6th Athens Biennale 2017 – 2018
Curated by: Heart & Sword Division
Will there ever be any "Learning from Athens"? What do words such as "education", "freedom", "queer", "north", "south", "indigenous" signify in contemporary cultural debates? Are we witnessing the coming of the Barbarians, or the taming of the Barbarian? The 6th Athens Biennale Waiting for the Barbarians reflects on such questions.
Those Barbarians keep on coming, again and again. Recent biennials addressed the question of the Barbarian. The 2013 Istanbul Biennial entitled Mom, am I a Barbarian? investigated the Barbarian as a counter-image of civic identity, while Ireland’s Biennial 2016 EVA International entitled Still (the) Barbarians discussed Ireland as the primary test ground for modern European colonialism.
Since the start of the new century the Barbarians are ante portas. In the intellectual realm and the art field, though, the Barbarians are often depicted in positive and messianic terms: a new nomadic/rootless/hybrid/global subjectivity. This hypothesis seems to outline how the (im)possibility of resistance and insurrection is understood today and is a premise for our collective failure to foresee today’s escalation of regression.
We let go of assumptions and beliefs. The Barbarian is neither the ominous Other, the refugee, the migrant, the Muslim, nor the exoticizing and eroticizing orientalist, the "menace" of the "northern colonialist". Yet, the Barbarian is closer than ever. We are no hosts, but we invite the Barbarians in.
On the 5th of April 2017 we declare a year of Active Waiting.
Documena (Δοκούμενα) is a project that seeks to respond to how contemporary art production engages with the intense European crisis. At the current historical shifting point, moving from a time of middle class certainties to one of neo-patriotic mobilization of frustrated social strata, we focus on motifs of neoconservative regression or modes of reactionary speech, that seem to inform artistic radicalism and its global institutional mediations. As a grotesque conceptual loan from ancient greek we employ the term “Δοκούμενα”: “the perceptions that function as a given – those things we believe in or we hope for.
Klassenfahrt uses the format of the field trip to promote learning in an applied manner by coming in direct interaction with the object of inquiry in its natural habitat. Very much in the same fashion as school trips in general or even your own graduating class trip. This trip could also be as life changing as the well-known Las Vegas excursion of Yale architecture students with their mentors Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown. School trips enable us to experience new environments and gain our own impressions and perspectives on them. They also open up a space to build more intensive relationships with our own classmates and teachers. A school trip is a break from the incubated educational routine in favour of a multisensory encounter with a group, a society, its environment and its overall cultural context. A class on a school trip may visit particular landscape formations to examine geographical or geological features, or visit archaeological or historical sites. A school trip might also include a visit to a cultural institution, a museum, a zoo, a public agency, a fire station, a hospital, an industry etc. Recent research on the topic has demonstrated that students retain higher factual information from visiting sites and discussing them as opposed to learning of them within the classroom. Moreover, school trip evenings are famous for their joyful elements such as drinking, dancing and letting loose with your fellow student.
A call to the Athens Biennale.
Simultaneously a comment and an opportunity for reflection.
A ceremony, a fanfare and a dive in the updatedsenses
of the European becoming.
An allegorical Europeanclock in the heart of Athens. Dimitris Desyllas