Ghosts, Spies, and Grandmothers at SeMA

Ghosts, Spies, and Grandmothers at SeMA

Words by Shane Torr


The Seoul Museum of Art (SeMA) has brought together 42 artists from 17 different countries to contribute to the 8th SeMA Biennale, under the banner of “Mediacity Seoul 2014.”

This year’s theme is highlighted by three key concepts: “Ghosts,” which stresses the forgotten histories and traditions of Asia; “Spies,” which symbolizes the memories of the Cold War; and “Grandmothers”, which is a metaphor of ‘women and time.’ Park Chan-kyong, the artistic director of this year’s event, believes that the biennale “reflects the media-frenzy characteristics of Seoul and confers the identity of the museum.” Park who is a Seoul-based media artist, film maker and curator has truly curated an exhibition that provides a little something for everyone.

In terms of participants and works on display, this biennale is huge. There are a few artists whose work stand out. Haegue Yang’s “Sonic Sculpture” series is unlike any other. Through the usage of golden bells in her work, she makes use of movement, sound and wind to hypnotize the viewing audience. It is possible to hear these bells whilst moving around certain parts of the museum.

“Mansudae Master Class” by Che Onejoon, is another standout. Looking at the influence the North Korean government has in certain African countries, the artist introduces the monuments, statues and buildings erected in those countries and then shows the relationship between the governments. It doesn’t take long to notice that in fact, we are seeing the socialist realism of North Korea in Africa.

SeMA Biennale Mediacity Seoul 2014 is open every day, except Mondays, and will come to an end on November 23. Entrance is free. For more information, visit