Presenting instead of Exhibiting

Berlin Biennale


Berlin Biennale

The press conference of the 7th Berlin Biennale:
the case of presenting instead of exhibiting

An Paenhuysen

The 7th Berlin Biennale curated (or shall we say “mobilized”) by the Polish artist Artur Zmijewski used from its start a religious-sounding, redemptive vocabulary. And no, it’s not anything near Joseph Beuys’ work, which has more complexity and irony in its little finger. A new word had to be invented for this Biennale – “under-complex”, a neologism created by the Berlin artist and critic Wolfgang Müller.

His criticism is the only substantial critique that has been written in Germany since the start of the 7th Berlin Biennale’s call for artists (for those who read German: http://jungle-world.com/artikel/2012/04/44765.html and http://www.jungewelt.de/2012/03-06/015.php). As such, it was not so wrong that the attention at the Biennale’s press conference was directed towards the responsibility of the journalists.

Let me first sketch the mise-en-scène of the event. The press conference was arranged as a kind of political meeting where the roles got reversed: not the organizers/curators were under scrutiny, but the press was. We were all sitting in a circle around the prominent figures of the event. There was no stage. That way there were, so it was stated in all earnest, no hierarchies between the VIP’s and the audience.

The rest of the “meeting” was, unfortunately, more of the same superficiality and naivety. AZ was mumbling but what I did understand was the following: his aim is “to create something that can survive the Biennale”. He refutes the lack of “solidarity” in the art world. Therefore he wants to establish a “situation where people feel solidarity and express solidarity. ”We were all moved to tears for a second. Yet, the “situation” changed radically when the “Movement” (that is AZ’ “comrades”), were asked to get the ball rolling.

Read the original at Yaffo

Thomas Büsch

Filmmaker, Founding Member and Secretary General of diyalog, promotion of cultural exchange with Turkey. Since 2012 he is also project manager of InEnArt.

5 thoughts on “Presenting instead of Exhibiting

  • good report, thanks

    i want to say that to put the cool groups that are dealing with social political and economic struggles, which are cool stuff that is happening out there, inside the white cube is not only lazy but also stupid!!! it is poor using if not abusing it!!!

    I did not expect much from the whole thing!!! when you know that who was doing it, he in his own work always was looking for and working with the sensationalistic, the effects or lets say more like tricks but strategic never making real statement or standing for something. just using the situation to gain attention. but this time it failed badly!!! i am glad the piece you wrote specify the lack of honesty and the contradictions shown in the attitude from the makers in not allowing any serious questioning and other issues!!! this 7th berlin biennalle is a fiasco and will not be remembered!!!

    one more thing – major newspapers like the FAZ did also write a sharp critic on it!!!

  • “Yet, the “situation” changed radically when the “Movement” (that is AZ’ “comrades”), were asked to get the ball rolling.”

    This article shows an incredible lack of knowledge about the implication of real activists within the space of the KW and the unfortunate 7th Biennale, with which most of the Berlin activists I personally know are trying to distance themselves. There are some people who enjoy the indoors-camp in the KW, even some other who seem to be trying to get there “art works” promoted, but the activists who organized the press conference weren’t to my knowledge either a) AZ’s comrades, nor b) organized or directed by this guy. There are still some people getting involved inside the Biennale rooms, just to use that public space for political discussion (NB: people who are not getting involved in the Biennial of arts, only joining what’s being tagged as “movement”, although this possibility is for many both difficult to comprehend – and also difficult to accept). Yep, it seems easier to write a piece of accusing and based on (unluckily false) assumptions about the working group who dared participating in the press conference.

    I was there at the KW the night before at the public asamblea, in the space that the Biennale has “offered” to the “occupiers” (all these “terms and conditions” being almost constantly problematized by many of the activists, who even doesn’t feel like participating in this kind of Biennale-revolution-zoo, being ourselves used by those “artists” for their exhibition in Berlin to be successful…). Can anyone understand this? The whole situation is very problematic and often problematized and self-criticized by those people you saw at the press conference. Even if no one really wants to get to the core and just feel happy with those kind of must-be-obviously-like-I-am-assuming-this-to-be. The two guys who took the role of trying to question the fuss around activists made by the journalists attending the conference (as well as by the Biennale organization itself, with its VIP’s and other nonsense, which really are 2 different things) where just those who volunteered, and there were just no girls who wanted to get involved. Yes, someone brought the very same issue at the asamblea the prior night, but the attendees just decided by consensus that we don’t want to give a damn for parity if there were no girls volunteering for this social act.

    I want to thank once more the courageous activists who wanted to turn things upside down, as I understood it, both the biennale organizers using activism and obscenely mixing it with VIPs and other disgusting things, and the misinforming journalists, who have to sell their souls to get published.

    Try questioning yourself and the way you understand the world for once!

  • Critics say the contemporary art event lacks impact

    The Berlin Biennale, one of the most important contemporary art events in Germany, which opened last weekend (until 1 July), has been greeted with derision in the local and national press.

    According to its critics, there is not enough art on show, and the emphasis on social engagement and political activism is an empty gesture. “The disaster called the 7th Berlin Biennale” was Ingo Arend’s take in the Berlin newspaper Tageszeitung. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung’s Niklas Maak accused the biennial of “lukewarm cynicism” and “deep-seated stupidity”, while Nicola Kuhn said in the Berlin newspaper Der Tagesspiegel that it has “failed spectacularly in its attempt to empower the arts”. At a panel discussion held during the biennial, even Chris Dercon, the director of London’s Tate Modern, admitted “there is not much to see”, but added that “nobody is indifferent to this biennial”.

    By Julia Michalska. From Frieze New York daily edition
    Published online: 03 May 2012

  • Excellent post. I was checking constantly this blog and I’m impressed! Extremely useful information specifically the last part 🙂 I care for such info much. I was seeking this particular information for a very long time. Thank you and best of luck.

Leave a Reply