The Biennial or about META-Identites


    Andreea Drăghicescu


    The plurality of artistic directions and movements, of styles, as well as of linguistic and metalinguistic languages, in continuous transformation, multiplying and dividing today more than ever, has been around for quite a long time. “The Biennial” is about the multiple META-identities of the 2META group, about intermedial forms of expression, coexisting within the whole and producing a dynamic effect on artistic discourse and its identity, which led to the formula that has become an emblem of the project, “Art Is Always Somewhere Else”.
     
    Ever since the first edition of the project The Biennial of Young Artists, its initiators, the 2META group, were actively aware of the inherent dynamic nature of any artist and any artistic vision defining the contemporary society they were engaged in. This awareness preceded the debut of “The Biennial”, and had been present long before this moment, in and through the artistic projects of the two members of the group, which they have further developed [1]. Throughout the years, during its five editions [2], “The Biennial”, in its very different, yet complementary facets, each with its own specific expression, reflected a unified artistic endeavour, which established itself as an artistic project with a particular format. Recent artistic languages coexist, highlighting the importance of a stance, challenging the audience to take, in their turn, an attitude when they come in direct contact with art. It is not just about expressing an individual attitude “turning into form” and about the material and immaterial visual languages used to define it, but also about the coherence of multiple relationships between entities and generating factors. Moreover, it is about creating a temporary/permanent community, coalescing as a result of multiple series of visitors meeting and interacting, which becomes possible and is established through relational exchanges (Nicolas Bourriaud). Each artwork, and then the organic evolution of the whole, the relationship between subject and object, between artist and curator, between artist and space, between the objects of art and architecture, eventually create a dynamic ensemble, a contextual, relational movement. Thus, a transfer emerges, underlying the relational act itself; the artwork comes into the possession of the visitor, to whom it primarily belongs, regardless of the space hosting it (temporarily or permanently) because the visitor internalizes an idea, which he/she is then empowered to transform into an attitude.
     
    The format of “The Biennial” consists first of all in establishing and expressing a multilayered discourse. We are not dealing with a unique artistic vision but with multiple visions that are valid today, yet tomorrow might (not) become obsolete. We are not talking about one version of discourse, but about several versions of discourse, expressed on different levels, which are in constant motion, intersecting and simultaneously distancing one from the other, and creating, dynamically and unequally, surprise, wonder and astonishment. The Biennial invites the viewer to be present and start generating content; he/she participates in the artistic endeavour, is part of it, and becomes one of its essential components, as his/her role acquires a fundamental function for the existence of the artistic object: “My work is like the light in the fridge. It only works when there are people to open the fridge door. Without people, itʼs not art – itʼs something else – stuff in a room” [3]. The art project is no longer a mere subject of contemplation, because it is subsumed to the contextual and relational language at the same time, as a social form which communicates with the viewer/communicates itself to the viewer, with whom it interacts directly. Artists have an active self-consciousness and they act as unifying element. They do not ignore the past, neither deny, nor refuse it, but recover it through their own languages.
     
    Despite the fact that the multidisciplinarity of biennials is globally thought to be (yet?!) another paradigm [4], and the questions regarding their role and limits are still lingering, “The Biennial” project is established on these very tenets. Multiple, ubiquitous, alternative realities, real and simultaneously imaginary, lead to storing visual meta-discourses. “The Biennial” operates a permanent exchange, from artist to artist, from artist to scientist, from artist to audience. And, of course, vice versa. Visions are thus multiplied, generating new structures, even new theoretical and practical methods that can be subsequently used, in their turn. “The Biennial” is an artistic and social initiative, an autonomous and much more complex endeavour, with an active social involvement and a much larger stake. The boundaries between disciplines tend to be cancelled, not fortuitously, for art’s sake, but programmatically, with artistic intelligence, so that the visual effect challenges the visitor through the image delivered and perceived by sight and consciousness/thinking alike.
     
    From one edition to another, a new international artistic platform was established, which took shape and gained momentum, addressing and serving the interests of wider society, not only those of a restricted, niche, hyper specialized audience.
     
     
    Andreea Drăghicescu
    philologist, museologue and curator
     
     
    [1] See Artopology (META Cultural Centre Gallery, 2001) and the projects on surveillance and sousveillance: I’ve Seen Someone that Wasn’t There (MedienKunstLabor, Kunsthaus Graz, 2008), Sousveillance (VIENNAFAIR, 2009).
     
    [2] 2004: The violence of the image/The Image of Violence – the relationship between identity and violence, the deconstruction of stereotypes through which the artists in South-Eastern Europe were perceived, etc.;
    2006: Absent Without Leave – layered concepts: absence and presence, ephemeral and permanent, norms, relationship between people and institutions, individual identity within a community, here vs. elsewhere, etc.;
    2008: Re-construction – socio-political and artistic reconstruction which followed the collapse of the political communist regime, typical for any period of transition, de-construction and re-construction, etc.;
    2010: Police the Police – forms of surveillance and sousveillance from an artistic and socio-political point of view, etc.;
    2012: Overlapping Biennial – physical reality vs. virtual reality, relationship between technology and art, image coding, information transfer, layered curatorial discourses, etc.
    2014: Bio-pass Art (theoretical symposium) – biometrics, bioart, biotechnology, bioethics, infomedicine, etc.
     
    [3] Liam Gillick, Claire Bishop, Antagonism and Relational Aesthetics (October 10, 2004), p. 61, available online: http://nevolution.typepad.com/files/untitled-leftovers.pdf
     
    [4] International Biennial Association, Biennials in Transformation: Hybridization as New Challenge (international conference), Shanghai Project and Power Station of Art, September 3, 2016, Shanghai.