The 2012 Daegu Photo Biennale was the first art event I attended after moving to Korea, and it quickly convinced me that Daegu doesn't mess around when it comes to quality art. Two years later, the event brings even more unconventional photography from all over the world.
The 2014 Daegu Photo Biennale: Photographic Narrative will run until October 19th at three main locations: The Daegu Culture and Arts Center, Bongsan Culture Center, and Daegu Art Factory. Each location focuses on various themes. Below is a quick guide to give you a taste of what you can expect from each leg of your photo tour (which you definitely need to take).
Bongsan Culture Center has devoted two floors to the biennale. The theme is in market, and all of the photographs were taken within and around the traditional markets of Daegu. All of the most famous markets are spotlighted, as well as some lesser known ones. Unfortunately, photographs on this theme can easily become repetitive; ajjumas sitting in their stalls selling vegetables and sea creatures from buckets, wearing either inviting smiles or covering their faces from the lens.
That's why the photos by Jung Sung Tae and Sung Da Hyun taken in Gyodong market were my personal favorites. These shadowy pictures captured the dimly lit corners of Daegu markets where a man sells random housewares and electronics. These photographs were a welcome disruption in the sea of quintessential brightly colored market photos. They refreshed my eyes to appreciate the rest of the exhibition and look closer at each piece.
Daegu Culture and Arts Center offers four main themes for this year's event with Origins, Memories & Parodies being the largest of them. Give yourself plenty of time to spend here since this is the bienalle's main venue. I only gave myself two hours to wander the four sections of the exhibition and wish I had about an hour more.
The variation in technique and presentation of each collection is what stands out the most about the work currently on display at the Daegu Culture and Arts Center. Photography, when compared to art forms such as painting or sculpture, is a relatively young art form. Yet modern photographers have managed to do so much with technique and style that you can look at a finished photograph and begin to question whether or not it actually started with a camera. On the other hand, simple black and white portraiture can still be as effective and emotive as a very stylized and manipulated piece.
Daegu Art Factory is featuring an exhibition entitled Women in War as well as a documentary photo exhibition. Women in War focuses on the individuals who are most vulnerable during times of war. The theme is broken down in to two parts, 'Memories of War' (photographs from female photographers taken amid gunfire) and 'The Memory of Truth' (documentation of the atrocities faced by comfort women in WWII). The images are as beautiful as they are painful, and the exhibition focuses on the hope for peace just as much as the devastation of war.
In addition to the main exhibitions being shown at the three largest venues, this year's biennale includes satellite galleries which also have photographic collections on display. Click Here for a full list of locations, dates and entry fees.
- Lisa Highfill