Ana Sayfa  »SANAT


Dünyaca ünlü sanatçılar Bodrum’da buluşacak


Bu yıl düzenlenecek olan Bodrum Bienali, dünyanın dört bir yanında gelen sanatçı ve sanatseverleri ağırlayacak. Bodrum’un kültür ve sanatına uluslararası katkı sağlaması beklenen bienal kapsamında İlhan Koman, Orhan Tekin, Meiko Kikuta, David Goldenberg, Said Adalı, Nurdan Erçin başta olmak üzere bir çok değerli sanatçının eserleri sanatseverlerle buluşacak. Ayrıca şair Cezmi Ersöz ve Özkan Mert de şiirleri ile Bodrum’u renklendirecek.

Ülkemizin tatil ve turistik beldesi Bodrum’u,Akdeniz’in çağdaş kültür beldesi de yapabilmek için 2 yıl önce 2013’de başlatılan Uluslararası Bodrum Bienali, dünyanın sayılı bienallerinden biri olma düşüyle ikincisini 12 Eylül- 12 Kasım 2015 tarihlerinde izleyicilere sunacak.

Cumhuriyetimizin genç kuşaklara emanet ettiği, sanat mirasına saygı olarak 14 yıldır yapılan ”Ekim Geçidi” sergilerinin sonucunda doğan ilk Bodrum Bienali’ne yerli ve yabancı toplam 50 sanatçı katılmıştır. 2. Bodrum Bienaline Bodrum Kalesi, Şevket Sabancı Kültür Merkezi, Osmanlı Tershanesi ve Myndos Kapısında olmak üzere 100 sanatçı yapıtlarını görüye sunacaktır.

Yapıtlarını sergileyecek sanatçılardan bazıları:

Dünyaca ünlü İlhan Koman, Zühtü Müridoğlu,Mustafa Aslıer,Judy Rifka, Said Adalı, Nilgün Bilge, Orhan Tekin,Larry Gomez, Nurdan Erçin, Özlem Kalmaz, Fazilet Kendirci, No min Bold, David Goldenberg…

Bienal Neyzen Tevfik kollokyumu Hıfzı Topuz ,yazar ve akademisyenlerin katılımı ile, modern dans , konuşmalar ve şiir dinletileri ile bu etkinliği zenginleştirilecektir.

Bienalin açılımı : Bienal Italyanca “her bir diğer yıl ” anlamina gelen ve iki yılda bir düzenlenen etkinliklere verilen addır. Çoğunlukla kültürel ve sanatsal faliyetler için kullanılan bir terimdir.  En eski bienal 1895’ten beri duzenlenen Venedik Bienali’dir. Çağdaş son atakları, dünyadaki yaratıcıları halkla ve sanatseverlerle bütünleştirmektir. Bodrum Bienalinin  özelliği :özgür, özgün, bağımsız  oluşu  ve Akdeniz de Venedikten sonra ikinci bir sanat ve kültür platformu oluşturması ve ilerde Türkiye’ye uluslararasi sanat ve kültür arenasında saygınlık kazandirabilmektir.

Bodrum Bienalinin kurucu yetkilisi Gülsün Erbil ‘ dir.

Bienal, toplam 4 mekanda yapılıyor: Bodrum Kalesi, Şevket Sabancı Kültür Merkezi,  Myndos Kapısı ve  Osmanlı Tersanesi’nde oluyor.

Bodrum Belediyesi ve Casa Dell Arte bu etkinliğe sponsor oldular. Ancak etkinlik diğer sponsorlarını da beklediğini duyurdu.



Art Forum 08.17.14

Upwardly Mobile


Left: Mobile Biennale curator Alexandru Niculescu. Right: Mobile Biennale curator Adrian Bojenoiu. (All photos: Kate Sutton)


“ALL OF THESE BIENNALES boast of being a forum for the exchange of ideas,” curator Adrian Bojenoiu, cofounder of the Mobile Biennale, reasoned over a Bellini and a tomato-mozzarella skewer on the steps of the Museum of Fine Arts in Craiova, Romania. “We thought to ourselves, if that’s the case, why not just put the emphasis on the ideas? Why even bother with the exhibition part?”

We had gathered to toast the launch of the Mobile Biennale, whose “emphasis on ideas” translated to packing a bus with around thirty potential idea-havers, -sharers, and -negaters for a seven-day tour across what some may see as the armpit—albeit, a well-formed, beautifully-groomed, entirely desirable armpit—of Romania. The biennial’s founders, Bojenoiu and artist Alexandru Niculescu, had earned street-cred as the minds behind Club Electroputere, an artist-run space based in the old cultural center of a factory that once produced locomotive engines. While many artists may have decamped to Bucharest or Cluj, Bojenoiu and Niculescu chose to double down in Craiova, a town whose substantial artistic legacy (it is home to some of the only early Constantin Brâncuşi works to remain in the country) is being mined for a revival of sorts, thanks to the race for the 2021 European Cultural Capital. According to Vlad Drăgulescu, director of Craiova’s campaign, “Everyone writes off Craiova as the underdog in the competition”—which includes frontrunner Cluj, Home of Painters—“but if you look at the criteria, category by category, Craiova comes out on top. Especially when you add the surrounding area of Oltenia!”

Left: Vlad Drăgulescu, president of the Association for Craiova Cultural Capital of Europe 2021. Right: Alexandru Niculescuand Cabaret Voltaire’s Adrian Notz pause along the Transalpina, outside Rânca.


The Mobile Biennale would take a closer look (and a gazillion Instagrams) of what Drăgulescu was talking about during its weeklong exploration of Oltenia. Club Electroputere had tried a beta version of the trip two years ago that attempted to cover all of Romania. “That was way too intense,” Niculescu confessed. “Romania is a big country.” Oltenia was a much more accommodating size, with a stunning mix of topographies—from the lush, boat-lined bays of the Danube, to the watermelon-bearing flatlands, to the pristine Transalpina, running along the ridges of the Carpathian mountains—all within a two- or three-hour drive.

The biennial’s championing of “Mobility” may have de-emphasized place conceptually, but that didn’t mean the participants—all either invited or selected through an open call—didn’t have every opportunity to play the tourist. The itinerary included a photo op at the Iron Gate II (which sounds straight out of Westeros, but is in fact a hydroelectric dam); a pilgrimage to Brâncuşi’s Endless Column at Târgu Jiu; and a brief respite at a chalet in Turcinești, where Niculescu and Dan Vezentan’s Cannibal Disco party featured a human-shaped mirror-ball roasting on a spit over red neon “flames.” Along the way, there were monasteries, mammoth caves, and hot springs galore, not to mention—crucially—outposts to replenish supplies of alcohol and cigarettes. And yes, there were the nightly presentations, more or less formal, though the real conversations raged over bottles of red wine and roadside tuică. Topics skittered from what it might mean for an artist to take responsibility for his or her work to whether an artist could ever effectively comment on another culture to who was left behind on a mountaintop (a conversation I missed, being one of the ones left behind on a mountaintop).

The first major stop was Port Cultural Cetate, a former agricultural port on the Danube, recently transformed into a lovely holiday haven and artist residency by its new owner, celebrity dissident, poet, writer, and sometime-vintner Mircea Dinescu. “The whole country has seen this house,” curator Raluca Velisar explained. “Dinescu hosts a talk show where he invites guests here and cooks a meal for them.” “Like Martha Stewart?” ventured Vilnius-based curator Juste Jonutyte. Velisar responded with a wry smile: “Not exactly.”

Left: MNAC (National Museum of Contemporary Art) curator Raluca Velisar at Cetate Arts Danube. Right: Artist Anca Bodea and Joana Grevers at the Cetate Arts Danube Atelier.


That evening would culminate in a midnight buffet served dockside to the sounds of Impex, a trio fronted by Dinescu’s violin-wielding son, Andrei Dinescu, who himself is best known as a member of Steaua de Mare (“Starfish”), popular for their electronica spin on Romanian folk music. First, however, we paid call to Cetate Arts Danube, the neighboring artist residency program launched by Joana Grevers, collector, patron, and founder of Bucharest’s 418 Gallery. The sprawling estate had belonged to her family before Communism. By the time Grevers was able to buy it back, many of the buildings had fallen into disrepair, including the magnificent stables, whose collapsed roof had allowed plants to colonize the building. Still, Grevers had managed to retool a hulking barn as the “Cetate Atelier la Dunăre,” a studio space for residents, and the property’s small chapel had been completely redesigned by architect Alexandra Afrăsinei. “I think it’s always best to start with a chapel,” Grevers mused, as we sipped a local rosé wine beside the lavender fields. (She could have said anything at that moment, and I would have agreed.)

The following evening we settled into a cabana outside Eșelnița, where, with a little ingenuity and a lot of extension cords, we were able to set up a riverside screening of The Ister, a 2004 film by David Barisonand Daniel Ross that travels up the Danube while revisiting Martin Heidegger’s interpretation of Hölderlin’s hymn to the river. As Bernard Stiegler voiced his thoughts on Prometheus on screen, across the river, Zeus himself decided to weigh in, unleashing one of the most stunning thunderstorms any of us had ever witnessed. The lightning began over the Serbian highlands, but it soon swept to the Romanian side of the river, eventually drenching the hotel with a downpour as mighty as the light show.

In the morning we would learn that the storm had flooded a large part of the region, leaving some of our route blocked. No matter. While participants were dutifully awed by official stops like the Tismana Monastery or the Rovinari open pit mines, we were just as content with spontaneous stops for cigarettes and alcohol. Smoke breaks were held in the strangest of places—on a speedboat in the Danube, in a cave outside the spa town of Herculane. “You know what they say,” chided architect Thomas Tsang. “When in Romania…”

Left: Steaua de Mare (“Starfish”) practices at Port Cultural Cetate. Right: Cannibal Disco party in Turcineşti.


Rumored to have been founded in 102 AD by Emperor Traian—responsible for the “Roman” in Romania—over the centuries, Herculane has hosted the elites of myriad empires, from Marcus Aurelius to Franz Joseph I and his wife Elizabeth (immortalized on film as Princess Sisi). During the land grabs of privatization, many of the town’s more jaw-dropping Austrian Baroque mansions were snapped up on the cheap, and now belong to people who can’t afford to maintain them, but refuse to let them go. “I mean, you could sink a million dollars into fixing up one of these buildings, but then you would never see that money again, so long as the rest of the infrastructure isn’t here,” illustrator Alex Neagu lamented. Perhaps the most impressive building of all, the Imperial Austrian Baths, sits boarded up, its badly-patched windows offering glimpses of the grandeur (marble tiles, gilded chandeliers, indoor fountains, etc) within, Upon discovering a door with its bottom panel kicked in, we couldn’t resist a little bathhouse B&E. Inside, the long corridors were lined with stall after stall of private baths where emperors could come to soak their troubles away. “Talk about a spot for a biennial,” Bojenoiu cooed, with an appreciative whistle.

On the last day, we fudged the rules slightly, slipping out of Oltenia and into the neighboring region of Transylvania to visit the home of artists Lia and Dan Perjovschi in Sibiu. Lia greeted us with platters of local delicacies and her home-brewed wonder tea, before indulging us with a tour of her archives, which she has organized by shelves: “The Earth, The Body, Science, Culture, The Universe…” The stacks of books were propped up by jars full of such museum store finds as a magnetic Obama finger puppet and a breath spray promising to help users “Understand Modern Art.” (“I don’t really care for that kind of irony,” she admitted, “but I thought it was important to acknowledge that it’s out there.”) The artist maintained that she is more strategic in her acquisitions than her “collector” husband. “Dan just wants to buy any and everything. I have to be more selective. I never buy anything above the budget of fifty euros,” Lia glanced affectionately at her spouse. “Dan’s more successful; he doesn’t have to think about budgets.”

Left: Artist Mihai Barabancea at a stop along the Transalpina. Right: Artist Jonas Lozoraitis at a stop along the Transalpina.


Lia envisions her archive functioning as a Knowledge Museum. “Knowledge is expensive, but knowledge is also survival,”she continued. “Someone asked me if I thought we had landed on the moon. Did we actually land? I believe we did. But if we didn’t…? What does it matter, whether or not we actually went there?”

One place the Perjovschis won’t be going is the MNAC, Bucharest’s Museum of Contemporary Art, which in 2004 relocated to the gargantuan Palace of the Parliament, the world’s second-largest administrative building (after the Pentagon), as well as its heaviest. “It’s like we’re in a village, where there’s one big house, and you make your parties, your funerals, and your politics all under the same roof,” Lia snapped. “Why the provincialism? We can afford to build these things their own buildings!”

Half the group had to catch the train to Bucharest, but Dan led the stragglers on a walking tour of shamelessly charming Sibiu, which already had its turn as Cultural Capital in 2007. Over a stop for—what else?—cigarettes and alcohol, talk turned to the next Mobile Biennale, which is considering a tour of Hong Kong. Even more pressingly, the MNAC had offered the Biennale an exhibition of its own this coming November. What would a biennial dedicated to ideas have to show for itself? “We’ll have to think about it,” Niculescu shrugged. And just like that, we were planning the afterparty.


— Kate Sutton


Left: Artists Dan and Lia Perjovschi pose in front of Lia’s Contemporary Art Archive in their home in Sibiu. Right: Artist and architect Thomas Tsang at the open pit mine in Rovinari.


Left: Artist Lucian Indrei with dealer Mihai Pop. Right: Dealer Gabriel Ghizdavu.


Left: Writer Bogdan Ghiu. Right: Designer Timo Grimberg.



Галичка колонија 2014 во чекор со новите текови во уметноста

Девет афирмирани уметници од повеќе европски земји се учесници на годинашната 26-та по ред сесија на традиционалната Интернационална ликовна колонија Галичник, која се одржува од 15 до 22 август. И овој пат во фокусот се исклучиво „новите медиуми“ – фотографијата, дигиталната графика, фото инсталациите, видео артот и видео инсталациите.

Дејвид Голденберг од Велика Британија (еден од минатогодишните претставници на Кралството на Венециското биенале), Катарина Банушевац од Србија, Романката Јоана Пиару, Маурин Бахаус од Холандија, Шпанецот Ајсберг Фернандез, Беким Корча и Јетон Муја од Косово, Бригита Антони од Црна Гора и нашата Ана Лазаревска, се уметниците кои во текот на изминатава недела, од 15 до 22 август, творат и дебатираат на годинешната 26-та по ред сесија на Интернационалната ликовна колонија – Галичник.

Ова е една од поуспешните ликовни манифестации на Галичката колонија. Се надевам дека резултатот најдобро ќе може да се види откако делата ќе бидат финиширани, продуцирани и претставени пред македонската јавност.

Станува збор за значајни и афирмирани уметници не само во земјите од кои што доаѓаат и кои имаат исклучителни творечки остварувања во своите богати биографии. Тие и овој пат, согласно интенцијата на организаторот да биде во чекор со најновите текови во уметноста, беа селектирани заради нивниот посебен интерес за „новите медиуми“ и инспирирани од традицијата, посебностите на крајот и воопшто на Република Македонија работеа фотографии, дигитални графики, фото-инсталации, видео арт и видео инсталации.

Ана Франговска, уметничката раководителка на Колонијата, истакнува дека изработката на делата е во завршна фаза и дека се работи во регионот Река, Маврово, Галичник… Вели дека  патем направиле неколку посети на културните блага на Македонија како манастирот „Свети Јован Бигорски“ и дека им останува уште да го погледнат древниот Охрид со неговите единствени цркви и манастири.

„Можам да ви кажам дека по соочувањето со целокупниот нивни уметнички репертоар ова е една од поуспешните ликовни манифестации на Галичката колонија. Се надевам дека резултатот најдобро ќе може да се види откако делата ќе бидат финиширани, продуцирани и претставени пред македонската јавност, а тоа ќе се случи догодина на триеналната изложба на последните три сесии“, вели таа.

Франговска дополнува дека е убедена оти нивното гостопримство од една страна и убавините и културната традиција која што ја нуди Македонија, ќе придонесат кон надополнување на уметничкиот смер што овие творци си го тераат досега бидејќи сепак не станува збор за пејзажна колонија којашто се занимава со пренесување на визуелната убавина, туку сето она што тие го црпат од средината во која што се твори со сигурност ќе има рефлексии врз нивните понатамошни уметнички делувања.

„Како една од суштинските причини за постоењето на ваквите манифестации е секако и воспоставувањето на понатамошни линкови и поврзувања на уметниците. Сигурна сум дека по ова издание тие не само што ќе продолжат да се развиваат туку и ќе се мултиплицираат на различни нивоа“, вели Франговска.

Со слична размисла околу комуникацијата со останатите уметници е и Ана Лазаревска, која како единствен претставник од Македонија, на Колонијата продолжила да го развива својот проект инспириран од селата на Мијачкиот крај на кого работи цела една година.

„Се работи за фотографии во стари куќи. Тоа е мојата инспирација. Куќи коишто се напуштени или коишто нема кој да ги одржува. Овој проект трпеливо го развивам и крајниот продукт ќе ѝ биде предочен на публиката на претстојната изложба што наскоро ќе се одржи во Скопје“, вели Лазаревска.





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l’Artibune 10th 2012 In search of Post Autonomy, Palazzio Isimbardi, Milan, Italy U









About David Goldenberg ‘s participation at he 55. Venice Biennale on L’Arca, international Architecture and Design and Visual Communication Journal, written byMichele Bazan Giordano. This year Venice Biennale is an Against-Biennale. What’s more ‘against’ than this supreme Goldenberg’s thought esperiment?


Cronache dall’Asia 3 : minima&moralia
Il Palazzo Enciclopedico, titolo dato dal curatore Massimiliano Gioni alla 55a Biennale d’Arte di Venezia, mostra dettagli della storia dell’esistere umano: espone e celebra l’individuo espressivo, la manifestazione dell’essere oltre ogni spinta e necessità a esplorare, catalogare, esaurire. È la li… la mostra personale di David Goldenberg, The Scenarios of Post Autonomy alla galleria Glenda Cinquegrana: The Studio dal 18 settembre al 18 ottobre 2012 vista dalle telecamere del programma ARTV del canale CLASS CNBC.


ID=6445   Egede Bugün Gazetesi -20001 (1)


Cover   workshop and conference     1st page 2nd page last page   4th page 3rd page



ArtClue – Eastern European Art magazine 24.11.2013 Text by Paul O’Neal in Visual Artists Ireland

Self-Organisation as a Way of Being

A personal Example  When I returned to Dublin in the late 1990s from living and working outside of Ireland, I realised that there were limited opportunities for me to show my work, to curate exhibitions and to activate the network of people I had established whilst away. There was limited infrastructure available for operating on a continual basis as an artist working on a curatorial basis and making-exhibitions with other practitioners. I felt restricted in what I could do on a daily basis and in what I could offer as a host for potential moments of exchange with others. As a means of widening my existing network and creating a space for these moments to happen, I founded MultiplesX in 1997 with fellow artist Ronan McCrea. MultiplesX was initially meant to be an intermediary solution to having our own gallery space. After numerous formal and informal conversations seeking support by means of funds or exhibition space, eventually Temple Bar Gallery,with the support of its curator at the time Vaari Claffey, and the design firm Language became the central components in the organisational structure of our initiative. MultiplesX facilitated a space in which I could extend invitations to a large number of artists and curators over a relatively short time-span. MultiplesX eventually became a vehicle through which I could mobilise my thinking and speaking beyond the limitations of the subjective, and often isolationist, “I” towards a more empowered position of the “we”. As a non-for-profit organisation we commissioned, organised and curated exhibitions of Irish and international artist’s editions at regular intervals in the foyer at TBGS and the works were distributed widely through catalogues designed by Language. We also had regular touring exhibitions of the works in Ireland, the UK and Europe, which further extended our network of artists, curators and critics. As a self-organised initiative, it began as a way of dealing with a lack of exhibition space, limited opportunities and a restrictive critical space around what I was interested in doing as an artist whose practice was shifting towards the curatorial. It also helped me to self-generate a network of curators, artists and practitioners with whom I have remained in contact with and continue to collaborate with on a regular basis. Rather than waiting around for invitations from others to take part in projects, I was able to do the inviting myself in the knowledge that such relationships could facilitate further moments of exchange in the future. MultiplesX also helped me to learn a wide range of administrational and organisational skills such as writing funding applications, handling artworks, writing press releases, consigning works, insuring works, packing and transporting works, dealing with artists, gallerists, collectors, curators, and critics and generally introducing a greater level of professionalism into my overall artistic and curatorial practice. It was my earlier self-initiated projects in the early 1990s that also enabled me to consider MultiplesX as a possibility. Although many of MultiplesX objectives, such as establishing a market for emerging Irish art alongside an Irish market for established international artists who were not represented by Irish galleries was not to happen, and may have been badly timed, but many of the skills, experiences and the network I emerged with after MultiplesX I carried with me into my first institutional post as gallery curator in London Print Studio between 2001-03 and I have been able to continually call upon the artist, curator and critic contacts I established during this time and I continue to work with and share an expanding cultural network with many of the participants.  Like any self-initiated project either before or subsequently, all have continued to provide a space of learning and development, often in some unexpected ways, but it is it at the stage of self-organisation that such projects become more expansive when they are more than just self-enterprise by initiating and supporting the involvement of others in what one does. Self-initiated Projects: The First Stage of Self-Organisation  Self-initiated projects are the first stage in configuring a world through which we wish to be read. By making connections between what we do and what others do, we can begin to enable pluralist forms of exchange. Initiators start with and from a position of desire for a space of readership, as well as production, that is temporarily unavailable to them. There is recognition of an absence, which the initiator wishes to make visible.  By bringing this appearance into the present an organisation begins to be formed beyond the individual position. As Mika Hannula has argued: Self-organisation is a so-called third space. It is a peculiar concentration of time and energy in a particular place where the interests of the participants in that context are debated, constituted, defined, clarified and defended. It does not belong to either A or B, but is constructed spontaneously through the interaction between A and B. It is a meeting point at which both sides have found the capacity to listen to each other on the others terms. It is based on acknowledging interaction that seeks to negotiate a sustainable compromise for existing alongside one another, not as a unity, but in a plurality. Self-initiated projects are the life-blood of culture, i.e. culture as understood in both material production and as a symbolic system of that production. Self-organisation is about making things happen on one’s own terms alongside like-minded positions. An artist, curator or writer who initiates projects with others is self-directing notions of both “commonality” and “connectivity” in relation to how they wish to position what it is that they do and how they wish it to exist in the world. These two central terms begin to function as inherent qualities within one’s own work: common to the general idea of practice as a form of self-positioning alongside other like minded positions and connected to the belief in the potentiality of these other like-forms of practice as part of the same critical discourse. As Anthony Davies, Stephan Dillemuth and Jakob Jakobsen have claimed in their co-penned essay There is no Alternative: The Future is Self Organised , self-organisation is, amongst other things, “ a social process of communication and commonality based in exchange; sharing of similar problems, knowledge and available resources.” As a shared space for discussion, self-organisation enables a directed vocabulary to take place around what one does. Every exhibition becomes a contingent moment in an on-going evolution of one’s practice over a longer period, where such momentary events function as self-regulated research tools for establishing continuous links between one’s practice as a space of negotiation beyond the individual position, and hopefully adds to the flow of a more agile and self-empowering culture without the restraints of, or the necessity for, a more fixed institutional structure. From Conversation to the Formation of a Position The artist Douglas Gordon once said that “exhibitions are an excuse for a conversation”, but what Gordon’s casual remark implies is that any moment of public display can initiate a potential space of dialogue between interested parties that only the event can set in motion. What Gordon is highlighting is a necessity for dialogue to move things forward, without which artistic practice remains in a self-imposed vacuum. Self-organised projects are the difference between waiting for those moments of exchange to be initiated by outside forces instead of producing such moments one-self. Conversational modes of exchange are not without their own formal restraints or limitations. In fact, exhibition-moments such as the private view or the after-opening pub session can end up as the most formal of all discursive exchanges – with or without the alcoholic lubricant. Conversations are the first stage of exchange in a necessary move towards more formalised critique and modes of participation through which the potentiality for engagement with different publics, divergent readerships, and diverse audiences can be widened beyond the mere convivial space of chatting. The transformation of the space of discourse into forms of exhibition, public events, publications, public discussions, reading groups etc., also enables the configuration of a useful social network for the initiator as well as activating a potential space for that network to be called upon again in the future and for it to continue to grow over time. From Invitee to Initiator: The invitation to take part in providing this text began with an email followed by a conversational form of exchange. It was my ambition to maintain this mode of exchange for as long as was possible during the writing process and instead of just saying yes to the invitation and following instructions, I wanted to initiate an organisational process through which I could involve other voices instead of mediating solely on my own behalf. Having been given the opportunity by Visual Artists Ireland to write a text about organising one’s own projects, this potential “exhibition moment” became a further opportunity for me to activate an exchange between myself, and a number of other potential contributors. The primary space of discourse that was set in motion between Visual Artists Ireland as the inviter and me as the invitee became a secondary space of initiation, opened up by the invitee. In turn, I asked twenty practitioners whose work is often conditioned by self-organisational principles to respond to five rather oblique but loosely formulated questions: * Why should we organise or initiate our own projects? * What are the benefits of self-initiated projects? * Is there a difference between taking part in self-organised projects and those that have been initiated by others? * What is self-determinism? * What is alternative cultural practice? Their more than generous responses operated as the foundation for this text and wherever possible, their words are mediated here. Somewhat unsurprising, every respondent looked at self-initiated projects in a positive light, but perhaps a little less so was a certain sense of suspicion towards any fixed notion of what form these projects could take. In many ways what for some may be organised due to an urgent necessity, for others it may be in the guise of self-enterprise and an alternative conduit to the market, the establishment and so on. As Pavel Büchler put it: They can (but by no means necessarily do) manifest that things can be done differently in the face of concrete social, cultural or material situations. It goes without saying, then, that self-organisation is particularly meaningful where it is conceptually integral to the work, project or practice, rather than being merely a strategy for the dissemination of autonomous artworks or an exercise of entrepreneurial enterprise. There is Always an Alternative In 2005, Dave Beech and Mark Hutchinson curated the exhibition and publication ‘There is Always an Alternative’ at temporarycontemporary gallery space in Deptford, South London, which then toured to International 3 in Manchester. The exhibition proposed an alternative story of the period of artistic activity in the UK during the early 1990s – an alternate history to both the dominant yBa story and its leading counter-narrative aligned to DIY artist-run spaces such as City Racing and Bank, of which both temporarycontemporary and International 3 are natural descendants. Instead of offering any grand narrative, Beech and Hutchinson were proposing that they are many number of personal alternatives to what passes as dominant cultural history, one of which was told through their hand scribbled notes on the walls next to each artist’s work exclaiming how they had met the artist, what they were doing at the time and how they ended up working together. ‘There is Always an Alternative’ was not an alternative exhibition history in itself, but a proposition for the endless alternative accounts that make up cultural history. Without their initiation, such a narrative would remain untold, but it also enabled Beech and Hutchinson to insert their own practice into some meaningful framework for themselves without waiting for it to happen elsewhere. This need for a self-production of a discourse around one’s own practice is, “vital to control some aspects of the manifestation and dissemination of the artwork in the loosest and widest possible sense,” and controlling this discourse at some level seems to be central to both Ele Carpenter and Ian Rawlinson position also, where they relate the ownership of one’s own ideas to the regulation of its reception where, “the artistic principles of the work are contextualised, but not compromised in the process,” or when artists “are able to control the context in which the work is received to a greater extent through self-initiated projects…[and] the absence of an over bearing institutional agenda can allow some room for forms of production and distribution unavailable elsewhere”. This urge to speak on one’s own behalf in a self-generating manner is again mirrored in Pil and Galia Kollectiv’s experience: The best motivation for self-initiated projects is the desire to contextualise one’s work. In the wake of the death of the author, we must ensure that viewers get the best reading conditions. By placing our work alongside not just related or similar work, but work from other disciplines altogether, we can create and more importantly dictate or at least influence the new meanings that emerge from the juxtaposition. The Doing is of Fundamental Importance Self-initiated projects express an urgency to replace a lack of discourse around certain issues as well as providing a less corralled version of the process of one’s own cultural operations. Likewise, by initiating organisational activities, an artist, curator or writer expresses what Annie Fletcher called a, “need to see and discuss artistic practices or to manifest an idea through art which is not being manifested elsewhere” which can open up the possibility for a multitude of short-lived alternative perspectives as well as facilitating a more horizontal critical space for a shared enquiry between participants. Self-initiated projects also deduct the effects of an over-reliant culture, dependant upon our existing fixed institutional structures and conventional critical frameworks – a dependency upon more bureaucratic organisations such as public governing bodies, state commissioners, public-funded museums or established commercial art galleries. As Pavel Büchler argues, such projects also “differ from those initiated by institutions to the extent that they are expressions of an individually perceived sense of necessity, urgency or responsibility.” These initiatives are all urgent and particular to each initiator, and can come in infinite guises, ranging from the artist who takes on a commission in order to fund a new body of work, to the curator who organises a show with a group of artists at a local market stall, to the writer who regularly writes letters to existing art magazines because of a lack of publishing outlets and eventually self-publishes them as a zine. For each of the fore-mentioned artist, curator, or writer, they may only wish to continue this type of work for a limited period before they move toward their eventual goal. It is the doing that is of fundamental importance, within which certain previous unknown possibilities can open up. In many ways all cultural projects, regardless of their resistant origins, have an uneasy and habitually co-dependent relationship with established institutional structures and will often necessitate their support at a future stage in order to move things forward. It does not naturally apply that all self-organised projects are necessarily better than those initiated by institutions, but they do mediate some cultural discrepancy at a given moment in time for at least one member of that culture. This does not mean that such activities provide any concrete alternative to existing power structures, but they do propose that there is every possibility that the existing infrastructures are not to everyone’s satisfaction and that there is always another space in which things can be done differently. Alternatives can be expressed as a drive toward a more constantly shifting field of cultural production as was echoed in an earlier text by Büchler, when he proposed that being an artist means: […] Not doing different things than others do, but doing things differently [and] modern society needs creativity, critical imagination and resistance more than it needs works of art. It needs artists with their own ways of doing things more than it needs the things that they make. It needs the artists for what they are, rather than what they do, then it is in the sense in which artists are producers of culture rather than of discrete artefacts which characterise this culture. An example of Büchler’s approach to thinking about artists for what they do rather than what they make, is apparent in an attitude of hospitality that often emerges in his projects, such as the bookConversation Pieces. This was produced to accompany his exhibition at Tampere in Finland, 2003, when he commissioned nine practitioners including John Stezaker, Simon Morris, Tim Brennan, Sharon Kivland and Will Bradley to produce a piece of writing that was in dialogue with his work but only to use it as a magnifying glass or optical lens for their own practice. The texts vary in style and approach, but central to each is how the writers use the provided context to produce extensions of their own practice and not merely respond to Buchler’s work. It is a non-prescriptive invitation that acts as a contemplative trigger for each of the contributors to reflect on their own work. The texts becoming a means of exploring their own ideas, and the invitation as an excuse do produce something new for themselves. There are infinite examples of such projects based on varying modes of the hospitality principle, where there is always a two-way exchange between host and guest. Some Notable Initiatives Closer to home, numerous initiatives such as Via, Four Gallery, Feint zine and Pallas have all taken hospitality as their central organising principle for accommodating local practice. Other variations on the theme of hosting have included Sarah Pierce’s The Metropolitan Complex, Dublin, where she holds informal meetings between local practitioner’s to discuss their concerns as a way of understanding her own and publishes the proceedings in a newspaper; Do Something For Floating IP at the artist-run space Floating IP in Manchester, 2004, where the artists Dave Beech and Graham Parker simply asked artists to do something for them as a way of kick-starting their programme, but without limitation and all responses were exhibited, in order to grasp the general direction of their own organisation or the first exhibition at The Colony Gallery space in Birmingham, when All at Once, 2006was initiated by Paul McAree and Mona Casey, whereby all artworks proposed as part of an open submission where accepted regardless of merit, as a means of establishing an artist network for the organisation, and temporarycontemporary (Jen Wu and Anthony Gross, London) have always taken an open curatorial approach to their expansive exhibitions, without being tied down to an overarching or restrictive thematic and accommodating as many artists as is within their expanding local and now international network. Conclusion Self-organisation is about undoing certain historical preconceptions of any set notion of what roles an artist, critic or curator can take on. As Dave Beech claims, “it is about doing things on your own terms” and “taking control of the means of distribution” that have an impact on the work, which can provide a mode of resistance to art’s institutions and to resist the conventions that artists make, critics and curators display. Self-organisation also offers an alternative to art’s institutions from which they can learn and adopt, although at a different speed of engagement. If everyone waited for supportive assistance, the progress of culture would be at a relatively fixed rate, whereby the inherent distribution of power would be maintained as a certain level from the top down. As David Blamey states: It is important that some artists and curators organise their own projects. The art world relies upon independent producers to challenge its power base just as democracy flourished with a measure of dissent. As new ideas and practices are assimilated into the mainstream the prevalent culture of agreement is protected and the power base maintained. For James Hutchinson, the existing framework for cultural activity is always shifting around and it is up to the artist/ curator to recognise gaps in the existing cultural framework and to generate new conventions for operating, which in turn can be subverted further in a constantly shifting environment. Hutchinson describes these gaps in culture as “alternative space”, and he claims that “once the gap is filled, it becomes part of the existing framework for other artists/curators (i.e. institutionalised)… and the gaps change all the time and new gaps form” which can never be completely filled at any one time. Similarly, for Liam Gillick, the benefits of self-initiated projects is in the acknowledgement of culture as having certain gaps or can be expressed as having the “potential for absences; modes of refusal; excess or lack of mediation; use of new spaces, geographies and proximities; avoidances of the validating processes of official culture” and that self-organised projects can “question the established mediating structures that develop around cultural activity with specific instrumentalised aims that might run contrary to the critical potential of art now.” As well as gaps in culture there are always gaps in one’s personal knowledge. By establishing a way of working in the world that employs knowledge producing attributes learnt through self-organised projects one can begin to think of those gaps in our culture as opportunities for, rather than obstacles to, our own self-education. As David Goldenberg described the effects of his first self-initiated projects on the whole development of his later and more established practice: Later self-initiated projects were seen as a possibility for developing a project completely on my own terms. While I treated the construction and formulation of a project as an extension of my practice and thinking, where staging a project allowed the possibility for working through ideas for assembling and staging the different components of an exhibition – in other words, a project is a reflection of a complex understanding of how an exhibition is constructed and how one element is dependent on all the other elements. This led to a type of critical practice that tested out available positions and the limitations of the construction of the exhibition. This blurring of roles, where the artist and curator merge, and a meta-understanding of staging a project was developed, and corresponded [with an] understanding of [how] the methodology of a contemporary practice [could] provide the critical tools to dismantle and deconstruct the ideological construction of the traditions of modern art. Many of the responses to my questions mirrored Homi Bhabha’s well worn statement, that “in every emergency, there is an emergence.”  What Goldenberg self-determining response demonstrates is not just how self-initiated projects are a necessary tool during periods of emergency in one’s career, but also how out of such self-organisations can emerge a more complete practice, which also benefits from being more skilled, networked and well-informed. Self-initiated projects are about projecting onto a desirable future for yourself and others. From initial idea to eventual completion, self-organised projects increase one’s understanding of the complexities of the processes and stages of its development. Alongside the knowledge that is gained through these experiences, one can begin to configure in one’s mind how even the institution of culture itself is more of a long-term construction rather than a short-term fix. By Paul O’Neill  Paul O’Neill is an artist and curator researching curatorial histories at Middlesex University. He writes regularly for Art Monthly, The Internationaler and ContemporaryDe Appel and Open Editions published his edited anthology of new writing on curatorial practice, Curating Subjects, in November 2006.


Universes in Universe / Caravan / 6th Sharjah Biennial

Sharjah enters the eye of the art storm
By Antonia Carver

“It’s all quite strange,” one Emirati student confided. “But I think I like it.” This turned out to be a typical reaction to the highly contemporary sixth Sharjah International Biennial. The efforts of Biennial director Hoor Al Qasimi, the support of her ruling family, and the work of London-based curator Peter Lewis had paid off: this was without doubt the most ambitious contemporary art event ever staged in the Gulf, possibly the Arab world. Against the backdrop of war in Iraq, and a sea of event cancellations in the Gulf, the month-long show brought together work by 117 artists from 25 countries. Incredibly, around 100 artists arrived for the openings on April 8 in the cavernous new Expo Centre and traditional Art Museum.

Sharjah is the most conservative of the UAE’s federation of seven emirates, dominated by oil-rich Abu Dhabi; in this, and its enthusiasm for art and culture, the city is a sharp contrast to the rampant commercialism and shiny high-rises of neighbouring Dubai, the tourism and business hub. Sharjah’s five previous Biennials have tended to concentrate on local and traditional artforms, especially painting. There are few public spaces to show art in the UAE, and artists often resort to exhibiting in shopping malls and offices. The few commercial galleries tend to feature tourist-oriented watercolour or oil landscapes. Within the Middle East, Bahrain and Amman are emerging, Beirut and Tehran have burgeoning art scenes, and Cairo an occasional biennial, but otherwise, the opportunities for contemporary artists to show ‘at home’ is limited.

All in all, the determination of Hoor Al Qasimi to reposition Sharjah alongside new contemporary art capitals such as Havana and Gwangju is remarkable. ‘My inspiration was actually Documenta,’ said the 23-year-old daughter of Sharjah’s ruler, ‘but I just didn’t expect to the [Sharjah] Biennial to be on the scale it is, I can’t quite believe what we’ve done here.’

Sharjah Biennial had all the hallmarks of an international contemporary art event, from a doorstop tome of a catalogue packed with artspeak to a minimalist café, via ‘bizarre’ performance art on the opening night. Local gallery visitors nervously avoided Motoko Ohinata’s ‘Rabbit Person’ nibbling a carrot on the Museum stairs, but delighted in Tatsumi Orimoto’s breadman performances.

Following recent international art traditions, it was video that hit the headlines, from Masharawi’s docos of the Intifada to Kentridge’s animated drawings. Palestinian film-maker Rashid Masharawi was commissioned to produce a new work especially for the Biennial. This was a wise move: his three-part ‘Shahrazad’ is an exceptional, unsettling portrait of the tension of daily life under occupation and as a refugee. Appropriately, he was rewarded with a Sharjah Art Prize. Art world darling William Kentridge also took home a major prize for his rich, animated films critiquing Apartheid and post-Apartheid South Africa. (His countryman Zwelethu Mthethwa also turned in admirable work.)

Other artists awarded by the panel included young British sculptor Jim Coverley, who was discovered by Hoor Al Qasimi at his London degree show two years ago, and UAE artist Mohammed Kazem, whose photography was everywhere, gracing most marketing material and the cover of the Biennial catalogue. The young Emirati made an ideal exhibition poster boy. His colour-saturated autobiographical photos explore the local’s relationship with his ever-changing environment.

Moving slightly further afield, Wejdan Salem Almannai’s canvasses packed with pins definitely bore out her desire to make ‘a concentrated sphere of slow pain’. She is one to watch. Pakistani artist Zain Mustafa was lucky enough to have his clothes line of 21 kurtas signed by Sharjah’s emir. The art-loving Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi added ‘Silence the canons’ to the peace graffiti covering the torn traditional clothes.

Despite the plethora of artistic and political influences, it is possible to pull out a number of thematic strands. As befits shifts within the international art world, the Biennial had a strong Asian presence, spearheaded by the highly intelligent and engaging art of Tatsuo Majima.

Some of the most successful displays thoughtfully reacted to unfolding political events: Iranian-American Taraneh Hemami normally exhibits her old photographs printed on blocks of layered, mirrored glass in patterns on the gallery wall. For the Biennial, she filled her booth with a pile of rubble and inserted the blocks into the scene of war-like destruction. The images were donated by Iranians living in the US: each was a precious, vulnerable block of memories.

Other artist’s exhibits were tightly-curated displays of their own. Londoner Chris Grottick had the advantage of showing in the Museum a few years before: he designed a stunning video piece especially for the end of the long corridor. Upcoming German artist Klaus Fritze filled his space with thousands of newspaper clippings – faces snipped out, obsessively sorted and displayed in test tubes, on stalks and forks or hanging from clothes pegs. His overwhelming media museum was highly appropriate given the current glut of news from the Middle East. Sharjah-based Palestinian photographer Tarek Al-Ghoussein pulled out all the stops with his huge lightbox photographs, displayed in their own darkened mini-gallery at the Expo Centre. Autobiographical, the images document the artist in the UAE and Jordan, dressed in the emotive and highly symbolic kaffir.

London-based Zineb Sedira’s exhibition included a poignant, subtle set of photographs of her grandmother’s house in Algeria, accompanied by the immediacy of a three-part video piece. On separate screens, grandmother, mother and daughter spoke to each other in Arabic, French and English respectively, unflinchingly never seeming to understand one another. ‘That’s our lives!’ exclaimed a Dubai-based Jordanian-Palestinian colleague. Simply, directly, movingly, Sedira encapsulated the émigré experience. Among the many other artists examining ideas of nationhood and diaspora, Briton Beth Derbyshire’s installation ‘Babel’ also stood out as warm and thought-provoking.

Other artists’ work just fitted seamlessly into the Gulf environment. Iranian hotshot Farhad Moshiri’s cabinet of gold-plated trinkets (Mickey Mouse, mobile phones, porcelain figurines and so on) was an urbane wink at kitsch consumerism. The inspired installation found its natural home in the UAE, the place where, as AA Gill once wrote, ‘malls go on holiday’. Santu Mofokeng’s stunning photographs of advertising billboards in South African townships again delved deep, beyond a simplistic reading of consumerism. Another Iranian artist – Seifollah Samadian – also stole the show with his subtle and beautifully-composed video of a black chador-clad woman meandering, seemingly lost, in the white-out of a Tehrani snowstorm.

Beirut’s artist-theorists Jalal Toufic and Tony Chakar added intellectual weight to proceedings at the exhibition and symposium, where some fascinating papers grounded the work in the context of the Arab world. Unfortunately the debates were not widely publicised and attendance was low.

Against all this up-and-coming talent from the Middle East and its diaspora, the inclusion of time-honoured artists such as Christo and Jeanne-Claude – represented by photographs of famous site-specific projects from the 1980s – seemed almost redundant.

Despite the overwhelmingly enthusiasm from the visiting artists, a few gripes emerged. For some, installing work turned out to be a traumatic process, and on opening day, a few pieces remained unfinished. The curators’ theme of ‘new aesthetics, new practices’ was underdeveloped in parts. But these points are minor.

Sharjah is now on the world stage when it comes to contemporary art. Artists, and the few curators and gallerists that made the trip, agreed that the exhibition competed easily with more established biennials, and that showing their work in Sharjah was an enriching experience. Local audiences were ‘fresh’ to the work, many were viewing and appreciating it free of artworld theories or context. Returning to the show near the end of its run, the Museum was still attracting visitors, especially local women, some returning several times to absorb the shock of the new. The curators had a bold vision and were wise to include ‘censored’ work, even if it could not be openly displayed. (An obvious example was the collection of S Chandrasekaran’s cycle-of-life drawings: many of the small frames were flipped over, leaving it up to the viewer to peak at the image behind.)

Sharjah Biennial has the capacity to build on its reputation for grand forward-thinking and become the preeminent showcase for art in the Middle East, even if the centres of creation remain Cairo, Beirut, Tehran and – for diaspora artists – London and Paris. If the Biennial can cement its status as the pacemaker of Middle Eastern art, it could distinguish itself from other artfests and become a one-stop-shop for curators interested in the Middle East. Cynical or not, current political events have created a new thirst for complex visions of the region; many of the artists highlighted in the Biennial tell an alternative story to that of bombastic news reports. Perhaps spring 2003 will be remembered as the launch of a new era in contemporary art in the Gulf.



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