All Entries: July 2012

Holding the Paradox
7th edition of the Berlin Biennale

curator: Artur
associated curator: Joanna Warsza and Voina, Art Collective


7th Berlin Biennale: Day of Action – Occupy Berlin – video: David Rych


by Emilio Fantin

I found these words of Artur Żmijewski in an interesting press kit:

“The concept of the 7th Berlin Biennal is quite straightforward and can be condensed into a single sentence: we present art that actually works, makes its mark on reality and opens a space where politics can be performed. These works create political events regardless of whether they deal with urgent problems in society or the long-term politics of memory. The “key areas” of our interest are: the political effectiveness of art, the activity of the engaged “intelligentsia” and the creative class (artists in particular), their reactions to the important social issues, as well as the way art is employed to construct historical narratives. We have also worked with artists whose views are radically different from our own and who support political forces that some of us might even consider dangerous. What is at stake here is to present these positions and, if possible to even influence their ideological agendas and goals, rather than keeping a safe and dignified distance.”

Occupy Biennale photos: ©Massimo Marchetti

The Berlin Biennale, like some other exhibitions I have seen in the last few years, proposes a very strong topic: how art can contribute, support and act politically on social issues. In the KW Institute of Contemporary Art it is not possible to find a single object of art. On the contrary, the various rooms are set up with installations made for practicing politics and actions of antagonism against the State and the institutions. But as we are inside the KW Institute of Contemporary Art, an ambiguity arises between the attitude of political antagonism and the fact that the installations are hosted inside an institution. The curators are pleased to be the artificers of this ambiguous situation where, in good faith, they have tried to transform an art context into a political arena, but the most interesting things cannot be attributed to the idea of their curator, but to the ability of the single visitor (the observer) to discover some unexpected situations that arise casually from this situation; some anomalies unknown to the curators and out of their control. This is a great merit of the curators, whether they are aware or not. And I am not sarcastic in stating that!

The biggest statue of Jesus Christ. Mirosław Patecki

The dialectic conflict between the idea of art as production of values, which celebrate an individual and egocentric expression, and the idea of art as a production of social and political values and their pragmatic actuation, through a process of sharing ideas and relationships, does not have a solution. The strict capitalistic rule of the celebration of the subject as the individual development of the being on one side, and the political and social investigations about a plural subject on the other side, divides people in two different parties. Those who are convinced that art has to follow a linear and progressive development of the idea of individual profit (defining an art work as an immaterial commodity) and those who think that art has to be an instrument for social and political change (even without the production of any good) must be conceived together.  It is not possible to support only one option, because one needs the other. Something is defined as an art work, when it is part of a precise system of reference (the art system): it doesn’t matter if it is a political presidium as “occupy Berlin” or a series of documentaries about demonstrations and actions for human rights or political claims. The art system that reflects the rules and the goals of a capitalistic approach needs a single project, or artist, to reward. It is superfluous if this artist acts for denouncing a lack of human right, or a need of a social transformation. The system feeds on the anti capitalistic and democratic issues too, to consolidate its hierarchic and vertical order based on the celebration of the idea of value as an individual profit. But at the same time, the diffusion of new models and icons (which are the primary matter for creating economic values) allows the communication of democratic ideas that freely circulate among media, galleries, museums and institutions.

Joas Staal’s “New World Summit” represents an alternative parliamentary forum
for terroristic organizations photo: ©Massimo Marchetti

Who is determined to support only one point, forgetting about the other one, doesn’t understand that this dichotomy is producing a new approach to reality. It is not only about art, but also about culture in general. We have to hold the paradox mentally, to accept the contradictions, because only by behaving like that, some undefined and unexpected ideas, communications and visions, will come out. They are information, sensations, perceptions that have not been preventively studied, but they are originated from the contradictions provoked by the terms of the paradox. The funny thing about that is that these anomalies are not objective facts, they do not depend completely on a curatorial approach or on a theoretic affirmation, but they depend also on the relationship between the observed (the object of our consideration) and the observer (ourselves). Inside an art space, (or a cultural space in general) each one of us can have a deep encounter with an object, a situation or an image that becomes significant to him, only because it is happening exactly in that moment, and it creates a short circuit between our inner state and something which belongs to the exterior world. Of course, the artists and the curator have a great responsibility in keeping their proposal opened, (what Umberto Eco calls “Opera Aperta” – open work) to the intellectual or/and physical intervention of the observer.

The responsibility of the “observer” of finding the sense of the encounter with an art work of an artist, an activist or a group of common people, helps the creation of a free space where art invention, inspiration and vision can arise. As it often happens to me when, you go and visit exhibitions, included the Berlin Biennal, you get personal and free gain, discovering and elaborating some unknown and unexpected anomalies, due to the contradiction that arises by facing the two extreme poles of a paradigmatic paradox.

Joanna Rajkowska – “Born in Berlin” (2012),
film still ©Joanna Rajkowska and Andrew Dixon

Escaping the order of a determined preposition that imposes a model, a role, a political behavior and expressing ourselves from a political social and intellectual point of view, means taking into account the limits of the existential paradox, and through it, discovering our inwardness and putting it in relation with the state of things.

ARTUR ŻMIJEWSKI, The Curator of the 7th Berlin Biennale Born in Warsaw in 1966, Artur Żmijewski mainly works with photography and film. In 2005 he represented Poland at the 51st Venice Biennale. In his manifesto The Applied Social Arts he developed his distinct positition on social activism, which also forms the point of departure for the 7th Berlin Biennale.

Joanna Warsza, Associate curator born in 1976, is a curator on the cusp of the performing and visual arts. She graduated from the Warsaw Theater Academy and completed a postgraduate course at the University of Paris 8 dance department. She is a founder of the independent platform Laura Palmer Foundation ( Joanna Warsza has worked mostly in the public realm, curating projects that examine social and political agendas, such as the invisibility of the Vietnamese community in Warsaw, the phenomenon of Israeli Youth Delegations to Poland, or the legacy of post-Soviet architecture in the Caucasus.

Voina, Art Collective, Associate curators from Russia, was founded in 2005 by Oleg Vorotnikov and Natalya Sokol. Voina engages in street action art that is directed against the Russian authorities. Their actions are regularly joined by a large group of anonymous activists. Numerous lawsuits have been filed against the group and its activists. Most recently Natalya Sokol and her son Kasper have been arrested for several hours in mid-October 2011. Oleg Vorotnikov, Natalya Sokol, Leonid Nikolajew and Kasper decline the use of money and live in St. Petersburg without a permanent home. Their creed is, as Natalya Sokol declares: “The artist who denies political awareness is just a designer.”

Berlin Biennale ( Funded by the German Federal Cultural Foundation, KW held the first Berlin Biennale in 1998 to help the city of Berlin become recognized as a contemporary art capital. Klaus Biesenbach took the artistic helm of the first Berlin Biennale in cooperation with Nancy Spector and Hans Ulrich Obrist. For the second Berlin Biennale in 2001, the baton was passed to Saskia Bos, who is in turn followed by Ute Meta Bauer for the 2004 exhibition. The 4th Berlin Biennale in 2006 was curated by Maurizio Cattelan, Massimiliano Gioni and Ali Subotnick. Adam Szymczyk was chosen for the 5th Berlin Biennale in 2008 who then appointed Elena Filipovic as co-curator. The 6th Berlin Biennale in 2010 was curated by Kathrin Rhomberg. The Biennale is held at various locations in the city, which in the past have included the Neue Nationalgalerie. Artists have included: 3 de luxe, Adolph Menzel, Adrian Lohmüller, Aernout Mik, Ahmet Öğüt, Aida Flüchtlingslager, Aleana Egan, Alexa Hennig von Lange, Alexander Baumgardt / Jan Rikens Hillmann, Alicia Framis, Anatolij Shuravlev, Andrea Zittel, Andreas Kaernbach, Andreas Slominski, Andrée Korpys & Markus Löffler, Andrey Kuzkin, Ania Molska, Anna Baranowski / Luise Schröder, Anna Witt, Ann-Sofi Sidén, Antanas Mockus, Apolonija Sustersic, Aris Fioretos, Armin Linke, Artur Żmijewski, Arturas Raila, Avi Mograbi, Ayse Erkmen, Babette Mangolte, Beatrice Wrobel, Bernard Bazile, Bernd Langer, Bless, Brimboria Institut, Burak Arikan, BUREAU Mario Lombardo, Cameron Jamie, Caner Aslan, Carlos Amorales, Carsten Höller, Cezary Bodzianowski, Charlotte Bank, Christian Jankowski, Christine Hill, Christine und Irene Hohenbüchler, Christoph Keller, Christoph Schlingensief, Claude Lévêque, Cyprien Gaillard, Dan Peterman, Danai Anesiadou, Danh Vo, Daniel Guzmán, Daniel Knorr, Daniel Pflumm, Daniel Roth, Darren Almond, David Claerbout, David Maljković, David Reeb, David Rych, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Douglas Gordon, Eike Becker, Elisabetta Benassi, Ettore Sottsass, F.R.E.d. RUBIN, Fabrice Hybert, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Femen, Ferhat Özgür, Filmpiraten, Fiona Banner, Fiona Tan, Franz Ackermann, Fred Kelemen, Fred Tomaselli, Friedl vom Gröller (Kubelka), Gabriel Kuri, Gabriel Orozco, Gedi Sibony, George Kuchar, Georges Tony Stoll, Giu Shi-hua, Giulia Piscitelli, Gob Squad, Goshka Macuga, Grüntuch / Ernst, Hajnal Németh, Hans Schabus, Haris Epaminonda, Heike Baranofsky, Henrik Håkansson, Henrik Olesen, Hermann Joachim Pagels, Honey Suckle Company, Inka Essenhigh, Institute for Human Activities, Ion Grigorescu, Jacob Mishori, Jan Liesegang, Janette Laverrière, Jiri Ceiver, Joanna Rajkowska, Joanne Tatham & Tom O’Sullivan, João Penalva, Johannes Kahrs, John Bock, John de Maya, John Smith, Jonas Staal, Jonathan Meese, Jonathan Monk, Jörg Stollmann, Jos De Gruyter & Harald Thys, Joseph Beuys Theater & Teatr.Doc, Joseph Grigely & Amy Vogel, Jürgen Frisch, Karina Dzieweczyńska, Kartenrecht, Katarzyna Józefowicz, Keith Tyson, Kendell Geers, Khaled Jarrar, Kilian Rüthemann, Kohei Yoshiyuki, Krétakör, Kristina Solomoukha, Krytyka Polityczna, Kutlug Ataman, Larry Sultan & Mike Mandel, Lars Laumann, Liam Gillick, Lili Reynaud-Dewar, Little Warsaw, Lou Cantor, LSD, Luciana Lamothe, Ludwig Peter Kowalski, Łukasz Konopa, Łukasz Surowiec, Maciej Mielecki, Manfred Pernice, Manon de Boer, Manuel Ocampo, Marc Camille Chaimowicz, Marcus Geiger, Margaret Salmon, Marie Voignier, Marijke van Warmerdam, Marina Naprushkina, Marion von Osten, Mark Boulos, Markus Muntean / Adi Rosenblum, Marlene Haring, Martin Zet, Masist Gül, Mathieu Mercier, Melvin Moti, Michael Elmgreen / Ingar Dragset, Michael Schmidt, Michael Stevenson, Michał Górczyński, Michel Auder, Minerva Cuevas, Mirosław Patecki, Mobinil, Mohamed Bourouissa, Mona Vătămanu / Florin Tudor, Monica Bonvicini, Mosireen, MVRDV, Nada Prlja, Nairy Baghramian, Nashashibi / Skaer, Navin Rawanchaikul, Nilbar Güreş, Nir Evron, Octavian Trauttmansdorff, Olaf Nicolai, Olafur Eliasson, Oleksiy Radynski, Olga Chernysheva, Our House, Pamela Rosenkranz, Paola Pivi, Parastou Forouhar, Pascale Marthine Tayou, Patricia Esquivias, Patricia Piccinini, Paul Sietsema, Paulina Olowska, Paweł Althamer, Pedro Barateiro, Petrit Halilaj, Phil Collins, Philipp Oswalt, Piotr Uklański, Pipilotti Rist, Pit Schultz, Pixadores, Pleurad Xhafa / Sokol Peçi, Public Movement, Pushwagner, Renée Green, Renzo Martens, Rineke Dijkstra, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Roman Ondák, Ron Tran, Rosângela Rennó, Ruti Sela & Maayan Amir, Sarah Sze, Sean Snyder, Sebastian Stumpf, Shannon Ebner, Simryn Gill & Liisa Roberts, Stan Douglas, Stefan Rusu, Stefan Thater, Steven Pippin, Stiftung Flucht, Vertreibung, Versöhnung, SubREAL, Sung Hwan Kim, Superflex, Surasi Kusolwong, Susan Hiller, Susanne Kriemann, Susanne M. Winterling, Sven-Åke Johansson, Swetlana Heger & Plamen Dejanov, Teresa Margolles, Thatchers, Thea Djordjadze, Thomas Demand, Thomas Hirschhorn, Thomas Judin, Thomas Locher, Thomas Zipp, Till Müller-Klug, Tim Staffel, Tobias Rehberger, Tomáš Rafa, Tris Vonna-Michell, Tsuyoshi Ozawa, Ugo Rondinone, Ulrike Mohr, Vibeke Tandberg, Vincent Vulsma, Vogt + Weizenegger, Walter Musacchi, Wolfgang Tillmans, Xavier Le Roy, Xu Tan, Yael Bartana, Zafeiris Haitidis, Zhao Liang, Zofia Stryjeńska

Funded by the German Federal Cultural Foundation, KW held the first Berlin Biennale in 1998 to help the city of Berlin become recognized as a contemporary art capital[1]. Klaus Biesenbach took the artistic helm of the first Berlin Biennale in cooperation with Nancy Spector and Hans Ulrich Obrist. For the second Berlin Biennale in 2001, the baton was passed to Saskia Bos, who is in turn followed by Ute Meta Bauer for the 2004 exhibition. The 4th Berlin Biennale in 2006 was curated by Maurizio Cattelan, Massimiliano Gioni and Ali Subotnick. Adam Szymczyk was chosen for the 5th Berlin Biennale in 2008 who then appointed Elena Filipovic as co-curator. The 6th Berlin Biennale in 2010 was curated by Kathrin Rhomberg.[9]. The Biennale is held at various locations in the city, which in the past have included the Neue Nationalgalerie.


#permalink posted by Erika Knerr: 7/12/12 10:08:43 AM

Lu Cafausu
Emilio Fantin, Luigi Negro,
Giancarlo Norese and Cesare Pietroiusti

A False Luke (Lu Cafausu) A collaborative project by four Italian artistits:
Emilio Fantin, Luigi Negro, Giancarlo Norese and Cesare Pietroiusti

by artist/correspondent Emilio Fantin

Four Italian artists often meet for collaborative projects. Each artist has his own artistic path, but sometimes they play together, like the musicians of a band do, if you want to use a musical metaphor. Most of the time they make projects in public spaces by involving a certain number of people. Projects are made both in old villages and in towns, both in Italy and abroad. They have strengthened our collaboration around Lu Cafausu, a gazebo made of stone and cement, that was a part of a big property built at the beginning of the 20th century. Later the property was sold and the villa was separated from the gazebo. At the present time new houses surround Lu Cafausu.

Emilio Fantin

Lu Cafausu, an old coffee house located in a small town in the southern Italy, has become the inspiration for stories, exhibitions, performances and actions in Lecce, Rotterdam and New York. We identified Lu Cafausu as a metaphorical place, so meaningful to become a symbol of our time.

Lu Cafausu is a mysterious small building, an architectural remnant that the artists have elected as a source of metaphors and narratives. It is “an imaginary place that really exists” around which the presence of death is floating. It is an architectural and existential anomaly, a place full of potentialities that gives to the artists the inspiration to invent metaphors and narratives, because it cannot be defined without having nonsense as a result. It is in fact quite evident the bearer of a story and meanings of it, but no one knows exactly what they are. A place where death hovers around and is easily discernible: any day, the small building can in fact be demolished to accommodate more parking space for cars, or can also fall apart as a consequence of its precariousness. It could also be turned and frozen into a monument. Because of the presence of death, Lu Cafausu is an ideal place for a new celebration, “La Festa dei Vivi”, where, in order to give sense to life, one reflects his own death, first and foremost.

Two years ago, on November 2, 2010, ANDANDAND[1], a collaborative project, part of Documenta 13, by Rene Gabri and Ayreen Anastas, invited Emilio Fantin, Luigi Negro, Giancarlo Norese, Cesare Pietroiusti and Luigi Presicce to turn the November the 2nd traditional celebration of the Dead into a new holiday: “La Festa dei Vivi (che riflettono sulla morte)”, “The Celebration of the Living Ones (who reflect upon death)”. For this celebration, the artists invited everyone to take part in a pilgrimage, probably the shortest and slowest in the world, having  a departing point as its destination, Lu Cafausu in San Cesario di Lecce. The celebration and the pilgrimage wanted to represent a reflection upon death as transformation, threshold, mystery, but also as a necessary perspective of meaning. The pilgrimage was also an occasion for a visit to the “Sanctuary of Patience” and homage to the figure of Ezechiele Leandro, a local artist who worked around the theme of death.

The four artists, helped by some local people, pushed a boat through the village.
This was done not only for slowing down the pace, but also because
the boat is a symbol of life (all these people live near the sea)
and death (fishermen who never come back.)

Sometimes they stopped and read texts about death and dead people.
Some Eraclito’s aphorisms, some excerpts from The Socrate’s apology
and other excerpts from texts by Jankelevitch and Feuerbach.

The pilgrimage was also an occasion for a visit to the “Sanctuary of Patience”
and homage to its author, Ezechiele Leandro.

The Sanctuary of Patience by Ezechiele Leandro (1905-1981) is a unique
and extraordinary example of a mystical garden, a forest of sculptures,
a temple or a cemetery, a site that can’t be described,
created by an artistic expression of a self-taught man,
an artist whose position was beyond
the division of low and high culture.

Since 2010 the artists have continued to propose the pilgrimage in occasion of November the 2nd. Every year they propose a different place and way for the celebration of November the 2nd.            .

The four artists were invited to participate in an artist residency through the ASU Art Museum[2] International Visiting Artist Residency Program from the fall of 2012 through the fall of 2013.

For 2013 they will propose The Celebration of the Living (who reflect upon death)” 4th edition. Last February, Emilio Fantin and Giancarlo Norese spent 10 days studying the environment and the social context of Phoenix. On November 2, 2013, the artists will invite everyone to participate in “The Celebration of the living  (who reflect upon death), that will take place in Phoenix. Information and announcements will be published on the website early January 2013. (

The 3rd edition will take place on the web. Everyone all over the world will simultaneously be invited to take part in the action “Islands”, on occasion of this new edition of “The Celebration of the living people.”  At the beginning of November in many parts of the world people celebrate the cult of the dead people. This year we are going to evocate the relationship between the living and the dead through a powerful symbol of death: the Island.

Participants are asked to connect with someone who has died, (praying, talking, evocating parents, friends or other people they love). Later they will email us, a thought, a short phrase about this particular experience and a scan of a drawing, photograph, paintings or small sculpture of an island: a particular idea of island, which reflects and expresses their personal relationship with someone who has died.

After printing all the scans, they will be installed outdoors in Rome, on occasion of a meeting you are all invited to take part in. Passersby will be invited to freely take away the pictures.

Information about the collective performance “Island,” will be available soon in

1.  ANDANDAND is an artist run initiative, which used the time between 2010 and dOCUMENTA (13) in 2012, to consider with individuals and groups across the world the role that art and culture can play today and the constituent publics or communities which  could be addressed.

2.  ASU Art Museum,Tempe, AZ


#permalink posted by Erika Knerr: 7/05/12 08:13:27 AM


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