Brussels Biennial 1

1st Brussels Biennial for contemporary Art

Widely acknowledged as the international centre of the European Community, Brussels inaugurates its first contemporary art biennial in 2008. The Brussels Biennial responds to the ever-increasing impact of Brussels and its potential to provide a specific context for the presentation of contemporary art. Characterized by its intuitive insight into the art scene of the highly urbanized region between the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Germany, the biennial takes place from October 2008 through January 2009. With contributions from more than 40 international artists, the biennial incorporates exhibitions by experimental art institutions in Brussels. It represents a first step in a larger project designed as a trans-national endeavour that will unfold in two steps until 2010.

This biennial is built upon an innovative concept, which includes a wide range of institutions and projects regrouped under the conceptual umbrella devised by its Artistic Director, Barbara Vanderlinden. It is the result of a collaboration that crosses traditional boundaries between biennials, exhibitions, institutions, curators and artists. It aims to radically move away from the process in which artworks are produced, presented, disseminated and contextualized. In view of the crucial role of old and emerging institutions, this biennial will strive to present contemporary art in an exhibition developed and curated by a network of visual art organizations.

Thematically, the exhibition is linked to complex ideas emerging from different modern complexities in a global context and its implications on individuals and societies from around the world. The project starts from the active involvement of artists within this new global modern reality.

The relationship between participating institutions will be demonstrated and will be structured according to various aesthetic and thematically built to one another, resulting in a productive exchange between the various contemporary art positions, artworks and audiences. As a result, the biennial will incorporate a patchwork of institutions and an open geography into its sequence of space. These local and transnational activities can be perceived as a chain of travelling cultural worlds and idioms, a network of incommensurable experiments in a global culture. Using the notion of a space of encounters, the biennial wants to lay down a porous line between context and practice, form and medium, artist and system, institution and locality.

It will include the participation of the Drik, Images, Communication & Information Technology, Dhaka (Shahidul Alam); Argos, Centre for Arts and Media, Brussels (Paul Willemsen); B.P.S.22, espace de création contemporaine de la Province de Hainaut, Charleroi (Pierre-Olivier Rollin); Extra City, Centrum voor Hedendaagse Kunst, Antwerp (Anselm Franke); MuHKA (Bart De Baere), Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen, Antwerp; BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht (Mária Hlavajová); Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven (Charles Esche); Witte de With, Centrum voor Hedendaagse Kunst, Rotterdam (Nicolaus Schafhausen and Florian Waldvogel); and L’appartement 22, Rabat (Abdellah Karroum).

The lecture programme of the first Brussels Biennial is composed by Belgian sociologist Pascal Gielen and carried out in collaboration with BAM, the Ghent Institute for Visual, Audiovisual and Media Art; Fontys University of Fine and Performing Arts, Tilburg (the Netherlands); and the Flemish-Dutch Centre deBuren, Brussels.

Alongside the main project of the Brussels Biennale 2008, there will be a series of special projects across Brussels in different institutions of contemporary art. These events e.g. at the Centre for Fine Art will tie the programme of the Brussels Biennial to the city itself.

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