“The Dictionary of Evil,” theme of the Gangwon International Biennale 2018, presents the efforts made by artists to observe the special or universal evils of our society, against a backdrop of the moral consciousness of human beings in an endless present, rather than a religious or ethical perspective on the “lack of good.” These efforts are grounded in the fundamental role of the Biennale and the artist’s duty to question the essence and role of art in society through artistic language. The Biennale strategically presents the “artistic need” for a humane response to contemporary issues, where conscience crosses absence of mind, while also discussing, from a highly realistic perspective, the issues, and discourses that contemporary art must address.
The exhibition represents 100 years of modern history as a “dictionary,” and connects the past and present through a “Mobius strip” that indicates circularity instead of beginnings and ends. In this time and space, artists examine themselves and consider the lack of good or evil behavior, and the history of disasters and catastrophes enacted for various reasons.
The Biennale macroscopically and microscopically reflects on the “faces of evil” from the perspective of artists, who do not accept the co-prosperity and coexistence of humanity. These faces of evil include environmental changes to the Earth, which is becoming less and less suitable as a home for humanity, as well as the actual and conceptual migration and escape confronting humans in the era of capitalism, the strongest power of this time. They include various forms of violence and chauvinism carried out in political, economic, and social contexts, as well as the egoism and pure blood-ism underpinning powerful, new hierarchies and forms of imperialism that have become stronger than ever. They also include war and refugees, which are the products of ideologies, conflicts between the leisure class and the working class, and a society in which biological differences have become a source of discrimination.
However, this exhibition is not just a “list of evils.” Although it is likely to be misunderstood, it does not reproduce the pain of others by visualizing or visually appropriating evil. Rather, it looks back on situations and events caused by certain realistic “evils” that we cannot properly accept because we lack the sensitivity to perceive their essential qualities, which include the missing value of life amidst the common problems of mankind, deteriorating quality of life, social collapse, damage to human dignity, and wealth inequality. It is more a process of connecting doubts about the existence of unusual elements that enter daily life (terror and fear, daily life of involuntary circulation).
In other words, “The Dictionary of Evil” does not attempt to visualize forms of evils, but instead aims to reconsider our thoughts about and awareness of evil by describing situations caused by evil (anonymous bodies sacrificed during known or suspected events). It depicts a situation in which we can no longer focus on evil without thinking about the history triggered by the “evil,” when “evil” has become “beyond evil” (in a state where evil cannot be acknowledged, due to its universality) and can no longer be distinguished from humanism.
Of course, seen from the outside, “The Dictionary of Evil” is a visual art project about evil, accompanied by descriptions (in different forms by different artists), and images that cannot be translated into text. It questions how experiences and memories of evil can be reproduced, from the perspective of artists, while also seeking real freedom, in the true sense, by breaking free from our usual reality of non-perception and the pain that is barely acknowledged.
This is the reality we must face when attempting to create a “sound society,” rather than an object that must be abstracted or ideated. Its substance, rather than its exterior, must be drawn from the artist’s perspective. These images are thus very different from suggestive pictures, pornographic viewpoints, or voyeuristic symbols. The “sound society” is not a mechanical human structure, but an uncomfortable keyword designed to produce a change in perception; its ultimate goal is to review the direction of intellectual introspection.
“The Dictionary of Evil,” the theme of the Gangwon International Biennale 2018, ultimately dreams of directly facing and becoming free from painful and tragic history, contemporary reality, and pain itself, including fear, horror, anger, and mourning. The aim of this exhibition is to question human decency and “human values.” In other words, it adopts a humanist approach. This is why “The Dictionary of Evil” sets out to consider, through the Gangwon International Biennale, international, artistic conversations about the good of deficiency, the common good that can prepare us for a better future and protect all our lives. It is aligned with all moral, social, and depersonalized interests that focus on “recovering human nature” through human reason and conscience, as well as taking the time to consider human pain.
Gangwon International Biennale fundamentally comforts the vulnerability of the weak, who have been pillaged by historical and empirical evils, as well as minority groups and alienated people. As briefly mentioned above, the theme, “Dictionary of Evil,” is based on existent threats, as well as refugees, war, famine, disasters, and alienation. It is the duty and responsibility of art not to give up. It is an act of willpower to improve the values of life, and a solemn message about the impossibility of obtaining independent otherness. It also reflects our view of why and for whom this Gangwon International Biennale is being held.
Febrero 3 a Marzo 18 de 2018
Gangneung Green City Experience Center E-ZEN,
Gagwon, Korea del sur