Friday 18th of September


The opening day of the conference will lay the foundation for subsequent discussion by focusing on the history and origins of biennials and other perennial international exhibitions from early World’s Fairs and the Venice Biennale, and events including the São Paulo and Havana Biennials and Documenta, to the biennial boom in the 1990s that saw the rise of the Manifesta, Berlin, Istanbul, Gwangju, Mercosul and Dak’Art Biennials, among many others. The discussion will take a close look at the historical events and the socio-economic, geopolitical and artistic contexts that made these recurrent exhibitions possible, even necessary and urgent in some instances. The discussions of this day will also address the motivations and ambitions of these exhibitions over the years.

Venue: Grand Hotel Terminus – Terminus Hall

* 10.00 Introduction

* 10.15 Historical Origins by Caroline A. Jones
This lecture will lay the foundation for understanding the ‘origin story’ and the early history of the biennial. Drawing on research relating to the historical connections between biennials and world’s fairs, the presentation will elaborate on the historical, socio-political and economic contexts that caused biennial exhibitions to emerge and later proliferate.

* 11.00 The Global Art World by Charlotte Bydler
This lecture will discuss issues of globalization that have arguably dynamicized and pluralized international contemporary art circulation. Drawing on her research on ‘the global art world’, Charlotte Bydler will address biennial historicism and genealogical history in a global context: what is the historical narrative of biennials in this perspective?
* 12.45 Discussion

Moderator: Sabine B. Vogel
Reviewer: Vittoria Martini

Dialogue 1
Venue: Bergen Kunsthall
* 16.00 – 18.00 Are the traditional paradigms still relevant today?
by Sarat Maharaj and Carlos Basualdo
The contextualization of the role of the biennial in the debate about issues such as identity politics, nationalism and post-colonialism, and the aspirations of some of the initiatives that respond to these, are of particular interest here. What key notions have surrounded biennial theory (e.g. the West versus the rest, centre versus periphery, local versus global), and are they still relevant today? Can we discern a shift in the theoretical environment, and if so, how does this affect international exhibition-making and biennials in particular?

Reviewer: Vinicius Spricigo

Dialogue 2
Venue: Bergen Art Museum – Lysverket
* 16.00 – 18.00 Did Biennials change art?
by Hans Ulrich Obrist and Anri Sala.
Artists are increasingly asked to accommodate the demand for singular on-site projects in a number of cities around the globalized art world. This panel discussion considers the relationship between art works and biennial sites. What influence have biennials had on art, and art production in general? What is the role of ‘site specificity‘ – inherent to the biennial – and how does this affect art production in comparison with other exhibition venues such as institutions, museums and galleries? Did biennial exhibitions change art, or did art change biennial exhibitions?

Reviewer: Marit Paasche

Gallery Night
* 18:00 – 22:00 Gallery Night
In connection with the conference, several museums and galleries in Bergen open their doors for Gallery Night on Friday 18th of September. Opening hours will be extended from 6pm to 10pm. Free entrance. See the map in the program for directions.

Conference Party
* 22:00 Conference Party
Venue: Bergen Kunsthall/Landmark
The Bergen Biennial Conference is organizing a big party at Bergen Kunsthall and Landmark on Friday night following Gallery Night. The party kicks off at 22.00.

Light snacks and drinks will be served. Specially invited DJ´s La Bibliothèque Musicale (DJ`s & Visuals). Further entertainment/a mini concert is also in the works. We hope to see everybody who is taking part in the conference – speakers, audiences and representatives of all the collaborators involved – at the part