 aims to explore and discuss with the multitude what this notion of a “good life” and to identify creative and future-oriented alternative values that are “Noch Nicht (Not yet), but already noticeable. Biennale participants are not confined to contemporary visual artists but include ”new practitioners“ such as activists, planners, researchers who demonstrate creative forth in different fields of life. The space Agora is installed in the middle of the museum’s 1st floor as a place where the public and the private matters intersect and people can discuss ”good life“ which is a political and public issue as well as an individual and private question at the same time. Through the whole Biennale, a great number of lectures, talks, performances will be presented centered around Agora.
<Agora as Medium> - Namsoo Kim (Member of Directorial Collective)
From the very beginning until its 10th edition, the Seoul Media City Biennale has focused on creative relationship-building between media and art. While this relationship building remained a consistent theme throughout, changes that were by no means insignificant were wrought upon the exhibition concepts depending on the weight of these relationships. While the focus was accompanied by the larger trend of media art in the early- and mid-stages of the Biennale, more recently the emphasis has been on feeling out the fundamental possibilities of the medium itself.
Which is why, in this year’s Biennale, the significance of the medium itself will once again be explored under the ethos and concept “Eu Zen,” with the installation of a space and production of programs, Agora, within the exhibition gallery of the Seoul Museum of Art (SeMA). This space will host lectures, conversations, discussions, and performances that will bring together the mythos, pathos, and logos of “Eu Zen.” Learning to live well—to learn well, act well, and play well—will be the thrust of Agora, where the meaning of the medium will be brought to reality.
While medium as a concept was featured previously in the 2014 Biennale as its third definition, the “psychic and shaman medium” that connects us to the other worlds, this Biennale edition will imagine the medium in the first meaning of the word, i.e., the empty space between several worlds. In this empty space, law and order are laid down according to the authority of the space itself that existed before any action or intervention by humans. Agora will contain the principles of this law and order and will function as an empty space where we can learn to live well. While this represents a rather substantial leap from the typical meaning of media art, the aim here is to rein in the concept of medium to a familiar and (in fact) refreshing territory, in keeping with the spirit of “being mindful of where you’re standing in.”