Under the direction of the late Harald Szeemann, the 1st Edition of the Seville Biennial (BIACS 1) brought a large number of internationally recognized artists to the city, signalling the development of the region as a growing part of the larger community of contemporary art. Now with BIACS 2, Artistic Director Okwui Enwezor will expand upon the foundation established two years ago, with the exhibition project: The Unhomely: Phantom Scenes in Global Society.
Artistic Director of Documenta 11 in Kassel (1998-2002) and the Second Johannesburg Biennale (1996-1997), Enwezor will work closely with a number of individuals and organizations to create various sites for reflection, interaction, and critical dialogue. These sites will serve as forums for artists, thinkers, and the public to consider the situation of contemporary art today and artists engagement with a wide range of aesthetic, political, social, and cultural issues. These activities will unfold along a number of axes:
To begin, BIACS 2 will expand outward from its predecessor, as the exhibition will now occupy two main sites within the city of Seville; moving across the Gualdalquivir River, using the bridge that links the Isla de Cartuja to the historical centre. In addition to the ongoing collaboration with the Monasterio de la Cartuja de Santa Maria de las Cuevas, the Foundation for the International Biennial of Contemporary Art of Seville is pleased to announce a second site for the exhibition, the Reales Atarazanas, an impressive shipbuilding structure dating to the mid 13th century. Situated near the centre of Seville and adjacent to the banks of the Guadalquivir, the Reales Atarazanas is at once stunning and sprawling; its numerous halls and naves will now host a rich collection of sculpture, painting, photography, film, video, and other large-scale installations by internationally renowned artists.
Continuing with Enwezor's engagement with methods of dissemination of knowledge, the two main sites of the exhibition will be augmented by several collaborations between BIACS and cultural institutions based in the city. One such collaboration is an extended pedagogical program with the University of Seville, which hosts over 60,000 students. The result of this work will be the establishment of an education program designed to engage not only exhibition visitors but also the greater public of Seville and the Andalusian region. The programs will be reinforced through lectures, conferences, and presentations by visiting scholars, artists, and thinkers. These three sites - the Monastario de la Cartuja, the Atarazanas, and the University of Seville - will serve to align the movement of people and ideas throughout the city during the course of the exhibition.
Such a constellation prompts us to ask, "What is the space of the Unhomely?" To answer this question, the exhibition must look beyond the metaphor of the city and begin to reflect upon the complex nature of adjacency and the asymptotic importance of residing next-to, outside-of, or with-in a given site. For example, how might we begin to evaluate the nuanced relationship between Northern Africa and Europe, as a problem space? If so, then how do artists, activists, thinkers, and the public address, confirm, or deny this?
To engage the issue of adjacency (next-to, outside-of, or with-in) and various "problem spaces" the exhibition project and its various affiliates will utilize a number of venues and forums. This includes a planned film festival in collaboration with the Cinémathèque de Tanger, a newly remodelled independent cinema located on the Grand Socco Plaza in the heart of Tangiers, Morocco. The film festival planned for late autumn will not only address the complexity of the space existing between Europe and North Africa, but also provide a platform for further dialogue on the concept of neighbourliness.
Further, beginning in mid spring of this year and running throughout the course of the Biennial, a weekly Op-Ed column in collaboration with the Seville-based newspaper ABC will be published in local, regional, and national press; this ongoing project will serve as an additional outlet for philosophers, artists, thinkers, and cultural critics to reflect upon the condition of the
unhomely tracing the great disturbances that have unsettled social, cultural, economic, and political relations in many regions of the world. More than simply a series of articles and interviews, this aspect of the Biennial will be a vital public tool for critical debate in a global community.
Finally, in conjunction with "The Unhomely: Phantom Scenes in Global Society," a comprehensive catalogue will be published in the form of a book and a reference. Not simply a representation of BIACS 2 and the exhibition, the catalogue will feature a variety of critical essays by thinkers from philosophy, art, political theory, and will represent the moment in which the exhibit takes place.