Tag Archives: biennale

Bolshe Sveta / More Light : 5th Moscow Biennale

10 Jul

The Fifth Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art will be held from 19 September–20 October 2013 at Manege in Moscow. The artistic director Catherine de Zegher shares her plans for the edition. 

Alia Syed (1)

Alia Syed, Panopticon Letters: Missive I (still), 2010‐2013. Single-channel HD digital video, sound, 22:46 min. Courtesy the artist and Talwar, New York


Lucy Rees: What do you have planned for this year’s Moscow Biennale? Can you tell us about your curatorial framework?

CdZ: I believe we have to get away from the conventional thematic approach of biennials and let the currency of ideas materialize by working together with artists — how they think and act in an increasingly interdependent world. I want to be innovative! The title is “Bolshe Sveta / More Light” and will promote enlightened conversation and action at the crossroads where different concepts of space and time — and consequent structures of thought and sensibility — are elaborated. With world time increasingly ticking in a homogeneous manner to the rhythm of neoliberal capitalism, space is obliterated by time. The artists point out an urgent need to enact another kind of movement in the world. By entering slow time and slow attention, there is an increased receptiveness to sensation and movement — an unfolding that profoundly belongs to art and aesthetics. Together with audiences, these artists engage in continuities between past, present and future, through a focus on daily routines and habits, in a time that is of the present, sometimes intimate and domestic, and that is related to our environment. When time is activated in this way, what emerges is a space-time as “here and now” that addresses socio-political issues in the present and introduces new necessary thought patterns through manifold art practices.

Aslan Gaisumov_2

Aslan Gaisumov, Untitled, 2013 From the series ‘Untitled (War)’. Mixed media, variable dimensions. Courtesy the artist.

LR: Your strong background in drawing (you’ve held positions as guest curator in the Department of Drawings at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and as chief curator of The Drawing Center in New York) has been talked about in relation to this biennial, as well as its potential resonance within Moscow, where recent art history is weighted towards graphics and illustration. Can you speak to that?

CdZ: I don’t think of exhibitions in separate mediums, but as a whole. This does not diminish my interest in drawing, which will definitely be present.

Gorod Ustinov_1

Micro-art-group «Gorod “City” Ustinov» Genesis Era (detail), 2013. Mixed media, variable dimensions. Courtesy the artists.

Gorod Ustinov_2

Micro-art-group «Gorod “City” Ustinov» Islands (detail), 2012. Mixed media, variable dimensions. Courtesy the artists


LR: Tell me about the contemporary art scene in Moscow. Are you intending to include many Russian artists?

Cdz: As I have always done, I will work with artists from around the globe, with a focus on artists from and around Russia — both older and younger generations. I find the art scene in Russia very interesting and vibrant. There is a wonderful younger generation who are investigating art and society in very thoughtful and innovative ways. I always work in an empathic way within the context of a specific place and time.

Gosia Wlodarczak

Gosia Wlodarczak, Window Shopping Frost Drawing, 2012. 18-day performance, Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, Australia. Courtesy the artist and Fehily Contemporary, Melbourne



Jumaadi, A Man Carrying a House (Fragment from the shadow play ‘The Woman Who Married the Mountain’), 2012-13. Paper cut-out, variable dimensions. Courtesy the artist.

Maya Onoda

Maya Onoda, Kaleidoscope (detail), 2012. Magnan Metz Gallery, New York. Courtesy the artist and Magnan Metz, New York.

Rena Effendi

Rena Effendi, Brothers playing in the unlit hallway of an unfinished emergency hospital building – a refugee settlement since 1993. Baku, Azerbaijan, 2010. Courtesy the artist and Grinberg Agency, Moscow.


This interview appeared in Flash Art International Summer Edition (July, August, September 2013).


Mom, Am I Barbarian? 13th Istanbul Biennial

25 May



Mom, Am I Barbarian?

The curator of 13th Istanbul Biennial, Fulya Erdemci, talked to Lucy Rees about her plans for this year’s edition, which runs from September 13 to November 10, 2013.

Lucy Rees: Your conceptual framework for the 13th Istanbul Biennial is the notion of the public domain as a political forum. Tell us about the title, “Mom, Am I Barbarian?”

Fulya Erdemci: The title is closely related to the imminent political conflicts and the expression of discontent with the existing regimes and ideologies. These were staged on the streets (the so-called Arab Spring, protests in Greece, Spain, USA, Turkey and elsewhere). This translates into a desire to start anew, to go beyond the already existing formulas, perhaps even towards the unknown. It is about inventing unorthodox alchemical languages to define what we can yet barely discern on the horizon. Hence, I overturn and reintroduce “barbarity” as a positive concept to open up the imagination to the construction of new subjectivities. Taking urban public spaces as the spatial component of the democratic apparatus, we aim to discuss the relation of subjectivity to freedom and place. We know that the word “barbarian” carries strong connotations of exclusion and reinforces progressive understanding of civilizations, and thus institutes binary oppositions. With a poetic invention, poet Lale Müldür’s strips off the conventional undertones and converts the concept into a personal, singular question. So, we can also read this question as: “Do I have a language? Am I being heard? Do I have a say?”

LR: Biennale titles are increasingly general and all encompassing. Are you actively going against this?

FE: Yes, I am. It is not without reasons that titles are becoming increasingly general and all encompassing. As writer Eduardo Galeano mentions, the world is pregnant with another world, and we are all aware of these historically vital times we are living through. So, most of the exhibitions claim to be period exhibitions, commenting on this significant passage of time. My aim was to anchor the exhibition in time and place (Istanbul) through the reinvention of the concept of “barbarism” to name and define another world to come. The conceptual framework of the biennial rests on a theoretical axis that articulates the changing notions of “the public,” and by extension the public domain as a political public forum. The urban public spaces of Istanbul, which have been subject to unleashed urban transformation, serve as the site of praxis. I embarked on the process with a poetic gesture in order to open up a third space in between the theoretical and practical axes: Lale Müldür’s title of her book Mom, Am I Barbarian? not only unfolds but also interconnects the major conceptual and practical issues I want to explore.

Fulya Erdemci

Fulya Erdemci.

This article was published in Flash Art International May/June 2013 edition.

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