1. Today, what is the biggest problem in global contemporary arts’ ?
2. Today, what is the biggest problem in Korea’s contemporary arts ?
3. What do you think about today’s massive exhibitions such as biennales ?
4. What do you think about Korea’s biennales?
5. What should Korea’s contemporary arts pay attention to in their direction?

Sim Sang-yong art critic, editor of Contemporary Art journal
A. Kim Hak-ryang the Department of Curatorial Studies and Art Management at Dongduk Women’s Univ.
Q1. Today, what is the biggest problem in global contemporary arts’?
I cannot yet feel the words, ‘global,’ ‘contemporary,’ and ‘arts’ in my bones. They must have come and gone, must be coming now, or must be going another way in the middle. Or maybe I can’t feel them because I have been living in ‘modern Korea in a life as fleeting as the dew on the grass.
Q2. Today, what is the biggest problem in Korea’s contemporary arts?
Arts have made a firm system that can defend themselves against any attack from the systems of life and death. But today, criticism is absent, art is a business, dealers and collectors ignore the people of the country, exhibitions follow the style of a biennale, and policies creep into the arms of bureaucracy and capital. We are apt to boycott or exceed ourselves. These are our modern and contemporary times. Such attitudes gathered together have constructed Korea and people drawn to it talk about ‘cultural enrichment.’
Q3. What do you think about today’s massive exhibitions such as biennales?
The themes of biennales always try to voice everything in the world but in fact they fail to say anything. Furthermore, their oppressive and violent size and construction plunge artists and viewers into being servants or consumables. They are a mere show without substance. In biennales, art is being isolated and consumed in the vilest way by ‘experts.’
Q4. What do you think about Korea’s biennales?
I am going to tell you just one thing. We belittle ourselves too much, saying, “What can we do?” Why should we put famous foreign experts in the position of the directors of Busan and Gwangju Biennales? The bi- ennales that were most impressive to me were the ones led by Lee Young-cheol (이영철) (Busan) and Seong Wan-gyeong (성완경) (Gwangju). (Of course, not the Gwangju of Kim Seon-jeong).
Q5. What should Korea’s contemporary arts pay attention to in their direction?
‘Korea,’ ‘contemporary,’ and ‘arts’ are unfamiliar and awkward even to us. Why is it so? There are more than a few people who pretend to be pioneers or who boast of themselves as if only they know something great. I hope that somehow we will forgive to be avant-garde. Those who try to take a shortcut are good at the technique of declaration but are prone to despise their neighbors. To Korea in contemporary times, art should fall behind life and death.
A. Kang Cheol Director of Seoul Photo, editor of FOTASIA
Q1. Today, what is the biggest problem in global contemporary arts’?
I think it’s plagiarism. As the world becomes globalized, more artists come to access overseas arts more easily, whereas audiences are not in this po- sition. In any field, there are people who deceive others. Some artists who plainly copy other artist’s works let their works be housed in national mu- seums or enter residency programs proudly. Whenever I see such a situa- tion, I feel very embarrassed. The reviewers who fail to verify them are also a problem.
Q2. Today, what is the biggest problem in Korea’s contemporary arts?
I think it’s lack of philosophy. Even though an artist may grip hold of wealth and fame at an early age, they should endlessly brood over why they should conduct their work and what message they want to tell the world. To be not a stylist but an artist, they must have their own philoso- phy.
Q3. What do you think about today’s massive exhibitions such as biennales?
I agree with holding a biennale because it is a differential experience in which you can feel a limited artistic empathy in a limited space. But the problem is its structure. The biggest problem is that it does not start from a concrete discourse. Whenever a biennale is held, an abstract theme and obscure flow are shown to dominate. Thus, to host a biennale, its steering
committee must venture to collaborate with various professionals such as philosophers, historians, writers, and scientists. Then, a biennale can overcome its frame and draw a concrete text. This is the core for holding a biennale.
Q4. What do you think about Korea’s biennales?
When the Gwangju Biennale started in 1995, I hoped that it would become a Venice Biennale of Asia and the center of Asian arts. But I think that the times in which someone can teach others is gone. Since Korea is on the edge of the world and within the Third World, if one keeps telling boring tales, no one will listen. Thus, if Korea’s biennales try to find the meaning of their existence in the world, they cannot help but utilize these charac- teristics. There will be no competitiveness if they display works that prop- erly imitate art from overseas. In short, a biennale should adopt a strategy in that“an event should have its own style and be soft, and works should be substantial and have potential.”
Q5. What should Korea’s contemporary arts pay attention to in their direction?
I think it’s education. That Korea, a country full of great artistic energy, does not see internationally outstanding artists appear, proves that its ed- ucation has a structural problem and is ineffective. I wish that at least in college, students can focus on their art without worrying about their eco- nomic situation and the country’s policies, and then can graduate as tal- ented artists.
A. Park Jin-hui curator
Q1. Today, what is the biggest problem in global contemporary arts’?
The combination of the words, ‘global contemporary arts,’ feels as sad and violent as the combination of words, ‘universal emotion and taste.’ The projects of contemporary arts have tried to escape the bondage of form and content, but now do they want to return to the fence of our global times?
Q2. Today, what is the biggest problem in Korea’s contemporary arts?
It would be hard to discuss over our contemporary times without intro- specting about Korea’s history and philosophy. We need to go further from seeking the style of tradition and a certain region, and thus sincerely examine Korea’s reality and have empathy with it.
Q3. What do you think about today’s massive exhibitions such as biennales?
If we share the thoughts of their basic mission, we can be free from the addiction to their size and the eyes of others.
Q4. What do you think about Korea’s biennales?
I think that we need to access the existence of biennales in terms of history and philosophy and to form a bond of sympathy among contemporaries.
Q5. What should Korea’s contemporary arts pay attention to in their direction?
I think that today artists should understand the reasons and background for why contemporary arts appear and should determine their direction without bias toward others.
A. Park Chun-ho head curator of Kim Chong Yung Museum
Q1. Today, what is the biggest problem in global contemporary arts’?
The biggest problem in globalized contemporary arts is that ‘the logic of capital dominates everything.’ They have become market-centered arts whose values are decided by supply and demand. The second biggest problem is the uniformity of works caused from market-centered arts. This is probably the biggest dilemma to artists. The choices of the artists have become more important than ever.
Q2. Today, what is the biggest problem in Korea’s contemporary arts?
The reason for the closed state of Korea’s contemporary arts being the biggest problem is because Korea’s arts do not produce their own subjects
to discuss. Aren’t we still an exporter of themes to discuss? To produce our themes to debate, we need to form an open atmosphere where profession- als from humanities and engineering related with new media can collaborate with us.
Q3. What do you think about today’s massive exhibitions such as biennales?
No matter why biennales were held in the beginning, I think that now too many biennales seem to be held in the world. I am not sure that there are so many topics in the art circles of the world that the world must discuss through them. And as we say, birds of a feather flock together: we see the artists again whom we have seen in other biennales in this biennale, and the director of this biennale had been the head of a biennale in another region. Media also pour excessive meanings into such exhibitions. I don’t know by what discrimination these biennales keep being held. These days, it seems that such massive exhibitions attract people with a hollow spectacle rather than the content of art. We should keep asking to ourselves, “What is a biennale for?” and then answer it.
Q4. What do you think about Korea’s biennales?
I would like to ask whether we have an interest in arts and a love for them as we keep holding three international biennales. Do the art circles of the world appreciate that Korea’s art circles have the capability to hold the three massive events? Isn’t it from a sense of inferiority that we should hurry to keep up with contemporary Western arts―the tspirit of artists in the last century?
Q5. What should Korea’s contemporary arts pay attention to in their direction?
If the world of art is compared to a carriage, it could be called a carriage run by three horses: artists, viewers, and critics. If one of the horses loses its power, the carriage cannot gather speed properly. In other words, art- ists, viewers, and critics should all have similar capabilities to some degree. And they all should be faithful in their role. It is time that we ask why we make artistic works, collect them, and criticize them. There is no future to those who do not reflect upon themselves.
A. Son Cha-hye researcher of Korea Art Planning and Management Research Center at Dongduk Women’s Univ.
Q1. Today, what is the biggest problem in global contemporary arts’?
I think it is the extinction of local identity and regionality. Today contem- porary art museums in the world show similar artists, themes, and issues. In other words, not only the identity of an artist but also the identity of a group representing a nationality show a weakened differentiation. If the exhibition styles and works of museums have less characteristics than souvenirs in sightseeing areas, it is predicted that globalism will face an opposite effect causing de-individuation.
Q2. Today, what is the biggest problem in Korea’s contemporary arts?
I think it’s ineffectiveness that is caused from the absence of cooperation.
Korea’s contemporary arts have failed to build a co-existence structure that organically connects artists, art colleges, museums, and galleries―in a wider range, including art magazines―in the art ecosystem. It is simply a structure where each individual works only their own job. Of course, a long time and effort are required to build an organic system for the arts. But Korea’s contemporary arts need an art ecosystem that can offer at least a guideline to help capable artists decide what process they will live in for their artistic lives.
Q3. What do you think about today’s massive exhibitions such as biennales?
I think that there are many massive exhibitions but that their contents are unsatisfactory. If it is impossible to focus on a few selected exhibitions, it is at least necessary to put a large budget into a massive show. But the current art structure should be changed into a structure in which viewers can enjoy works everyday, 365 days of a year. There are good and bad points in focusing on budgets for massive shows, but I think we need to disperse them for various types of displays. In particular, the cost of in- viting foreign artists should be used as productive investment to develop young artists. Above all things, huge exhibitions should be productive in discovering new artists, having discussions, and exchanging art informa- tion.
Q4. What do you think about Korea’s biennales?
I think that if a director has autonomy and the accounting of an organiza- tion is transparent, a biennale can be successful in half of its color and the eyes of the world. If an art event cannot help but be under the sub-struc- ture of the government, it would be a way for a director to have maximum power. If a director cannot have such power, there is a high possibility that the event will be torn down in its form and content.
Q5. What should Korea’s contemporary arts pay attention to in their direction?
It is normal that an artist works with a commercial gallery to sell their works for making a living. But artists need to be educated in advance to do so and there should be an alternative to this way. They should know the rights and duties for allowing agencies to manage their works. Instead of a commercial gallery, they also should seek an alternative that can guarantee their living.
A. An Pil-yeon Director of An Pil Yeon formative arts institute
Q1. Today, what is the biggest problem in global contemporary arts’?
I think it’s the absence of a philosophy. For this reason, many artists simply follow trends. Meanwhile, canny brokers decide trends and artists who will display their works in their meeting.
Q2. Today, what is the biggest problem in Korea’s contemporary arts?
I think it’s the absence of a philosophy. For this reason, many artists just follow trends. Meanwhile, canny brokers stick to foreign artists to avoid deteriorating the trend that can be caused by its long distribution period.
Q3. What do you think about today’s massive exhibitions such as biennales?
I think we need a Hollywood-blockbuster style event. But since today massive exhibitions with huge budgets are failing to produce topics to discuss, they just remain in the range of a local club. At first, biennales were needed in art circles, and thus they should be transformed into more useful events.
Q4. What do you think about Korea’s biennales?
These days, several regions are holding biennales in Korea. They are only a little different in their fields but show similar characteristics. After all, they are just a so-so event where people who seek a way to use taxes to hold a biennale event meet with people who brought something to display with them, every two years, in a designated place.
Q5. What should Korea’s contemporary arts pay attention to in their direction?
Korea’s contemporary arts do not need to pay attention to anything. It is enough if they just fulfill their responsibility. And it’s no problem if artists just wake up from the hypnosis of art. And what clever brokers must do is, after mastering English, enter the world and prove that Korean artists’ works are also actively dealt with in the international market as international brokers.
A. Lee Ji-seong independent curator
Q1. Today, what is the biggest problem in global contemporary arts’?
One of the problems of international contemporary arts is that the main topics to be discussed are decided by a few main planners in the West. Upon seeing the background of the planners of the main biennales, the problem is revealed more clearly. Even most of the artists and planners who came from the Third world were grown and educated in the West. I hope that the word ‘globalism’ will not stay only in theory and that discussion on true globalism will be made more strongly.
Q2. Today, what is the biggest problem in Korea’s contemporary arts?
I think that Korea’s contemporary arts lack examination over Korea’s style. I think that artists in the mainstream who studied in the West and now lead Korea’s arts, have not given enough thought to our country’s unique style. The biggest problem in Korea’s contemporary arts is that many artists, especially mainstream artists, have less interest in Korean art and do not study it.
Q3. What do you think about today’s massive exhibitions such as biennales?
I think that a biennale can be a good example to view contemporary arts. Simply because of its big size, it cannot be a subject of criticism. But a show-offish biennale for form’s sake must be considered one to be removed.
Q4. What do you think about Korea’s biennales?
A biennale is a useful exhibition to reflect new media and endlessly change the arts. I think the problems in recent Korean biennales were caused from not considering our society’s reality. In such a situation, we should think more about the fundamental meaning and role of a biennale.
Q5. What should Korea’s contemporary arts pay attention to in their direction?
I think that upon seeing the external elements, Korea’s artists are not behind mainstream artists in the West. But what I regret is that they lack thought and philosophy as Korean arts. They need to fundamentally introspect the meaning of the word, ‘global.’ If they give more thought to it, they will create better works than now.
A. Hong Won-seok artist
Q1. Today, what is the biggest problem in global contemporary arts’?
I am doubtful of global contemporary arts and feel tired of them. I think we need to band together with artists who are conscious of the world, and face its contradictions.
Q2. Today, what is the biggest problem in Korea’s contemporary arts?
I think that most people who are in Korea’s art circles seem to think that they are equipped with their own competitiveness by exercising their vested rights or claiming their legitimacy. Today the situations where a young artist can survive in Korea’s art circles is when they were born to a rich family, when they meet a rich spouse, when they have a network with the rich and power class, or when they lead issues in SNS or on TV programs.
Q3. What do you think about today’s massive exhibitions such as biennales?
A huge exhibition like a biennale is a chance for an artist to display and sell their works in major galleries―it is thought that a few elite artists are selected. Usually biennales do not give me any realistic meaning, and I think that they do not give any memory to other viewers either. I hope to see a biennale that influences every corner of our lives and connotes various meanings.
Q4. What do you think about Korea’s biennales?
I think that Korea’s biennales need to aggressively change the generations of artists who display their works and destroy the positions of the artists, without feeling afraid of change. And they need a strategy to show flexibility according to an implied real situation.
Q5. What should Korea’s contemporary arts pay attention to in their direction?
Is it a delusion that today an artist creates works that can contribute to our society and display them in various art projects, with the ridiculous vision that they will change the world with art? (Of course, they will not have the ability to do so.) Can’t we find our own art not in the structure where only winners dominate everything, but in a relationship of co-exist- ence? And when one has received benefits, does one have some responsi- bility to distribute one’s benefits to other artists who stand behind or to younger artists?