Ceramics became art and captivated the public, 198,000 visitors and 779 artists from 50 nations

2013 Gyeonggi International Ceramic Biennale (GICB) supervised by Korea Ceramic Foundation and hosted by Gyeonggi Province closed on November 17 after its big run of 51 days.

The 2013 GICB presented a variety of experiences and contents under the theme of Community in Icheon, Gwangju and Yeoju. With the budget of KRW 2.5 billion that is lower than the previous festival, this year the GICB produced greater results with 198,200 visitors, which is more than double the number of visitors in the last GICB.

Total sales in this GICB reached KRW 2.3 billion including the profits from the tickets, sales of subsidiary facilities such as ceramic shopping malls, and corporate sponsorships. The profits will be invested in the development of the ceramic culture industry.

Ceramics make a triumphal entry as a genre of contemporary art

The GICB produced such great results as it has finally gave the impression that ceramics, which had not been acknowledged as art thus far, are now a genre of contemporary art to domestic and global experts and the media. It was especially encouraged by a variety of new attempts by 779 artists from 50 nations.

One of them is the International Prize of GICB 2013, which is the main exhibition that switched to the competing method of nomination from public contest. Nominated artists submitted many high-quality artworks that present the trend of contemporary art and future direction for ceramic art based on the understanding of the theme of the GICB.

Moreover, the special exhibition HOT Rookies (competition for international new artists) freshened up the festival with the participation of young global ceramists aged 40 and below. A total of 55 artists from 20 nations worldwide were matched as mentors and mentees for 43 days in the International Ceramic Workshop, which gave a boost to the GICB by lowering the barrier.

Differentiation as an experience-centered biennale for the public

Another success factor is that the GICB focused on experiences for the public, which differentiated itself from other biennales. Theme parks in each region - Icheon, Gwangju and Yeoju - received good reviews that they are artistic tourist attractions where visitors can enjoy excellent landscapes along with a variety of experiences and picnics. This is why many of the young generation as well as families visited the GICB.

Differentiation of local programs was also a success. Icheon Cerapia offered various art experience programs such as Kid’s Biennale, Artist & Food, Modern Tea Ceremony Demonstration and Gallery Talk. Gwangju Gonjiam Ceramic Park provided education programs such as Mosaic Academy and Explorer Pottery and Ceramics. Yeoju Dojasesang showed off shopping programs that gained popularity such as Exhibition Korean Livingware Ceramics and Exhibition on Piles of Traditional Dishes.

Due to these factors, the GICB showed an increase in the number of visitors while other biennales held during the same period had the decreased number of visitors compared to the previous events due to economic depression. This implies that the GICB has the potential to grow as a public and popular art biennale.

Communicating with various communities with events such as Ceramics Competition for the Disabled

The GICB held the Ceramics Competition for the Disabled ‘Bounce! Bounce! Beating Heart’ and ‘Healing Camp’ based on the intention of the theme ‘Community’ in an attempt to communicate with a variety of communities. What is especially noteworthy is that the GICB promoted community spirit by attracting culturally underprivileged visitors such as multicultural families, disabled people, and low-income families during the biennale.

Korea Ceramic Foundation that arranged the 2013 GICB will thoroughly review the accomplishments and things to improve by holding the briefing session for evaluation as soon as the biennale is closed. It will then adjust the schedule for the next biennale by collecting opinions from the community through Gyeonggi Ceramics Win-Win Growth Committee.

Other than playing the current role of leading the trend of global modern ceramics, the GICB also seeks new attempts to publicize the traditional value of Korean ceramics to the world.

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