press release

SeMA Biennale Mediacity Seoul 2016 features more than 80 artworks by 61 artists and collectives invited from 24 different countries. The exhibition will run from September 1st through November 20th in all four branches of the Seoul Museum of Art (SeMA): Seosomun Main Branch, Nam Seoul Living Arts Museum, Buk Seoul Museum of Art and SeMA Nanji Residency. NERIRI KIRURU HARARA is a festival of contemporary art during which international artists and citizens gathered at SeMA’s branches will share not only information and knowledge but also intellect and emotion. As they learn from and befriend one another, they will investigate and propose multiple potentialities for diverse futures.


NERIRI KIRURU HARARA refers to the sum of artistic languages conceived in the future tense in the face of a hesitation first experienced by a city that has expanded through periods of rapid economic growth and democratization.

Having recently reached the seventy-year mark after the Korean liberation, the megacity of Seoul is loaded with global problems such as war and terror, migration and displacement, disaster and poverty. The side effects left behind by its interrupted concept of time—that of modernization—are manifested as abruptly exposed regressive symptoms. Urban squares and cyberspace (where hostile voices reflect off of each other), as well as social media (a battleground between liberalization and control), became public places; trauma became a native language; healing and consolation became hit products; humor became theatre of cruelty and hate became mainstream sentiment.

NERIRI KIRURU HARARA acknowledges the impossibility of quick diagnosis and the futility of hasty criticism with regard to the stack of contemporary urban problems and national crises, and equally sees through the empty gesture of soothing fear and insecurity through momentary spectacles and beauty. This is why we long for sinking even more into the water, so to speak—down somewhere quieter than criticism and deeper than consolation—and why we eagerly await the strange energy and mutation surging after a radical disjunction.

From SeMA's Seosomun Main Branch, NERIRI KIRURU HARARA begins with the incubation and facilitation of ongoing works that are already here but yet are not, that postpone their own completion, or of which the completion is postponed. The list of ongoing works in the collection, taken from SeMA's archive located in Seoul, is connected by incomplete symbols and fictitious languages discovered and reassembled by international artists. These pieces of time, gathered in the present by grasping shards of past and future, lead us to face a yet unknown world, an unfamiliar universe, or painfully avoided territories. Such close encounters transpose the spectators onto sunken islands, disappearing archives, infinitesimal parts of plants and animals, and ultimately other sides of life. The point of contact in this transition acts as an inflection point for the chain reaction of all posts causing the spectators to hard-land on different points of futures that have not yet arrived.

In Mediacity Seoul 2016, SeMA Seosomun is the interconnecting point for NERIRI KIRURU HARARA, occurring simultaneously in Nam Seoul Living Arts Museum, Buk Seoul Museum of Art and SeMA Nanji Residency. It also functions as the file where the outputs of the 2015 pre-biennale and publication project COULD BE, as well as those of the 2016 summer camps—The Village and Uncertainty School —will be deposited.