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(Off) Art Holiday: The Mobile Biennale (some considerations)


Bogdan Ghiu

10.08.2014
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For a week (July 28th to August 3rd 2014), up until one week ago, together with a handful of artists, curators, art critics and theorists - arts professionals - Romanian and foreign, representing distinct generations, I participated in what was called "The Tour of Oltenia", first edition (and act) of what was also called, is called to and aimed to become The Mobile Biennale, an outer-quasi-institutional concoction of the entertaining duet acting as Club Electroputere (Alexandru Niculescu şi Adrian Bojenoiu).

The final act of this journey (including and targeting landmarks of all sorts, meaning not only cultural and artistic, such as Constantin Brâncuşi's complex in Tîrgu-Jiu, but also natural ones, such as the famous Danube Canyons Cazanele Mici and Cazanele Mari, or the rather discreet, nevertheless quite spectacular Sohodol Gorges) ended outside Oltenia, in Sibiu, in the archive-museum-studio-architectural masterpiece-and-life-masterpiece home of couple Lia and Dan Perjovschi: the open, pervious, aware-creation dwelling, i.d. how to live directly into the world, how to dwell the world in transparency.

Dan Perjovschi - a perfect host who considerately and generously prepared loads of mini-sandwiches for the travelling artists - could not help but aim straight at the heart of the draft concept of this "event" with his renowned ironic good spirit, partially nurturing his civical-artistic stand, as he confessed to us that he had followed our "progress" on Facebook and that he had had delightful amounts of fun at the association, not in the least suppositional, between the idea of a biennial and our purely leisure time activities.

For yes indeed, we may ask what is and, especially, what could become the "Mobile Biennale"? Could it only be a Dada style institutional-prank (if we were to follow into the practical intuition of Adrian Notz, the director of the artistic establishment Cabaret Voltaire in Zürich, who marked the entire odyssey with group photos - we will not soon forget his staging calls coming where we'd least expect it -, a well known and not only documentary practice of the historical avant-garde)? Or only a push to the boundaries that are equally post-critical, un-desperate, and non-resentful similar to Nietzsche's science, and that are limiting the biennial concept, a concept worn to derision at the moment, but nevertheless standing for the extraordinary and positive inclination to appropriate and radically locate a global concept?

The concept of a mobile biennial certainly includes an ironic-deconstructivist-dialectical content, seemingly evicting specifically the art out of the notion of a biennial, thus only criticising its hypertrophy and condemning the inflationist abuse, namely the strictly current dissociation between the idea of a biennial and the idea of art itself, as the biennial increasingly tends to become a self-performing artistic gesture, however at the price of a radical manipulation of the art concept and of a depletion of art as such. After the "term of art" as art, the term of biennial as a global signifier, as institutional-performing act tends to replace art itself.

Art criticises and pushes the limits of the concept of a "mobile biennial", to finally overcome it: a nomad institution, touching strictly in passing various places that are more or less humble, or that bear a more or less significant cultural-touristic potential, a reunion of artist of "arts professionals" in pre- and/or post-art. If Nicolas Bourriaud's epochal still and after all (at least as a symptom) "relational aesthetics" gathered the public around the works, the "mobile biennial" gathers together only artist, gets them on the road, gets them moving and completely leaves art, works, products aside: only artists together, in a holiday off art that, under the sign of the immaterial and cognitive, growingly takes the resemblance of work. We are taking holidays, we leave on a journey, in a "tour" (another idea of the avant-garde, as Adrian Notz pointed out to us), we temporarily leave art itself which was, more or less, confiscated today from artists, and became generalised and dissolved into the political and economic.

As it starts to recover some of the denied and rejected avant-garde heritage, contemporary art increasingly immerses, as a reflection-creation field, in procedures and especially protocols and quasi-institutional routines, it becomes and a procedural-institutional creation of itself, trying to put back into shape and reshape itself, leaving behind the forced love enforced on it, like the Biblical Joseph by Potiphar's wife, in contemporary capitalism, the capitalism of mandatory pleasure, of getting satisfaction by soft, "feminine" rape.

There is still massive confusion (as to who performs who) between the institution-art (institution replacing art) and art-institution (art as self-institutional invention) and it is specifically this why its evolutions need to be discreetly pushed towards the right path, though the longer and harder one.

(Translation by Sanda Watt)
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