In the architectural sense, a ‘folly’ means an architecture that plays a decorative role after losing its original function. However, Gwangju Folly refers to architectures that contribute to urban regeneration, playing both decorative and functional roles in public spaces.
‘Folly’ used to mean decorative, functionless architectures in the European mansion gardens, mostly in the U.K and France. However, after the Swedish architect, Bernard Tschumi, installed 35 architectural structures in La Villette park in France, the word ‘folly’ became well-known to the world with its contemporary meaning. The park offers things to research, observe and see to both the general public and experts through multiple follies, and encourages interaction between visitors and the park; it is the mission of Gwangju Folly.
Rather than operating as individual urban architectures, Gwangju Folly will exercise its influence through unified patterns. The new follies, to be located within the city, are designed to achieve urban regeneration by providing a cultural rebirth to the old downtown area, which has been plagued by a phenomenon of ‘hollowing out’ after 40 years of rapid industrial growth.
Gwangju Biennale, which began in 1995 to commemorate the May 18 Democratization Movement (1980) and the April 19 Revolution (1960), is one of the oldest and most renowned modern art biennales in Asia. Under the direction of such renowned curators as Lee YongWoo, Massimiliano Gioni, Okwui Enwezor, Charles Esche, Hou Hanru, Kim Hong-hee, Oh Kwang-Soo, Sung Wan-kyung, Lee Young-chul, Kerry Brower, Jang Suk-won, and Harald Szeemann, Gwangju Bi ennale has established itself as a major player in the international contemporary art biennale scene.
Gwangju Folly project, initiated as part of the 2011 Gwangju Design Biennale under the direction of Seung Hyo-sang and Ai Weiwei, evolved into an independent program, and is set to showcase a series of new follies in the urban space of Gwangju along with its second anniversary.