Sunday 20th of September


Now that post-modernity has come to an end and the era of alter-modernity has been announced, is the perennial exhibition still relevant? By addressing the questions that some biennials have themselves been asking recently about the potential and limits of the format, this day’s lectures will focus on the future. It will reflect on the responsibility and the role of the curator, and will discuss the recent tendency towards new discursive models for biennials, as well as the consequences of these changing exhibition structures for artists, curators and the public. Why is ‘yet another biennial’ seen as redundant, while new museums or art centres are usually welcomed by the communities concerned? The discussion and thoughts from the preceding days of the conference will be summed up, and the potential for new curatorial paradigms as well as the idea of a biennial in Bergen will be assessed.

Venue: Grand Hotel Terminus – Terminus Hall

* 10.00 Introduction

* 10.15 Discursive models by Bruce W. Ferguson
The tendency towards discursive formats in biennial exhibitions will be discussed at this lecture. In what sense have discursive biennial models responded to the need for new exhibition-making models? Historically, why and in response to what impulses did this shift happen? Has art (and the discursive turn in art) actually deflected the direction of the discursive model, or has it been the other way round?

* 11.00 Curatorial responsibility by Shuddhabrata Sengupta
In this lecture, the responsibility of the biennial curator will be discussed. This ‘responsibility’ could be thought of in various ways: in terms of the definition of the biennial as a critical public space, in terms of the idea of the ‘local’ versus the ‘international’, in terms of the writing of (future) histories of art, and in terms of the limits and definitions of centre versus periphery. This lecture aims to propose ideas as to how biennials might be (responsibly) curated in the future and how they can continue to be culturally relevant, both locally and internationally.

* 11.45 Biennial format by Ranjit Hoskote
While several issues – the proliferation of the biennial, the explosion of the art fair and the increasing construction of new museums – have at times been conflated, this lecture will focus on ways in which the biennial exhibition might offer a distinctive format for pro¬duc¬tion/presentation as opposed to other formats. In this context, we can discuss the role of a variety of components – catalogues, press releases, curatorial statements, venues, architecture, the organization of artworks in space, etc. – in the construction of the thing we call a biennial exhibition, also relating them to specific examples. This lecture will also draw on the preceding discussions to argue for the future or potential of the biennial as a format.

* 12.30 To Biennial or Not… and Bergen? by Rafal Niemojewski
Many cities in the world are currently thinking about establishing a biennial or triennial. When approached by Bergen City Council to initiate a biennial, Bergen Kunsthall opted to start by hosting an international conference to discuss the status of the biennial as an exhibition model, as well as to critically examine all the pros and cons of hosting a bi-annual contemporary art event. Rafal Niemojewski was invited to visit Bergen and research its cultural infrastructure and exhibition spaces. This lecture will address the conclusions of his research and attempt to ‘fuse’ previous lectures at the conference with his opinions on the question: ‘To Biennial or Not… in Bergen?’.

Break at 13.15. Free light meal will be served.

* 14.00 Panel discussion with all the lecturers and wrap up

Moderator: Monika Szewczyk
Reviewer: Nikos Papastergiadis