Alcantara dresses "The Procession: Through the Gates" at the 13th Gwangju Biennale (South Korea)


GwangjuApril 2021

13th Gwangju Biennale

Alcantara confirms its commitment to art with a participation in The Procession: Through the Gates, the extraordinary inaugural parade that marks the opening of the 13th Gwangju Biennale, Minds Rising, Spirits Tuning, taking place in Gwangju, South Korea.


Directed by Defne Ayas and Natasha Ginwala, the 13th Gwangju Biennale, Minds Rising, Spirits Tuning sets out to examine the spectrum of the extended mind through artistic and theoretical means. Along with The Procession: Through the Gates which acts as the connective thread between all the works on display the Biennale encompasses an exhibition across four venues with 69 artists, Minds Rising: an online publishing platform, three publications including a Feminism(s) reader: Stronger than Bone, and a series of online public programs GB Talks|Rising to the Surface: Practicing Solidarity Futures and Augmented Minds and the Incomputable bringing together artists, activists, scholars, and systems thinkers.


Minds Rising, Spirits Tuning delves into a broad set of cosmologies, activating multitudinous forms of intelligence, planetary life-systems and modes of communal survival, as they contend with the future horizon of cognitive capitalism, algorithmic violence and planetary imperialisms.


Much more than a simple parade, The Procession: Through the Gates is an organic initiation ceremony which, by exploring the borders between resilience and resistance and inverting notions of the living and the dead, literally “turns on” the Biennale, acting as an energetic creation or neural activator. The project, curated and produced by Davide Quadrio, offers an exceptional combination of talents, around two central figures: Angelo Plessas and Sangdon Kim. These artists have drawn inspiration from the unique medium Alcantara and found innovative ways of using the material by analysing its various declinations, both coming up with a site-specific work that will be at the core of The Procession: Through the Gates. The composite whole of artworks and live sessions making up this amazing parade can be viewed as a dynamic reading model of the 13th Biennale with great creative energy. Not only do the live performances appear to “awake” the works on view, but they also constitute a launch pad for a journey that connects all participants within the event, an experiential journey, one to be undertaken by spirits willing to let themselves be enveloped in a sense of wonder. Each step turns out to be a surprise that projects us into a sequence of diverse and enthralling space-time dimensions. A sophisticated experience, which buffers us between changing worlds and startling aesthetic experiences.

Inspiration is drawn from the Nori rituals – a dynamic mixture of traditional Korean drumming, dance, ritual, theatre, and entertainment. Rooted in the ancient agricultural traditions of Korea, the exuberant drumming and joyous movement of Nori is believed to have the power to heal, improve health, and shower blessings and peace on all. Colorful costumes, ceremonial hats, scarves, and props all serve to present a visually striking performance that encourages the audience to get on their feet. Additionally, the image of the funeral procession of Empress Myeongseong (18th Century) is also strongly present in the backdrop of the creative project.


At the entrance of the Biennale Hall, the ceremonial ground is where it all beings. Acting as an altar, a shrine, a vessel of the spirits, the ceremonial ground figures three movable installations created by Sangdon Kim for Alcantara which are the main elements of the procession carried on throughout the Biennale.

Honorable Buddhist nun Jeong Kwan, famous for the program “Chef Table” on Netflix, at the centre of Pavillon 1 initiates the exhibition with a sutra reading.

Elected as shaman, a dancer guides the procession wearing an Angelo Plessas’ golden traditional Korean dress made in Alcantara® and decorated with esoteric symbols. Behind her, dressed in the same material, the child performers of Cecilia Bengolea parade together with all the participants and all the artists and performers.

Minds Rising, Spirits Tuning Gwangju Biennale

Plessas has also designed the installation displayed in Hall 4, a completely estranged environment – a place for rituals and actions directed by Plessas himself. When the procession reaches it, the artist performs a special rite transforming the elements of the installation in props and costumes all made with Alcantara that conjure talismans for the present, inviting repose, collectivity, and mental cleansing and renewal while also playfully adapting rituals of cyber shamanism in which networked intelligence braids with the body and the machine.


The choreography of The Procession: Through the Gates is curated by ∞OS (EightOS), the duo made up of Dmitry Paranyushkin (performer, visual artist, video-maker and web system designer) and Koo Dess (a hybrid artist who works contemporarily on dance, music and digital art). Continuing their engagement with swarm intelligence, confluence dynamics, and the collective cyborg body, ∞OS has choreographed and scored the procession with a machine logic and live soundscape based on the audience’s physical movements.


The main body of the procession advances between flow and rupture as environments of sound, movement, and elective affinities create kinetic vortexes across the exhibition’s five galleries, and the other artists progressively perform in turns.  From the drumming sessions of the artist Yin-ju Chen executed by shaman Marina Lin, evoking altered states of consciousness, to the chorus and percussions of Siyabonga Mthembu, which respond to the Korean Nori tradition, to end with singer Sámi Katarina Barruk. And while the virtual prosthetics drafted by Zeitguised probe the thresholds and potentialities of spectral forces and shadowy presences within the exhibition, as metabolic states of mind and matter converge and resound as Minds Rising, Spirits Tuning reveals its coda, an end that is also a resolution.


In all this energetic happenings, Sangdon’s vessels are moved such as dancing objects positioned around the Biennale, each in different locations in order to create totemic energy elements.


With its participation in The Procession: Through the Gates, an event at the core of the 13th Gwangju Biennale, Alcantara confirms it standing as a go-to brand of primary importance for curators and artists of cultural organizations worldwide. A relationship of reciprocal dialogue and inspiration promoted by the company since 2011, which has led to the acquisition of a tangible patrimony of works and knowhow, in line with brand values.


We cannot think of a better partner in supporting the work of artists and the production of our procession. We thank them for their precision and care throughout this challenging yearcomment Art Directors Defne Ayas and Natasha Ginwala.


Once again, Alcantara has been part of a creative process, proving its worth not only as a versatile material for the execution of the most challenging projects, but also as a source of inspiration for the projects themselves, in an on-going dialogue with curators and artists.


Davide Quadrio, who has produced and directed this challenging project, confirms:

“Alcantara continues to enable the vision of artists as a true collaborator, who believes in experimentation”.

Minds Rising, Spirits Tuning exhibitions
Minds Rising, Spirits Tuning exhibitions
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