Performance Bodies/Porous Borders

Performance Bodies/Porous Borders: Exploring dynamics of truth/fiction, reality/unreality, human/non-human in performance art in the UAE and South Korea.


Panel Discussion In partnership with Abu Dhabi Art Powered by GS Energy

  • icon Location
    The Theatre, Manarat Al Saadiyat - Abu Dhabi
  • icon Date
  • icon Time
    4:30 pm

About the panel

This panel discussion brought together perspectives from the UAE and South Korean on performance art in the gallery and in film from the UAE and South Korea. Borders and performance are conditions of bodies in movement and flux; in performance art, the body addresses the immediate, inhabiting the present it also confronts history and carries it into the future. Borders marginalise and traumatise bodies, however, permeable and porous borders allow for cultural exchange. Bodies in motion, games, and digital/organic blending allow for transformation.

Sunjung Kim (Artistic Director, Art Sonje Center) and Je Yun Moon (Project Director, Art Sonje Center) presented curatorial narratives from South Korea, focusing on human and non-human performance scenarios and ecological thinking. They were joined by Emirati poet and filmmaker Nujoom Al-Ghanem whose recent film works bring environmental narratives into the body, considering the figure of the artist, the migrant and the actor.

From the body as the site of lived experience to speculative futures of fictional, nonhuman subjectivities, the panellists explored how blurring boundaries reveals insights into pressing conditions and imaginative encounters across difference.




Sunjung Kim has worked as chief curator/deputy director (1993–2004) and director (2016–2017) of Art Sonje Center in Seoul, where she is currently the artistic director (2022–). She is also the chair of ICOM Republic of Korea (2023) and board member of ICOM ASPAC (International Council of Museums Asia-Pacific Alliance). She was the artistic director of the ACC Archive & Research at the Asia Art Culture Center (2014–2015), and the president of the Gwangju Biennale Foundation (2017–2021). Additionally, she was the founder and artistic director of the REAL DMZ PROJECT, an art and research project designed to cross the boundaries of the museum and launched to explore the (in)visible borders of DMZ through the critical lens of art and to raise awareness about the division of Korea since 2011. At Art Sonje Center, she has curated exhibitions since 2007, focusing on artists such as Martin Creed, Kim Beom, Haegue Yang, Lee Bul, Sung Hwan Kim, and Abraham Cruzvillegas. Furthermore she co-curated Heidi Bucher’s show in 2023.



Dr Je Yun Moon is a curator and writer based in Seoul. Her doctoral research at Goldsmiths College examined the emergence of the term ‘choreography’ in contemporary artistic and curatorial explorations that extend beyond the institution of dance. Dr Moon pursued curatorial studies at the Royal College of Art and delved into art history at Cornell University. Throughout her career, she has contributed to various projects spanning art, architecture, and performance at Anyang Public Art Project, Nam June Paik Art Center, The Korean Cultural Centre UK, Liverpool Biennial. Currently, she is Project Director at Art Sonje Center. Her recent curatorial projects have spotlighted artists like Lee Bul, Sora Kim, Koo Jeong A, Hedi Bucher, Michael Joo and Eisa Jocson.



Nujoom Alghanem is an Emirati poet, artist, and filmmaker. Her achievements in the arts have been recognised both nationally and internationally. She was chosen twice to exhibit her work in Venice Biennale. The first time was in 2017, when she was one of five artists participated in the UAE Pavilion at the 57th edition. And in 2019, she was the solo artist of the same pavilion at the same Biennale. Only after her international appearance she had started showing her physical visual art locally. She is prolific producer of paintings, ceramic, immersive installations that consist of different materials including canvas, burlap, clay, glass, concrete, wires, ropes, wood, and lots more. Alghanem started her professional career in the early 1980s as a journalist. Poetry, art, and filmmaking have been an integral part of her trajectory. She has produced twenty films including documentaries, fiction, and art films which most won regional and international prizes. In terms of poetry, she has published eight collections. Her work has been translated to several languages including English, French, Spanish, Turkish, Hindi and more. Alongside her artistic endeavors, she has worked as a professional mentor in filmmaking, art, creative writing, and as a cultural consultant. Nujoom considers filmmaking as her profession, whereas art and poetry are her passion.




Maya El Khalil is an independent curator and visual arts advisor based in Oxford, UK. Her curatorial work addresses the intersection of art, community-driven practice and cultural exchange, with particular expertise in the contemporary artistic context of the Gulf. The environmental and climate emergency has been the focus of her most recent exhibitions and multidisciplinary projects, such as the ongoing digital platform ‘Take Me to the River’, in collaboration with Goethe-Institut and the Prince Claus Fund. She has curated exhibitions at institutions such as Louvre Abu Dhabi (2023); Middle East Institute, Washington D.C. (2023); Abu Dhabi Art (2022); Hamburger Bahnhof Museum of Contemporary Art, Berlin (2021); 21,39 Jeddah Arts (2020); Delfina Foundation, London (2019) and Casa Árabe, Madrid (2019). She was the founding director of Athr Gallery (2009-2016). El Khalil serves on the international advisory board of the Prince Claus. She has participated in numerous international juries, panels, artist mentorships and residency programs’ selection committees. El Khalil holds an MA in Art and Politics from Goldsmiths College, University of London, and an MBA and a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the American University of Beirut.

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