Monthly Gathering is a series of informal gatherings in Gwangju, on different scales, running from January till November 2016. Each monthly gathering comprises two to three days, and is a collaboration between Mite-Ugro, a Gwangju-based art collective which functions as the local curatorial associate of the 11th Gwangju Biennale, and the curatorial team of this edition of the biennale. Mite-Ugro’s project space in Daein Market is the main venue for the events, and the participants are artists, students, citizens, and initiatives in Gwangju.
The purpose of the Monthly Gathering program is to increase and improve the connections between the Gwangju Biennale, its network, and the local art community in Gwangju, especially its younger sections, based on the proposal of Mite-Ugro. The method includes many instances of face-to-face contact and formal as well as informal connections based on shared concerns.
As the local curatorial associate of the 11th Gwangju Biennale, Mite-Ugro is an important node that connects the Gwangju Biennale to different people and organizations in the city and that uses triangulation to embed the Gwangju Biennale within the city, both before and after the exhibition period. Apart from Gwangju spaces, the biennale is also establishing connections with independent and small-scale art spaces in Seoul, Busan, and Ansan.
In order to create an integrated and concentrated approach in “mediation,” the Monthly Gatherings are taking place in correspondence with other initiatives of the 11th Gwangju Biennale, such as the ongoing Infra-School, the forum from 2-4 September, and the public programs of the educational department of the Gwangju Biennale (i.e., its docents program). The Infra-School and Monthly Gatherings are planned around the same dates to engage and connect different groups of people in the city of Gwangju.
1. Creating “The Mite-Ugro Art Book Collection”
The curatorial team is using their network to gather art and theory publications to create a collection of art books. Colleagues, peers, and friends are asked to bring and send publications, which are then collected and registered in an online database at Mite-Ugro, with titles translated into Korean. After one year, the collection will be transferred to a local library which can facilitate long-term access and maintenance. As of June 2016 the Mite-Ugro Art Book Collection consists of about 100 publications.
2. Group Readings
Group readings of texts from the collected books are held at the Mite-Ugro space. The shared core concerns of Mite-Ugro and the curatorial team of GB11 form the foundation of these group readings. The curatorial team and Mite-Ugro are selecting texts preferably in both Korean and English. We are using the occasion of the presence of visiting GB11 artists and curators to open up the texts further with the group. The event is announced as an open call to which participants will RSVP.
3. The Artist Screening
This is a program of regular screenings of GB11 artists’ films, hosted at the Mite-Ugro project space. Based on moving-image work by artists who have been invited to GB11, and often happening on the occasion of GB11 artist’s visit to Gwangju, this cycle introduces these artists’ practice, sharing their work in an informal setting with the local art scene. The program includes screenings by artists Dora García, Ann Lislegaard, Jeamin Cha, Bona Park, and Zhou Tao, among others. The screening program is outlined by the curatorial team, with special input of assistant curators Azar Mahmoudian and Margarida Mendes, and Mite-Ugro. The films are translated into Korean, and the screenings are followed by discussions.
4. The Artwork in Focus
A group of maximum 15 people, including local artists and curators, GB11 artists, the curatorial team, and other discussants, will gather to discuss the work of two Gwangju-based artists at the time. The aim is to contribute to critical debates in Gwangju and to build a sense of discursive community. The two artists who will present works and also the discussants will be invited by Mite-Ugro, based on an open call. Artists such as Park Se-hee , Lee Sun-hee. Jung Ho Jung, Moon Yu mi, Seungchan Gwon, Mijung Shin, Youngmee Roh and Down Jeong have participated.
5. Curated Walks
In addition to art, the Monthly Gatherings engage with other urgent issues in Gwangju, for example gentrification. Different walking paths through the city and suburbs are curated by Mite-Ugro, the curatorial team, local artists, as well as people from other disciplines, such as urbanists, sociologists, etc. Each walk ends with a meal, at the cost of the participant.
A maximum of 30 people can join the walk, including GB11 artists, Mite-Ugro, and the curatorial team. The events are announced as an open call and participants RSVP and are selected on a first-come, first-serve basis. The Curated Walks have had titles such as “The Hybrid of Continent and Ocean Culture (in Hanok Style architecture)”, “Creating Urban Forest and Village through Participation”and “Hearing the Story of Gwangju people at the Scene of 18 May”