The most sensational art story of the past year has been the ongoing ferment surrounding the Manifesta 10 European Biennial of Contemporary Art, which will be open through the end of October in St. Petersburg.
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The biennial, directed and curated by German curator Kasper Konig, was supposed to be particularly festive, a way of marking the 250th anniversary of the establishment of the Hermitage Museum. There was great enthusiasm about the combination of classical and contemporary works.
But Russia’s new homophobic legislation spoiled the party somewhat, and the military intervention in Ukraine and arrest of the Pussy Riot band members gave rise to a wave of protests, manifestos, calls for a boycott and passionate discussions about whether or not art has the potential to change reality.
But Manifesta 10 isn’t the only arts biennial on the block.
The main event of the coming year will, of course, be the Venice Biennale’s 56th International Art Exhibition, to be held May 9, 2015, until November 22, 2015. It will be curated by Nigeria-born Okwui Enwezor, the director of Munich’s Haus der Kunst art museum. The subject of the main exhibition and the list of participating artists have yet to be released.
Let’s also take a look at some other exhibitions that will be opening around the world in the next three months:
Shalom from Brazil
* Two of the curators of Brazil’s 31st Bienal de Sao Paulo — Galit Eilat and Oren Sagiv — are Israeli. This exhibition, which will take place September 2 through December 7, appears to be the only large international exhibition in the coming year to which Israel artists were invited.
The exhibition’s theme is things that don’t exist, a premise the curators see as a poetic call to the promise of art, and a discussion of the abilities and limitations of art to influence and reflect life, power and faith. On the agenda is how to talk about things that don’t exist, as well as how to live with them, use them, struggle against them and learn from them.
Participating artists include Israelis Yael Bartana and Yochai Avrahami, as well as Ruanne Abou-Rahme and Basel Abbas, Asger Jorn and Wilhelm Sasnal.
* “Burning Down the House,” South Korea’s 10th Gwangju Biennale, is set to explore “the process of burning and transformation, a cycle of obliteration and renewal witnessed throughout history.” Asia’s biggest biennale will be curated by Jessica Morgan, a curator at the Tate Modern, and will include exhibits by 105 artists from 39 countries, including 35 new projects. It will be open September 5 through November 9. Participating artists include Akram Zaatari from Lebanon, Carsten Holler from Belgium, Yves Klein from France, Ulrike Ottinger from Germany, Yoshua Okon from Mexico, Tomoko Yoneda from Japan and Urs Fischer from Switzerland.
* On September 11 the “Pasolini Roma” exhibition, about the Italian writer and filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922-1975) and his relationship with Rome, will open in Berlin. The exhibit calls Pasolini “the most provocative figure in Italian society,” who “sought to explore timeless, archaic themes: the fate of man, rural life, religion, sexuality, death.” The idea of Pasolini in Rome, it says, “conjures up visions of poetry, politics, a zest for big-city living, sex, friendship and cinema.”
The exhibition, which will close on January 5, is divided into six sections that reflect six periods in his life and work, from his arrival in Rome on January 28, 1950, until his death on the outskirts of Ostia on January 2, 1975.
* The ninth Taipei Biennial, which opens September 13, is meant to be “a tribute to coactivity, the assumed parallelism between the different kingdoms and their negotiations,” and features works on swarming animals, data processing, rapid plant growth, deforestation and global warming. Called “The Great Acceleration” and curated by Nicolas Bourriaud, it will emphasize the destructive aspects of global industrialization. It is open through January 4, 2015.
* “Niki de Saint Phalle,” an exhibition honoring the prolific mid-20th-century French painter and sculptor, who died in 2002, will open September 17 at the Grand Palais in Paris. Curated by Camille Morineau, the exhibit covers the life of one of the first women to receive international acclaim and recognition during her lifetime, as well as successfully create a public persona.
* The Istanbul Modern will be hosting “100 Years of Love” in honor of 100 years of Turkish film. The exhibit, which is open September 25 to December 31 and curated by Gokhan Akcura and Muge Turan, will emphasize the “moments of encounter between film and audience.”
An October of retrospectives
* “Robert Gober: The Heart Is Not a Metaphor,” the first large-scale survey of the American sculptor’s career to take place in the United States, will open at New York’s Museum of Modern Art on October 4. His work includes what the exhibit calls “deceptively simple sculptures of everyday objects — beginning with sinks before moving on to domestic furniture such as playpens, beds, and doors” as well as “theatrical room-sized environments.” The exhibition will emphasize Gober’s important place in the criticism of institutions, homosexuality and psychoanalytic theories regarding artistic creation, and will be open until January 18.
* Also at the MOMA, “Soul of the Underground,” an exhibit on French artist Jean Dubuffet will be open October 18 through January 18.
* An exhibition of Rembrandt’s late works will open at London’s National Gallery on October 15, the same day as the opening of the well-regarded art fair at Frieze London. This is a rare opportunity to see 40 paintings, 20 drawings and 30 prints by the master, which were borrowed from many museums (open through January 18).
* The New Orleans arts biennial “Prospect.3: Notes for Now” will take place October 25 through January 25, 2015.
* “Conflict, Time, Photography,” which examines 100 years of the relationship between photography and war and is timed to coincide with the centenary of World War I, will open November 26 at London’s Tate Modern (open through March 15).
* “Larry Sultan: Here and Home,” the first retrospective of the California photographer (1946–2009), will be open November 9 to March 22, 2015, at California’s Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
February-March in New York
* A comprehensive exhibition of On Kawara, “Silence,” will open on February 6, 2015 at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. Kawara was one of the leaders in long-term, process-based art. The work of the late Japanese-born artist embodies a visual philosophy based on serial activities which continue over long periods of time, and deals with time and space.
On display, among other works, will be the “I Got Up” series of postcards (which he wrote and which he sent from destinations all over the globe) and the “I Am Still Alive” telegram series. Kawara, one of the most important radical conceptual artists from the 1960s on, died in June at the age of 81, and the show planned at the Guggenheim has now become one that will commemorate his life and his work (until May 3).
* On March 5-8 the Armory Show international contemporary and modern art fair will be held in New York, parallel to a retrospective exhibition on singer-artist Bjork at the MoMA (March 7). The latter will showcase two decades of “biophilia,” beginning with the first album she issued in 1993. The exhibition will also include her collaborations with video directors, photographers, fashion designers, and other artists (until June 7).
* The Whitney Museum, after striking a resounding final chord in its former residence – a megalomaniacal retrospective of Jeff Koons that is still on through October 19 – will strike an equally resounding opening chord in its new home in the spring of 2015. At that time, in its interior and exterior exhibition spaces, the Whitney will present its entire collection simultaneously, including over 21,000 American works that have been collected since the early 20th century.
* From May 14-17 the Frieze New York contemporary art fair will take place on Randall’s Island, Manhattan.
And May in Venice
* The main event in the coming year will, of course, be the 56th Venice Biennale, which will open on May 9 and close on November 22, and will be curated by Okwui Enwezor. Enwezor, a curator, writer and art critic, is director of the Haus der Kunst art institute in Munich, and former artistic director of biennials in South Africa, Spain and South Korea, and of the Documenta exhibition in Kassel, Germany as well as of many other international shows.
In 1994 he started NKA: Journal of Contemporary African Art, published by Duke University in North Carolina, and he has written a large number of articles and essays, and in addition the influential book “Archive Fever: Uses of the Document in Contemporary Art,” in 2008. Enwezor’s main areas of interest center around archival art, the history of museums, art and photojournalism, and African urbanism in the post-colonial era. The subject of the main Biennale exhibition and the list of participating artists have not yet been publicized.