Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art 2012

Since its inception in 1998, the Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art has become one of the most important events of contemporary art worldwide. The Berlin Biennale explores artistic developments and visions from within the art scene of one of the most unusual cultural capitals in Europe where it also presents them.
The Berlin Biennale has become a magnet for art lovers from all over the world and is continually praised by an enthusiastic audience as an experimental context-specific exhibition.

Curatorial team

Artur Żmijewski (curator)

For the 7th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art, internationally renowned artist Artur Żmijewski has been invited to develop and implement the exhibition concept. 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.

Żmijewski studied in the sculpture class of Professor Grzegorz Kowalski at the Warsaw Art Academy from 1990 to 1995 as well as at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam in 1999. His work has been internationally shown in numerous solo and group exhibitions. In 2005 he represented Poland at the 51st Art Biennale in Venice. He is member of the Polish political movement “Krytyka Polityczna” and the art director of the magazine of the same name. Żmijewski lives and works in Warsaw.

Joanna Warsza (Associate curator)

Joanna Warsza, 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. Together with Krzysztof Wodiczko she runs a seminar on conflict, trauma and art at the Warsaw Higher School for Social Psychology as well as on the performativity in contemporary culture. She has realized projects with Berlin theater Hebbel am Ufer, Warsaw Museum of Modern Art, the AICA Armenia, the GeoAir Tbilisi, the Centre Pompidou or Biennale de Belleville, both in Paris, among others. She is an editor of Stadium-X – A Place That Never Was.

Since the beginning of 2011 she has worked with Artur Żmijewski on the development and realization of the concept of the 7th Berlin Biennale. Joanna Warsza lives and works in Berlin and Warsaw.

Voina (Associate curators)

Oleg Vorotnikov (AKA Vor), Natalya Sokol (AKA Kozljonok or Koza), Leonid Nikolajew (AKA Leo the Fucknut) and Kasper Nienagliadny Sokol

The art collective Voina (engl.: war) 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.”

We do not expect that the Voina group will be practicing an ordinary curatorship. Maybe they will knock at the doors of artists’ studios, but not to check the art works, but to remind us about the ethos of the artist. They are among the last few believers who practice an art that is a direct political job. They continue their own, limitless, erratic and serious practice in Russia. Have they already done their ‘best artwork’? Is it maybe the huge dick on Litiejnyj brigde in St. Petersburg? We do not think so. Their best artwork is the reminder that as the art world, we are on the way to just become a neoliberal elite who plays for financial gain and the accumulation of symbolic capital. (Artur Żmijewski and Joanna Warsza)

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