Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Gerhard Richter critical of 2011 German Pavilion

Gerhard Richter is not at all amused with the choice of Christoph Schlingensief to represent Germany at the next Venice Biennale in 2011. “That’s a scandal,” said Richter, quoted by the Berliner Zeitung. “They’re taking a performer although we have thousands of artists.” Moreover, the painter associates the selection of the multitasking director Schlingensief with “the decline of painting.”

Curator Susanne Gaensheimer who made the choice has reacted with a written statement, published by Art magazine. While honoring Richter’s role as “the most important living artist of the twentieth century,” Gaensheimer consciously chose Schlingensief as an artist who challenges both the content and the form of decidedness while transgressing borders. “In association with the German pavilion, I view his work as a contribution to discussions about the deterritorialization of the arts and to questions regarding the social relevance of art.”

Monday, May 17, 2010

Bice Curiger Appointed Director of the 54th International Art Exhibition for 2011

VENICE.- The Board of the Biennale di Venezia, chaired by Paolo Baratta, has appointed Bice Curiger as Director of the Visual Arts Sector, with specific responsibility for curating the 54th International Art Exhibition to be held in 2011.

A graduate of the University of Zurich, Bice Curiger is an art historian, critic and curator of exhibitions at an international level. Since 1993, she has been curator at the Zurich Kunsthaus, one of the most important museums in the world for modern and contemporary art, and which has for years implemented a major exhibitions programme of international significance. Bice Curiger is co-founder and editor-in-chief of “Parkett”, one of the most authoritative and innovative contemporary art magazines in the world, published in Zurich and New York since 1984. Since 2004, she has been publishing director of the “Tate etc” magazine produced by London’s Tate Gallery. She is also the author of various publications and catalogues of contemporary art.

On the occasion of her nomination, Bice Curiger declared: “It is a great honour and a privilege to be asked to be the director of the Venice Biennale, one of the world’s most important and exceptional overviews on contemporary art. I am very much looking forward to the great challenge. La Biennale is an exhibition, which is traditionally attracting a wide-ranging public, from professionals to so-called "amateurs" and art lovers. This offers the opportunity to reflect on the highly communicative aspect of today's art, which strongly engages and commits viewers - draughting a contemporary image of the individual in the broad collective and social context”.

For his part, the President of the Biennale, Paolo Baratta, declared: "Bice Curiger can boast great experience in research into contemporary art, in its criticism and exhibition, and has matured a profound knowledge and esteem of the world of artists. These characteristics ensure that among the themes of the next Biennale there can be one – particularly important today – dedicated to the quality and intensification of the relationship between artists, works of contemporary art and today’s public”.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

ArtReview's 2009 Power 100

Coming on the heels of 12 months of extraordinary financial stress, both in the artworld and the real world, the 2009 edition of the Power 100 reflects fundamental changes in influence. Previous No. 1s, both artists and collectors, have plummeted, while only the most ambitious of museums have stayed near the top; meanwhile, percolating up from the middle ranks is a new generation of highly networked, flexible, globetrotting curators – men and women at the very centre of a new way of working.

The ArtReview Power 100 is not just a who’s who to contemporary art but also a guide to general trends and forces that shape the artworld. With almost a third of entries new to the list this year, and sharp divisions among the panel of international experts making the selections, this edition is one of the freshest in years.

1. Hans Ulrich Obrist
2. Glenn D. Lowry
3. Sir Nicholas Serota
4. Daniel Birnbaum
5. Larry Gagosian
6. François Pinault
7. Eli Broad
8. Anton Vidokle, Julieta Aranda & Brian Kuan Wood
9. Iwona Blazwick
10. Bruce Nauman
11. Iwan Wirth
12. David Zwirner
13. Jeff Koons
14. Jay Jopling
15. Marian Goodman
16. Agnes Gund
17. Takashi Murakami
18. Alfred Pacquement
19. Peter Fischli & David Weiss
20. Mike Kelley
21. Barbara Gladstone
22. Steven A. Cohen
23. Dominique Lévy & Robert Mnuchin
24. Adam D. Weinberg
25. Marc Glimcher
26. Amy Cappellazzo & Brett Gorvy
27. Cheyenne Westphal & Tobias Meyer
28. Ann Philbin
29. Matthew Higgs
30. Matthew Marks
31. Tim Blum & Jeff Poe
32. Gavin Brown
33. Ralph Rugoff
34. Liam Gillick
35. Anne Pasternak
36. Dakis Joannou
37. John Baldessari
38. Isa Genzken
39. Paul McCarthy
40. Michael Govan
41. Eugenio López
42. Cindy Sherman
43. Ai Weiwei
44. Patricia Phelps de Cisneros
45. Annette Schönholzer & Marc Spiegler
46. Diedrich Diederichsen
47. Richard Prince
48. Damien Hirst
49. Bernard Arnault
50. Massimiliano Gioni
51. Amanda Sharp & Matthew Slotover
52. Joel Wachs
53. Victor Pinchuk
54. Udo Kittelmann
55. Marina Abramović
56. Michael Ringier
57. Gerhard Richter
58. Richard Serra
59. RoseLee Goldberg
60. Kasper König
61. Roberta Smith
62. Monika Sprüth & Philomene Magers
63. Germano Celant
64. Emmanuel Perrotin
65. Peter Schjeldahl
66. Beatrix Ruf
67. Okwui Enwezor
68. Nicolas Bourriaud
69. Karen & Christian Boros
70. Isabelle Graw
71. Maurizio Cattelan
72. Charles Saatchi
73. Jerry Saltz
74. Jasper Johns
75. Louise Bourgeois
76. Thaddaeus Ropac
77. Mera & Don Rubell
78. Thelma Golden
79. Sarah Morris
80. Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev
81. Anita & Poju Zabludowicz
82. Paul Schimmel
83. Jose, Alberto & David Mugrabi
84. Sadie Coles
85. Daniel Buchholz
86. Victoria Miro
87. Maureen Paley
88. Johann König
89. Nicolai Wallner
90. Maria Lind
91. Massimo De Carlo
92. Mario Cristiani, Lorenzo Fiaschi & Maurizio Rigillo
93. Rirkrit Tiravanija
94. Toby Webster
95. Long March Space
96. Nicholas Logsdail
97. Harry Blain & Graham Southern
98. Claire Hsu
99. Peter Nagy
100. Glenn Beck

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Goodbye Neo. Goodbye Leipzig.

Replacing Neo Rauch as a professor is not going as smoothly as one might have hoped here at Leipzig’s Academy Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst. As Die Tageszeitung’s Robert Schimke reports, the Cologne painter Heribert C. Ottersbach has been selected as the successor to Rauch after the international star of the Leipzig School decided to give up his professorship, due to his workload. According to Schimke, Rauch had his own favorite replacement: the Belgian artist Michaël Borremans. Yet Borremans fell through the hiring process because he does not speak German well and lives too far away from the academy.

After convincing Borremans—both a painter and a filmmaker—to apply for the Leipzig position, Rauch reportedly believed that the artist’s twin specializations would be a nod to a portion of the faculty that has no warm feelings for the traditional Leipzig school of painting, including the academy’s rector Joachim Brohm. While Brohm insists that he was not involved in the hiring process, it doesn’t help matters that Ottersbach is a friend of Brohm and one of three painting professors who come from the Brohm’s Rhineland home in western Germany.

“Already in the past,” writes Schimke, “the rector had earned the reputation of taking his network into the Leipzig professorships.” Schimke doesn’t believe that the conflict represents a mere East-West career skirmish but rather a “cultural clash,” which began as a formalist debate in the 1950s in former East Germany and in the vilifications between state-branded German Democratic Republic painters and liberal-minded painters from the West.

Another antagonism lies in the marginalization throughout the 1990s of the Leipzig painters by new media art and more discursive artistic practices. Schimke speculates that Brohm—a photographer socialized by the arts scene in the Rhine region during the ’70s and ’80s—might just be quickening the end of the Leipzig School.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Daniel Birnbaum on "Making Worlds/Fare Mondi"

La Biennale di Venezia
Making Worlds/Fare Mondi
The 53rd International Art Exhibition
Director: Daniel Birnbaum
7 June 2009 – 22 November 2009

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Fare Mondi // Making Worlds // Bantin Duniyan // 制造世界 // Weltenmachen // Construire des Mondes // Fazer Mundos…

Johann Dieter Wassmann, Et in Arcadia Ego, 1887. 20 x 16 x 12 cm.

In posts over the past several months, I’ve been looking at the terror and anxiety of history through the melancholy of Daniel Birnbaum’s 50 moons of Saturn for the Turin Triennale and more recently his soon-to-open Fare Mondi/Making Worlds for the Venice Biennale. By the 1880s, Johann Dieter Wassmann similarly found himself troubled by a deep melancholy, one which he responded to initially by retreating into the romantic past of his forefathers, a response having clear relevance today. But soon he entered into and created for himself a wholly new world, a world of modernist sensibilities leading to some of the most pioneering work of the late 19th century. From here, I’ll hand it over to Maime Stombock, quoting from her seminal essay, A Carpenter’s Tale:

“Despite his considerable achievements, Johann felt increasingly troubled as the century hastened toward its close... His suspicion that the deliberate progress of modernity was fast bearing down overwhelmed him with regular fits of fear and uncertainty. When he first caught sight of this brooding monolith his response was to back-pedal his way out of the 19th century and into his romanticized view of an earlier, less pressured era. As he came to feel more at ease with the medium of the wooden box he staged his retreat by venturing into works that he hoped might help him to combat this anguish. Here his creative impulse was most Germanic: a return to the ancient wood, with Goethe looming large, although his influences were equally eclectic. His great love of the American Transcendentalist authors Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau is apparent in several works. He had grown fond of their writings while living in Washington, D.C., where he consulted on a long overdue sewerage system for the nation’s capitol during Restoration—the first in the world to be built of concrete, a pioneering design solution born of necessity amid the poorly-drained swamplands of the Potomac.

"Whether conscious or not, his impulse to celebrate the ancient wood twenty years later can be read as an unsurprising response to the soulless concrete, brick and mortar that dominated his professional life. Johann had long found solace in the wood, a passion so deeply imbedded in the German psyche it was the subject of the Roman historian Cornelius Tacitus’ classic Germania; or, On the Origin and situation of the Germans, recorded in the year 98. For Roman readers, Germania served to explain why these primitive arcadians were such barbarians. For the Germans themselves, Tacitus’ portrayal of them as little more than arboreal hunters, gatherers and warriors was taken as a compliment. Germania eventually became a raw staple in their literary diet, all the more so after the first native translation was published in Leipzig in 1496.

“For Johann, delving into the ancient wood was an essential catharsis, just as it would be a hundred years later for his compatriot Anselm Kiefer. In a letter to his brother Wolfgang, dated November 10, 1885, Johann writes that from the moment his saw broke the grain of his rough planks of birch, oak, pine, beech, ash, walnut, elm or whatever else might be at hand, he was magically propelled through the looking glass, moving into the wood, first physically—as he cut, planed, joined and finished the timbers—and then mentally—as he deliberated what world might inhabit the inner space of these exquisite boxes.

“His experience of the wood spared none of the senses, however. The sweet freshness of pine, the acrid harshness of elm that burned the eyes and throat, the gentle pleasantries of oak: he genuinely believed as his father had that the souls of men inhabited these timbers and only by cutting into them and experiencing them fully could these souls find release. He reminded Wolfgang of the stories their father would tell them as children, the stories they would insist on hearing again and again of the family workshop in the years that followed the Battle of Leipzig, a time when their father himself was just a child. The terrible destruction of the city and surrounding villages had left such an abundance of floorboards, panelling and structural timbers that Leipzig’s woodcutters found no cause to fell a single tree for three years, instead harvesting their bounty from the rubble. But unlike fresh cut timbers, which house only old souls, August commanded to his sons that recycled timbers uniquely house the souls of those more recently departed.

“The oak parquetry of Madame Troufold’s salon, gracefully planed and mitered by their grandfather to make a small corner cupboard, had overwhelmed the workshop for a week with the perfumed elegance of a life cultured beyond their dreams. The softly worn pine floorboards of Herr Zächer’s bäckerie, despite being scrubbed with bucket and brush each morning, had brought such hunger to the journeymen when they cut into them to frame the carcass of a veneered chest of drawers that they finished their daily bread before noon, venturing out to find more before returning to their work. The walnut panelling recovered from Kapitän Brunheld’s library, the walnut that their grandfather fashioned into several fine wardrobes, had surrendered thick smoky tobacco, aged whiskey and a thousand tales of Saxon glory before the wardrobes left the shop. And the narrow ash planks from the stairway of Fräulein Nau’s bordell, the planks their grandfather had hoped to shape into dough bins, brought work to such a halt and lowered the integrity of the conversation to such a degree that he gave up in disgust, burning them as firewood, although the smoke from the fire provoked one of the men to partake in a debaucherous drinking binge lasting three days, ending with his arrest for committing unnatural acts in the public square.

“Wolfgang’s reply to his letter was that old men tell tall tales, so leave it at that, but Johann was undeterred, at least for the moment. While this period was both cathartic and crucial in defining the roots of Johann’s dissatisfaction, and while his output might seem to us today to be quite charming, within the decade he too would come to question the romantic overtones in his response.”

La Biennale di Venezia
Making Worlds
The 53rd International Art Exhibition
Director: Daniel Birnbaum
7 June 2009 – 22 November 2009

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter in Leipzig

Johann Dieter Wassmann, Nikolaikirche, Leipzig, 1894, 18 x 23 cm.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Fare Mondi // Making Worlds // Bantin Duniyan // 制造世界 // Weltenmachen // Construire des Mondes // Fazer Mundos…

Zeit-Raum (Space-Time), 1896 F
Johann Dieter Wassmann, Zeit-Raum (Space-Time), 1896. 47 x 27 x 16 cm.

Earlier today, I sat in conversation with a friend. Her five-year-old daughter approached, handing us a beautiful red Easter egg she had decorated in school. She asked if she might go outside to play.

“Five minutes, that’s all,” said her mother.

“I don’t know what that is,” her daughter said in reply. “I don’t know what five minutes is.”

If only the rest of us could say the same. What do we really know of the capriciousness of time?

Here lies the great quandary the pioneering German modernist Johann Dieter Wassmann explored in his influential and far-reaching oeuvre of the late nineteenth century.

A century on, as Daniel Birnbaum approaches the 53rd Venice Biennale with his suggestive title, Fare Mondi/Making Worlds (discussed in recent posts), the question not only arises of what sort of worlds the contemporary artist envisions, but more poignantly, how did we ever come to make the world we live in today?

The Terror of History

History, it has been argued, originated with God’s call to Abraham that he should lead the ancient Hebrews from their land, setting off on a passage of faith through the desert. This one act ignited our perception of time, by creating the anticipation of a point–a moment in time–when the Israelites might return to their “promised land.”

Time itself we allow as having begun quite distinct from history, as part and parcel of creation. For the physicist, this moment arrived with the first resounding crack of the big bang; for the theologian its origin was implicit in the opening three words of Genesis: “In the beginning ...” St. Augustine of Hippo could have been endorsing either view when, in the fifth century, he wrote: “The world was made, not in time, but simultaneously with time.”

Tony Swain, a religious studies lecturer at the University of Sydney, complicates the argument still further:

“Time... is inherently capricious; its indolent openhandedness paving the way for imperialism. Were I asked to offer a tentative typology of spatio-temporal location, I would suggest linear time was a ‘fall’ from place. History, associated quintessentially with the Hebrews, was something which intervened when the Israelites had lost their place. The covenant, God’s promise, was to reinstate place, but this was only feasible by the Godhead entering a world given over to time. From the moment God said to Abraham ‘Leave your country’, instead of their place, the Hebrews had history and a promise of a land—and Zakhor, remembrance.”

In Egypt, Moses and his band of Israelites were the fettered guests of a culture as highly developed as any on the face of this good earth, but it was a culture entrenched in place. Of the thousand gods the Egyptians worshipped, all were gods of either place or weather. When the Israelites begrudgingly heeded their own God’s call to pack up and leave Egypt, they knew theirs was a God of time, transcendent of space—one who would lead them back out into the desert without risk of losing their spirituality.

The point is mute whether this God existed as a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, or whether he merely existed in the fertile imagination of Moses. Whatever the form of this strange all-knowing God, it was the freedom from place he instilled in the Israelites that gave them the strength to cope with a life void of creature comforts—indulgences like pagan idols, golden calves and physical boundaries.

Moses’ symbolic passage through the Red Sea signalled the rebirth of Israel, with one minor delay. For forty years the Israelites would be forced to wander the desert; not until they quit their grumbling would God allow them to return. Only once they truly understood the promised land was their reward for having faith, rather than a place in which to put their faith, would they be allowed to enter the Kingdom of Israel. This Judeo-Christian transcendence of place singularly freed Western man to march forth in conquest: into the annals of time, history and anyone else’s kingdom he might like.

But historical man was not just free to march; he believed he had been given the set responsibility to do so. God had created man in his image after all. This much he knew. And man’s salvation depended on his active pursuit of perfection. This he also knew. And for Christendom this pursuit covered all of mankind, not just the chosen ones. So, as he understood it, man’s salvation depended upon the conversion of the heathen and unwashed, not only so they too could know the love of Jesus, but because salvation would only come once the whole of mankind knew, and was following, The Word. Those pagans who had not yet found Jesus were not just condemning themselves to purgatory (or worse), they were jeopardizing salvation for the rest of mankind as well.

As the Age of Discovery gave way to the Enlightenment, Western man woke up to realize there were a lot more souls out there requiring conversion than he once might have thought. Undaunted, he soon rose to the challenge, and with true missionary zeal he set about the task of remaking the world to his image of perfection—his image of God’s image, his image of himself, that is.

Enter stage left René Descartes, Adam Smith, et al, and again Western philosophy provided man with the means to carry out God’s will. Out of the darkness of feudal Europe came a freedom of thought and deed in keeping with Christianity’s resurrected pursuit of perfection, while providing the basis for the modern capitalist state. Where the Crusades had introduced Christianity by the sword, the free flow of goods and capital advocated by the modern state made the way clear for a modestly more benevolent flow of ideas, among them those ideas pertinent to the spread of Christianity.

The dual responsibilities of perfection and conversion pursued by Christendom were well served by the needs of the capitalist state, for both kingdoms were driven by a hunger for raw materials and new markets. Hand in hand, the industrialist and the missionary could march forth, knowing their causes were not dissimilar; and should trouble ensue, the state was there to back them up or bail them out. So march they did.

As the great evangelical push mounted steam, and mission schools were established across Africa, the Pacific islands and into New Zealand and Australia, the first thing natives were taught wasn’t the love of Jesus or the wrath of God, but how to tell time. And not just how to read a clock to make it to class on time. Rather, they were taught the conceptual notion of minutes adding up to hours, hours dividing the day, days generating weeks and months, and months culminating into years—one year following the next.

Every culture has its own explanation for why day turns into night and seasons flow into years, but they are most often perceived cyclically, so the missionary’s task was much more than just a case of filling in the gaps with these additional demarcations of time. Regardless of faith, these men of God understood the most fundamental tenant in the Judeo-Christian tradition was the linearity of time, serving as it did as a mechanism for advancing the progress of history. They knew on the most basic level—even before language was fully bridged—that efforts to instruct on the teachings of Christianity were meaningless without first conveying the linear nature of Newtonian time.

The sustenance for modern man’s faith in an infinite progress he drew from his belief in the constancy of a rapidly unfolding future—a future-as-resource serving to fuel the military and economic dreams of the present. And only a conviction that the future was infinite could keep the prophesy self-fulfilling. Although, having said that, the prophesy was never wholly fulfilled, for as Kafka said, “To believe in progress is not to believe that progress has already taken place. That would be no belief.”

Progress had become, by this point, modern man’s beloved opiate, his one true religion. The faith that nourished his restless soul lay not in the memory of yesterday, or in the relief of today, but in the promise of a new tomorrow.

What brought the modern era to its close was the overriding angst man felt in the emptiness of this promise. His angst was born out to the full on September 11, 2001, when members of a radical Islamic sect slammed the terror of their own history headlong into the terror of Western history.

The purveyors of these tandem histories—histories that had been watchfully interwoven into the fabric of modernity for some 500 years—henceforth believed that there would be only one victor and that this victor and no other would go on to consciously and voluntarily create the history of tomorrow. But what hope is left for the history of tomorrow when its only promise is a long and intractable terror? With his angst utterly realized, modern man’s chief paradigm today lies in precipitous jeopardy.

The Conceit of Time

But it did not have to be so. In 1905 Albert Einstein revolutionized the world of physics with the publication of his special theory of relativity, although its implications were slow to sink into the rest of Western human endeavour. What modern man understood Einstein to be saying was that time and space aren’t fixed or readily determinable; they are, in fact, infinitely variable. And while they do exist in a relative sense, there is nothing absolute in their nature. They are instead interwoven, making one quite inseparable from the other. So time exists for me in the space I occupy, and time exists for you in the space you occupy, but there were no grounds for the then-held belief that time existed commonly and universally for the both of us.

That which modern man had known and thought of as time for so long was certainly no less real than the printing press or the motor car, but nor was it any less a product of his own invention. What time was not was some universal law governing the even flow of our physical world.

To remove Einstein’s theory from the theoretical and prove it, of course, meant doing things like sending a twenty-year-old identical twin off in a space ship at very nearly the speed of light for two years (in his time), and have him return to find his brother a very old man living comfortably in Tucson, Arizona with the rest of the feeble old scientists who had shot him off into the ether seventy years earlier (in their time) in the first place. So, in lieu of such an experiment taking place, it was easier for non-physicists to put Einstein and his theories on the back burner for the time being.

Three years after the publication of Einstein’s seminal paper, his mentor and one-time teacher, Hermann Minkowski, gave a lecture in Cologne elaborating on his former student’s findings, beginning with the proclamation that,

“Henceforth space by itself, and time by itself, are doomed to fade away into mere shadows, and only a kind of union of the two will preserve an independent reality.”

What Minkowski couldn’t predict was how painfully long it would take for our Newtonian belief in fixed time to actually fade into mere shadows.

For Johann Dieter Wassmann, these winds of change arrived some years earlier, in September of 1889 to be exact. On the 18th of the month, he had chance to travel north from Leipzig to Potsdam for a joint conference with colleagues from the University of Berlin. There he met the newly appointed 31-year-old physics lecturer Max Planck, who would go on to originate quantum theory, winning him the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1918. Planck was presenting a paper at the conference on the second law of thermodynamics, which had been the subject of his doctoral thesis. Planck’s appointment had raised many an eyebrow, as he was reputed to shun all laboratory, clinical or field research in favor of something he was calling theoretical physics.

According to Johann’s diaries, Planck opened the lecture by addressing this very issue. Planck expressed that his “original decision to devote myself to science was a direct result of the discovery... that the laws of human reasoning coincide with the laws governing the sequences of the impressions we receive from the world about us; that, therefore, pure reasoning can enable man to gain an insight into the mechanism of the world.”

This was sounding more like philosophy than science, which appealed to Johann, given the penchant of most of his colleagues for wholly distancing themselves from the arts. In explaining why he had chosen to pursue the theoretical, Planck argued that the very existence of physical laws allows us to presuppose that the “outside world is something independent from man, something absolute, and the quest for the laws which apply to this absolute appeared... as the most sublime scientific pursuit in life.” Could it be, a romantic with an eye on the future? Johann was at once intrigued with the prospect.

If he had uncovered anything in his reading in recent months, it was that his constant anxiety stemmed from an unease with the surgical precision with which man had learned to separate time from his perception of space, a conviction having its roots in the same Enlightenment Johann had so long idealized. He also came to appreciate that modern man’s Newtonian perception of a clockwork universe was rapidly merging with the uglier side of social Darwinism, giving rise to a grossly deterministic revelation of progress. Might makes right was now the watch-cry of presidents, foreign ministers and industrialists alike. The resultant restructuring of individual societies, political systems and world trading patterns based on the availability of labour, resources and capital, placed a premium on time at the very expense of space, while in the same breath commodifying space at the expense of the natural environment. And no one knew better what atrocities the duopoly of industrialization and urbanization wrought on the environment and the human condition than the man made responsible for sanitizing these conditions—Johann Dieter Wassmann—one of Europe’s most respected sewerage engineers.

His reading earlier in the year had led him to suspect the answers he was looking for might well rest somewhere or somewhen in the indeterminate future, rather than where and when he had been looking—in the fictive past. He spoke briefly with Planck after the lecture, outlining his concerns, asking Planck whether the second law of thermodynamics, the entropy law—the law which argues that every closed system tends toward a state of total disorder or chaos—might equally apply to societal systems.

Societal systems aren’t closed, was Planck’s terse reply, but he was nonetheless intrigued by Johann’s suggestion. Planck proposed they begin a correspondence to explore this issue further, but advised Johann to first read Ernst Mach’s The Science of Mechanics (1883), as well as his more controversial Analysis of Sensations (1886). While the latter stands in conflict with many of Planck’s own arguments about the role of the theoretical in science, he felt its excellent refutation of Newtonian physics might help Johann overcome the hurdles he was currently struggling with.

Johann soon found that Mach argues all knowledge is derived from sensation. Consequently, all scientific investigation is beholden to the experience, or “sensations,” of the observer in his encounters with phenomena. Further elaboration on this point allowed Mach to categorically reject the Newtonian notion of absolute space and time, laying the groundwork for Albert Einstein’s special theory of relativity. Johann was ecstatic; not only did Mach provide the means by which he might restore the unity of space and time—at least within his own thinking—but he could do so without relying on the past and without abandoning his faith in the universal power of sensation.

“I don’t know what five minutes is,” says the child with her beautiful red Easter egg.

If only the rest of us could understand this, we might not have made the world we’re now stuck with.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Artists announced for Venice Biennale

Venice, 23rd March 2009 (press release)

The 53rd International Art Exhibition, entitled Fare Mondi // Making Worlds // Bantin Duniyan // 制造世界 // Weltenmachen // Construire des Mondes // Fazer Mundos…, directed by Daniel Birnbaum (pictured), organized by La Biennale di Venezia chaired by Paolo Baratta, will open to the public from Sunday June, 7th to Sunday November, 22nd 2009 in the Giardini (50,000 sq.m.) and the Arsenale (38,000 sq.m.) as well as in various other locations around the city. The press preview will take place on June 4th, 5th, and 6th 2009.

The Director of the 53rd Exhibition, Daniel Birnbaum, has been Rector of the Staedelschule Frankfurt/Main and its Kunsthalle Portikus since 2001. Fare Mondi // Making Worlds, presented in the renewed Palazzo delle Esposizioni in the Giardini and in the Arsenale, is a single, large exhibition that articulates different themes woven into one whole. It is not divided into sections. Considering collectives, it comprises works by over 90 artists from all over the world and includes many new works and on-site commissions in all disciplines.

“The title of the exhibition, Fare Mondi // Making Worlds,” says Director Daniel Birnbaum, “expresses my wish to emphasize the process of creation. A work of art represents a vision of the world and if taken seriously it can be seen as a way of making a world. The strength of the vision is not dependent on the kind or complexity of the tools brought into play. Hence all forms of artistic expression are present: installation art, video and film, sculpture, performance, painting and drawing, and a live parade. Taking 'worldmaking' as a starting point, also allows the exhibition to highlight the fundamental importance of certain key artists for the creativity of successive generations, just as much as exploring new spaces for art to unfold outside the institutional context and beyond the expectations of the art market. Fare Mondi // Making Worlds is an exhibition driven by the aspiration to explore worlds around us as well as worlds ahead. It is about possible new beginnings—this is what I would like to share with the visitors of the Biennale.”

For the direction of the exhibition Daniel Birnbaum is supported by Jochen Volz, artistic organization. Additional advice is provided by an international team of correspondents consisting of Savita Apte, Tom Eccles, Hu Fang, and Maria Finders.

On the occasion of the 53rd International Art Exhibition – the Venice Biennale Foundation inaugurates a number of important structural and organisational developments:

At the Arsenale, the Italian Pavilion has been enlarged from 800 to 1,800 square meters, now opening out to the Giardino delle Vergini and adjacent to a new public entrance. Here a newly constructed bridge links the far side of the Arsenale to the Sestiere di Castello. This renewed Italian Pavilion will be reserved for exhibitions organised by the Italian Ministry for Cultural Affairs. The Italian participation at the 53rd International Art Exhibition is curated by Beatrice Buscaroli and Luca Beatrice. Furthermore, the Arsenale’s exhibition spaces have been extended by developing a larger part of the Giardino delle Vergini (Garden of the Virgins), now measuring 6,000 square meters and offering an enchanting new exhibition space for the main exhibition.

In the Giardini, the historic Italian Pavilion has been renamed Palazzo delle Esposizioni della Biennale and extensively transformed, now providing a permanent exhibition and multi-functional venue opened to the public throughout the year. The transformed Palazzo delle Esposizioni includes a newly refurbished wing housing the library of the Historic Archives of Contemporary Arts (ASAC), made available again to the public after ten years of closure. The Archive comprises documents, books, catalogues and periodicals, freely consultable by researchers and exhibition visitors. Apart from exhibition spaces, the Palazzo delle Esposizioni also comprises a new bookstore, a new café and new spaces for educational activities, respectively designed by three artists participating in the main exhibition. The Palazzo delle Esposizioni will therefore become an important platform for the Foundation’s permanent activities and a point of reference for the other Pavilions in the Giardini.

Ca’ Giustinian, the beautiful 15th century palace on the Canale Grande near San Marco and the traditional site of the Foundation’s headquarters, will reopen in June after several years of renovation. Apart from housing the offices of the Biennale, it will then also become an “open house” for the general public, among others boosting a café on the Grand Canal.

The Awards and Opening Ceremony of the 53rd International Art Exhibition will take place on Saturday, June 6th in the Giardini. Following Director’s suggestion, the President and the Board of the Foundation are this year awarding two Golden Lions for Lifetime Achievement , one to Yoko Ono and one to John Baldessari.

The other Golden Lion Awards – the Golden Lion for Best National Participation of the 53rd International Art Exhibition; the Golden Lion for the Best Artist of the exhibition Fare Mondi // Making Worlds; and the Silver Lion for a Promising Young Artist of the exhibition Fare Mondi // Making Worlds – will be selected by an International Jury chaired by Angela Vettese (Italy), and comprising Jack Bankowsky (USA), Homi K. Bhabha (India), Sarat Maharaj (South Africa), and Julia Voss (Germany).

The National Participations of the 53rd International Art Exhibition, presented in the historical Pavilions in the Giardini, in selected areas of the Arsenale and in numerous venues throughout the city, are this year amounting to the record number of 77 Nations participating, including first-time participations of Montenegro, Principality of Monaco, Republic of Gabon, Union of Comoros, and United Arab Emirates.

Furthermore there is a record number of 38 Collateral Events, proposed by international organizations and institutions, which will organize their own exhibitions and initiatives in Venice during the occasion.

Inaugurating the renovated headquarters of the Biennale as yet another exhibition venue, The Vision Machine: Futurists in the Biennale will be presented at Ca’ Giustinian from June to November 2009. The exhibition explores the presence of Futurist artists, ideas and works in the Biennale. Curated by IUAV, International Semiotics Laboratory Venice, it is the result of a research undertaken at the Historic Archive of the Contemporary Arts (ASAC).

The two volume catalogue of the 53rd International Art Exhibition will be published by Marsilio.

Participating Artists:

Jumana Emil Abboud
Born in Shefa-Amer, Palestine, 1971
Lives and works in Jerusalem, Israel

Georges Adéagbo
Born in Cotonou, Benin, 1942
Lives and works in Cotonou, Benin

John Baldessari
Born in National City, USA, 1931
Lives and works in Santa Monica, USA

Rosa Barba
Born in Agrigento, Italy, 1972
Lives and works in Berlin, Germany

Massimo Bartolini
Born in Cecina, Italy, 1962
Lives and works in Cecina, Italy

Thomas Bayrle
Born in Berlin, Germany, 1937
Lives and works in Frankfurt, Germany

Simone Berti
Born in Adria, Italy, 1966
Lives and works in Milan and Berlin, Germany

Bestué /Vives
Born in Barcelona, Spain, 1980
Born in Barcelona, Spain, 1978
They live and work in Barcelona, Spain

Mike Bouchet
Born in Castro Valley, USA, 1970
Lives and works in Frankfurt, Germany

Ulla Von Brandenburg
Born in Karlsruhe, Germany, 1974
Lives and works in Paris, France

André Cadere
Warsaw, Poland, 1934 - Paris, France, 1978

Paul Chan
Born in Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 1973
Lives and works in New York, USA

Chen Zhen
Shanghai, China, 1955 – Paris, France, 2000

Nikhil Chopra
Born in Calcutta, India, 1974
Lives and works in Mumbai, India

Chu Yun
Born in Jiangxi, China, 1977
Lives and works in Beijing, China

Tony Conrad
Born in Concord, USA, 1940
Lives and works in Buffalo and New York, USA

Keren Cytter
Born in Tel Aviv, Israel, 1977
Lives and works in Berlin, Germany

Nathalie Djurberg
Born in Lysekil, Sweden, 1978
Lives and works in Berlin, Germany

Anju Dodiya
Born in Mumbai, India, 1964
Lives and works in Mumbai, India

Gino De Dominicis
Ancona, Italy, 1947 – Roma, Italy, 1998

Elena Elagina, Igor Makarevich
Born in Moscow,Russia, 1949
Born in Trialety, Georgia, 1943
They live and work in Moscow, Russia

Öyvind Fahlström
São Paulo, Brazil, 1928 – Stockholm, Sweden, 1976

Lara Favaretto
Born in Treviso, Italy, 1973
Lives and works in Turin, Italy

Hans-Peter Feldmann
Born in Düsseldorf, Germany, 1941
Lives and works in Düsseldorf, Germany

Spencer Finch
Born in New Haven, USA, 1962
Lives and works in New York, USA

Ceal Floyer
Born in Karachi, Pakistan, 1968
Lives and works in Berlin, Germany

William Forsythe
Born in New York, USA, 1949
Lives and works in Frankfurt, Germany

Yona Friedman
Born in Budapest, Hungary, 1923
Lives and works in Paris , France

Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster
Born in Strasbourg, France, 1965
Lives and works in Paris, France

Sheela Gowda
Born in Bhadravati, India, 1957
Lives and works in Bangalore, India

Tamara Grcic
Born in Munich, Germany, 1964
Lives and works in Frankfurt, Germany


Akira Kanayama
Nara, Japan, 1924 – Nara, Japan, 2005

Sadamasa Motonaga
Born in Iga, Japan, 1922
Lives and works in Takarazuka City, Japan

Saburo Murakami
Kobe, Japan, 1925 – Nishinomiya, Japan, 1996

Shozo Shimamoto
Born in Osaka, Japan, 1928
Lives and works in Kyoto, Japan

Kazuo Shiraga
Amagasaki, Japan, 1924 – Amagasaki, Japan, 2008

Atsuko Tanaka
Nara, Japan, 1932 – Nara, Japan, 2005

Tsuruko Yamazaki
Born in Ashiya, Japan, 1925
Lives and works in Ashiya, Japan

Jiro Yoshihara
Osaka, Japan, 1905 – Ashiya, Japan, 1972

Michio Yoshihara
Ashiya, Japan, 1933 – Ashiya, Japan, 1996

Born in Indiana, USA, 1972
Born in Georgia, USA, 1969
They live and work in New York, USA

Gonkar Gyatso
Born in Lhasa, Tibet, 1961
Lives and works in London, Great Britain

Jan Håfström
Born in Stockholm, Sweden, 1937
Lives and works in Stockholm, Sweden

Anawana Haloba
Born in Livingstone, Zambia,1978
Lives and works in Oslo, Norway

Rachel Harrison
Born in New York, USA, 1966
Lives and works in New York, USA

Susan Hefuna
Born in Cairo, Egypt, 1962
Lives and works in Egypt and Germany

Carsten Höller
Born in Brussels, Belgium, 1961
Lives and works in Stockholm, Sweden

Huang Yong Ping
Born in Quanzhou, China, 1954
Lives and works in Paris, France

Joan Jonas
Born in New York, USA, 1965
Lives and works in New York, USA

Miranda July
Born in Barre, USA, 1974
Lives and works in Los Angeles, USA

Rachel Khedoori
Born in Sydney, Australia, 1964
Lives and works in Los Angeles, USA

Toba Khedoori
Born in Sydney, Australia, 1964
Lives and works in Los Angeles, USA

Koo Jeong A.
Born in Seoul, Korea, 1967
Lives and works in Paris, France

Moshekwa Langa
Born in Bakenburg, South Africa, 1975
Lives and works in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Arto Lindsay
Born in Richmond, USA, 1953
Lives and works in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

Renata Lucas
Born in Ribeirao Preto, Brazil, 1971
Lives and works in Sao Paulo, Brazil

Goshka Macuga
Born in Warsaw, Poland, 1967
Lives and works in London, Great Britain

Gordon Matta-Clark
New York, USA, 1943 – New York, USA, 1978

Cildo Meireles
Born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 1948
Lives and works in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Aleksandra Mir
Born in Lubin, Poland, 1967
Lives and works in Palermo, Italy

Moscow Poetry Club

Yoko Ono
Born in Tokyo, Japan, 1933
Lives and works in New York, USA

Jorge Otero-Pailos
Born in Madrid, Spain, 1971
Lives and works in New York, USA

Blinky Palermo
Leipzig, Germany, 1943 - Kurumba, Maldives, 1977

Lygia Pape
Novo Friburgo, Brazil, 1927 – Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, 2004

Anna Parkina
Born in Moscow, Russia, 1979
Lives and works in Moscow, Russia

Philippe Parreno
Born in Oran, Algeria, 1964
Lives and works in Paris, France

Pavel Pepperstein
Born in Moscow, Russia, 1966
Lives and works in Moscow, Russia

Alessandro Pessoli
Born in Cervia, Italy, 1963
Lives and works in Milan, Italy

Falke Pisano
Born in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 1978
Lives and works in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Michelangelo Pistoletto
Born in Biella, Italy, 1933
Lives and works in Biella, Italy

Att Poomtangon
Born in Bangkok, Thailand, 1973
Lives and works in Frankfurt and Chiangmai, Thailand

Marjetica Potrč
Born in Ljubljana, Slovenia, 1953
Lives and works in Ljubljana, Slovenia

Sara Ramo
Born in Madrid, Spain, 1975
Lives and works in Paris, France

Tobias Rehberger
Born in Esslingen, Germany, 1966
Lives and works in Frankfurt, Germany

Pietro Roccasalva
Born in Modica, Italy, 1970
Lives and works in Milan, Italy

Tomas Saraceno
Born in Tucuman, Argentina, 1973
Lives and works in Frankfurt, Germany

Amy Simon
Born in New York, USA, 1957
Lives and works in Stockholm and Tel Aviv, Israel

Simon Starling
Born in Epsom, Great Britain, 1967
Lives and works in Copenhagen and Berlin, Germany

Pascale Marthine Tayou
Born in Kamerun, Africa, 1967
Lives and works in Brussels, Belgium

Wolfgang Tillmans
Born in Remscheid, Germany, 1968
Lives and works in London, Great Britain

Rirkrit Tiravanija
Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1961
Lives and works in New York, USA

Grazia Toderi
Born in Padua, Italy, 1963
Lives and works in Milan, Italy

Madelon Vriesendorp
Born in Bilthoven, The Netherlands, 1945
Lives and works in London, Great Britain

Tian Tian Wang
Born in Qingdao, China, 1980
Lives and works in Berlin, Germany

Richard Wentworth
Born in Samoa, Oceania, 1947
Lives and works in London, Great Britain

Pae White
Born in Pasadena, USA, 1963
Lives and works in Los Angeles, USA

Cerith Wyn Evans & Florian Hecker
Born in Llanelli, Wales, 1958
Born in Augsburg, Germany, 1975
Lives and works in London, Great Britain
Lives and works in Vienna, Austria

Xu Tan
Born in Wuhan, China, 1957
Lives and works in Shanghai and Guangzhou, China

Haegue Yang
Born in Seoul, Korea, 1971
Lives and works in Berlin and Seoul, Korea

Héctor Zamora
Born in Mexico City, Mexico, 1974
Lives and works in São Paulo, Brazil

Anya Zholud
Born in Saint Petersburg, Russia, 1981
Lives and works in Moscow, Russia

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Fare Mondi // Making Worlds // Bantin Duniyan // 制造世界 // Weltenmachen // Construire des Mondes // Fazer Mundos…

At this curious place in time, the once exuberant art world stands stunned and bedazzled — like a deer in the glaring headlights of the oncoming global financial crisis. The inability of the art world to respond in any meaningful way is testament to the cul-de-sac it has been driving headily and headlong into in recent years.

In a debate last week at New York’s Rockefeller University, the proposition was put forward that “the art market is less ethical than the stock market.” Speaking against were Christie’s deputy chair Amy Cappellazzo, painter Chuck Close, and critic Jerry Saltz. Despite their humour, charm and best efforts, the proposition was carried: 55 percent for, 33 percent against, with 12 percent undecided.

In the most recent Sunday New York Times, Holland Cotter sums up our current state in an article titled “The Boom is Over. Long Live the Art!” He writes, “ethical firewalls are not this industry’s style.”

In these depths of winter, the art world sits by the fire, lost and befuddled, reading Sarah Thornton's Seven Days in the Art World, pining in remembrance of things past.

Few industries have been left more exposed and bereft by their own inadequacies than the art world. On Monday, Standard & Poor’s warned that it may cut its rating of Sotheby’s bonds to below investment grade, a rating known appropriately as “junk.” Much the same could be said for the industry at large.

In further news out of New York this week, Guild & Greyshkul closed its doors on Tuesday, following on from the recent closures of Roebling Hall and Cohan and Leslie in Chelsea; Rivington Arms in the East Village and 31 Grand on the Lower East Side.

The moral failure of the art market is by no means peculiar to New York City. Writing in the New Statesman earlier this month, Alice O’Keeffe observes, “I remember, in March 2007, going to see Tony Blair make a speech on the arts at Tate Modern, in which he boldly claimed to have presided over a cultural ‘golden age’. The arts, he told the gathered great and good, were a vital component of Britain's continued economic success: ‘A nation that cares about art will not just be a better nation. In the early 21st century, it will be a more successful one.’

“In new Labour parlance, the arts had become the ‘creative industries’. Like bankers and stockbrokers, artists were expected to prop up the wobbly edifice of consumer capitalism, to generate profit, attract tourists, help Britain market itself as a cultural — and therefore financial — ‘hub’.

“Placing culture firmly at the service of finance had its advantages for the arts administrators in the audience, too, as it gave them a clear claim on their slice of the government pie. Blair's speech was received with enthusiastic applause and was followed by polite questions about future funding. Nobody asked whether generating cash was an appropriate raison d'être for the arts — let alone what, if anything, a man who holidayed with the Bee Gees and Cliff Richard could tell us about cultural value.”

Here in Leipzig, it’s been hard, if not impossible, to tell the collector from the curator over the past year. The city’s Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst (Gallery of Contemporary Art) has faced stinging criticism for hosting a series of exhibitions giving dealers, collectors and corporate art collections total freedom to display their works as they wish. Chris Dercon, the director of the Haus der Kunst in Munich, describes the initiative, entitled “Carte Blanche”, as “exactly the kind of thing that we do not need in public galleries”. 
The GfZK, which is a public-private partnership, receives much of its funding from public sources. It has now ceded curatorial control of half of its galleries until 2010. 
Many German museum directors, including myself, have expressed disquiet at the exhibitions which will give commercial galleries such as Leipzig’s Dogenhaus and Eigen + Art free run of the museum space.
 Further exhibitions will be drawn from collections assembled by the publishers Leipziger Verlags, industrialist Arend Oetker and his wife Brigitte; consultant Klaus and Doris Schmidt; and collectors Leon Janucek, and Vivian and Horst Schmitter. The costs are being met by the private participants, who may display the works as they please.

Quoted in The Art Newspaper, Dr. Dercon points out, “You can raise questions about public and private museums, but what we need to discuss is the usurping of intellectual power by the commercial world.” Dr Dercon criticises these contemporary collectors, saying many viewed art collections as “luxury goods”. He adds, “We all deal, with private collectors and many, especially old master collectors, have been generous with loans, gifts and sharing scholarship, much more so, in fact, than many contemporary art collectors.” 
But he questions the Leipzig initiative, saying “it may be intelligent [politically] but it is not intellectual and if we are trying to find a way to work with the private sector, this is not it. It is partly an issue of public responsibility and partly an issue of transparency. One of the biggest problems in the art world is that the same people can be critics, curators, dealers, crypto-collectors, even museum directors. I don’t think this is going to shed much light on what is an opaque situation.”

The challenge facing Swedish curator Daniel Birnbaum, as he plans this summer’s Venice Biennale — and many other curators as they prepare upcoming events — is to prove they’re anything more than yesterday’s junk bond dealers. Will the goods they have on offer provide any real meaning to a world teetering on the brink of Depression, or are they just so many more Bernie Madoffs, peddling their Ponzi schemes as they have in recent years.

The greater challenge, however, falls upon artists themselves. The collapse of the art market has meant a realignment of power, with once mighty gatekeepers now unemployed also-rans and artists back in the studio facing an enviable blank canvas on which to build a new world.

As Holland Cotter writes, “This has happened more than once in the recent past. Art has changed as a result. And in every case it has been artists who have reshaped the game. At the same time, if the example of past crises holds true, artists can also take over the factory, make the art industry their own. Collectively and individually they can customize the machinery, alter the modes of distribution, adjust the rate of production to allow for organic growth, for shifts in purpose and direction. They can daydream and concentrate. They can make nothing for a while, or make something and make it wrong, and fail in peace, and start again…

“But there will be many, many changes for art and artists in the years ahead. Trying to predict them is like trying to forecast the economy. You can only ask questions. The 21st century will almost certainly see consciousness-altering changes in digital access to knowledge and in the shaping of visual culture. What will artists do with this?

“Will the art industry continue to cling to art’s traditional analog status, to insist that the material, buyable object is the only truly legitimate form of art, which is what the painting revival of the last few years has really been about? Will contemporary art continue to be, as it is now, a fancyish Fortunoff’s, a party supply shop for the Love Boat crew? Or will artists — and teachers, and critics — jump ship, swim for land that is still hard to locate on existing maps and make it their home and workplace?

“I’m not talking about creating ’60s-style utopias; all those notions are dead and gone and weren’t so great to begin with. I’m talking about carving out a place in the larger culture where a condition of abnormality can be sustained, where imagining the unknown and the unknowable — impossible to buy or sell — is the primary enterprise. Crazy! says anyone with an ounce of business sense.

“Right. Exactly. Crazy.”

Monday, February 16, 2009

Palestine c/o Venice

Palestine c/o Venice marks the first Palestinian participation at the Venice Biennale. Rather than adopt one theme, the exhibition takes on a conceptual framework that embraces the Palestinian people questioning the disproportionate use of the media image of nameless faces and voiceless people. Two of the art projects are collaborative interventions with diverse Palestinian communities whose members will travel to Venice to participate in the art performance and/or the Symposium.

In the same spirit, it is appropriate and necessary to insure that the Palestinian communities under siege, unable to obtain travel passes, join in celebrating the first Palestinian exhibition at the Venice Biennale. In this respect, six Palestinian art institutions in Palestine will exhibit duplicates of the art works, thereby allowing Palestinian audiences to participate in the opening of the exhibition simultaneously to its opening in Venice. The Palestinian venues are: A.M. Qattan Foundation, Birzeit University Art Museum, Al-Hoash Palestinian Art court, International Academy of Art Palestine, Al Ma'mal Foundation for Contemporary Art, and Riwaq Center for Architectural Conservation.

The seven participating artists, commissioned to create new works, were chosen for their outstanding commitment to their art and their ability to bridge local and global themes. Among them are emerging and established artists. They employ diverse techniques including sound installation, multimedia performance installation, site specific work, animation, photography, and video. Their art references Palestinian issues within an international artistic discourse. It is self-reflexive on the artistic process outside the boundaries of the traditional exhibition space, tackles themes ranging from the epistemology of the concept of biennales to the dialogue of cultures within architecture and urban design, and explores visual perception of objects in the mechanical state, marginality via the structural geography of the refugee camp, and the activation of an almost non-exiting community discourse on the colonialist socio-spatial reconfiguration of urban centers.

Participating Artists
Taysir Batniji, lives and works in Paris
Shadi HabibAllah, lives and works in Ramallah
Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti, live and work in Bethlehem
Jawad Al Malhi, lives and work in Jerusalem
Emily Jacir, lives and works in Ramallah/New York
Khalil Rabah, lives and works in Ramallah
Curator: Salwa Mikdadi, Independent Curator based in Berkeley, CA
Commissioner: Vittorio Urbani, Director Nuova Icona

Symposium: Conversations
Date: June 5th, 2009 9:30 until 5:00 pm
Free Admission. Limited seating, early registration required

Issues to be discussed will focus on art in the time of perpetual crisis, the role artists play in civil society as activist and as catalysts of democratic discourse, and the artists' activation of public spaces as alternative venues in the absence of museums and state support.

Symposium participants include the artists as well as art historian Yazid Anani (Birzeit University, W. Bank), Kamal Boullata (artist & art historian), Salwa Mikdadi, Vittorio Urbani, Tina Sherwell (art historian and director of The International Academy of Art Palestine), Jack Persekian (curator, al Ma'mal Foundation for the Arts, Jerusalem & artistic director of the Sharjah Biennale) architects Suad Al Amiry (Director, Riwaq Center for Architectural Conservation) and Farhat Yousef (Head of Planning Unit, Riwaq), Ramallah.

Making Worlds
Director: Daniel Birnbaum
La Biennale di Venezia
7 June 2009 – 22 November 2009

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Making Worlds, Building Bridges at the Venice Biennale

A project that will redefine the exhibition venues at the Arsenale and Giardini was approved by the Biennale Board on 12th December. At the Arsenale, the Italian Pavilion in the Tese delle Vergini area will be enlarged, expanding into another facility and facing the adjoining Giardino delle Vergini. The Pavilion will be linked by a new entrance to the Arsenale via a bridge to be built between the Garden and the Castello neighbourhood. The board is hoping the renewal will be in place for the 53rd International Art Exhibition (7th June - 22nd November 2009).

The Biennale intends to rename this new facility as "Padiglione Italia". The Board also proposed the City Council to change the name of the historical building in the Giardini area, that is to bear the name of "Palazzo delle Esposizioni" of the Venice Biennale. This will emphasize its new nature, considering that this facility will be open all year round both for exhibitions and for the audience.

La Biennale di Venezia
Making Worlds
The 53rd International Art Exhibition
Director: Daniel Birnbaum
7 June 2009 – 22 November 2009

Friday, December 12, 2008

Whitney Announces Curators for 2010 Biennial

Carol Vogel reports in today's New York Times that Francesco Bonami and Gary Carrion-Murayari have been selected as curators for the 2010 Whitney Biennial. Bonami, fifty-three, is a seasoned Italian-born curator with an international reputation, while Carrion-Murayari, twenty-eight, is a homegrown senior curatorial assistant. Bonami will serve as curator for the biennial, with Carrion-Murayari acting as associate curator.

“It seemed like a good fit on a lot of levels,” said Donna De Salvo, the Whitney’s chief curator. “Francesco is well known to the Whitney”—he helped organize the Rudolf Stingel retrospective in 2007—“and he has been thinking about and looking at biennials. Gary is about investing in a younger generation of curators. Not youth for youth’s sake but tapping into the way they see.”

This year, the biennial spilled over into the Park Avenue Armory for part of its run. At other times, it has spread into Central Park. The 2010 edition, it seems, will be a more concentrated affair, occupying only the museum’s landmark Marcel Breuer home. The two men also said they were considering weaving works from the Whitney’s holdings into the biennial, which would be a departure. “We have talked about using the permanent collection,” Carrion-Murayari said. “We definitely want to consider it.”

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Abu Dhabi to Stage Independent Exhibition at Venice Biennale

Abu Dhabi—Although the United Arab Emirates as a whole will have its first-ever pavilion at the next Venice Biennale, from June 7 – November 22, 2009, Abu Dhabi has announced it will mount its own independent exhibition as well, reports Artnet. The show's goal is to represent the "contemporary visual arts and culture from the perspective of Abu Dhabi and beyond."

The Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture & Heritage has tapped Paris–based curator Catherine David to organize a "Platform for Venice" for the biennale, which will see her produce a survey of the city "visually interpreted by photographers, artists, and filmmakers from the region and abroad." David directed Documenta 10 in Kassel in 1994–97, the Witte de With Centre for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam in 2002–04, and will curate the 2009 Lyon Biennial. (ARTINFO)

La Biennale di Venezia
Making Worlds
The 53rd International Art Exhibition
Director: Daniel Birnbaum
7 June 2009 – 22 November 2009