6th Athens Biennale 2017 – 2018
Curated: by Heart & Sword Division
The programme of the 6th Athens Biennale launches on 5 April 2017 marking a year of “Active Waiting”, which culminates with the exhibition Waiting for the Barbarians in April 2018. The 6th Athens Biennale is curated by Heart & Sword Division, a group of artists, curators and theorists.
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.