The 14th Gwangju Biennale, soft and weak like water, takes its inspiration from a chapter of Dao De Jing, a fundamental Daoist text, which speaks of water's capacity to embrace contradictions and paradoxes. The Biennale proposes to imagine our shared planet as a site of resistance, coexistence, solidarity, and care, by thinking through the transformative and restorative potential of water as a metaphor, a force and a method. It invites artists to engage with an alternative model of power that brings forth change, not with an immediate effect but with an endurance and pervasive gentleness that flows across structural divisions and differences.
Hera Büyüktaşcıyan often references mythology and architectural structures, closely observing their genealogies and the ways in which they change over time. The Earthbound Whisperers (2023) explores the relationship between the body and landscape. Inspired by the Nine Maidens standing stones in Cornwall and the dolmens in Korea, the artist surveys the underlying dynamics of surface and invisibility through these anthropomorphic monoliths. According to Celtic legend, the nine maidens were petrified for singing during the Sabbath. Büyüktaşcıyan draws a parallel between these mythical characters and female workers at the Crysède silk factory in St Ives who worked in silence while making camouflage netting to conceal military and civilian buildings during World War Two. With these references, silence becomes an agent in the creation of obscure and imaginary topographies. Displayed as a constellation of graphite drawings on textile, this work explores human traces in nature, but also the politics of invisibility and the accumulated histories within.