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Prague Biennale 1

Peripheries Become the Centre, National Gallery, Prague, Czech Republic, 2003

Co-curator of the biennale in Prague, I called my section alone/together

Participating artists: Lise Blomberg Andersen, Johanna Billing, Stephan Dillemuth, Kirsten Dufour/Finn Thybo Andersen, Jakob Jakobsen, Henriette Heise, Katie Holten, Laura Horelli and Josef Strau

Johanna Billing / Dufour & Thybo Andersen / Henriette Heise / Katie Holten

What captured my interest in this project was the interplay between the individual and the collective; the individual artist in relation to the group of exhibiting artists. The contributors to this biennial, The Peripheries Become the Centre, were first selected by a single curator and subsequently placed within the much wider context of the larger exhibition, comprising artists chosen by approximately 20 curators. This is to say that the artists were first placed within one collective framework (that of "their" curator) only to be placed within a second collective framework (that of the "organisation" or biennale). In this way, the individual, the artist, became part of a range of collective structures. Some of these were intentional, deliberately chosen, while others were more accidental and involuntary in nature.

The frameworks and limits of society provide some individuals with greater freedom than others, sometimes excluding, amputating or manipulating individual freedom. Individuals can take part in and exercise direct influence on small-scale organisations or groups, but are subject to large-scale superstructures within most contexts. This means that I, as an individual and a citizen of Denmark, am called upon to accept that my government is providing military support and thereby actively participating in a war in Iraq where bombs are used to bring about "peace" and "democracy". If as an individual, I am not interested in accepting my government's position, I am forced to find like-minded people, to collaborate with individuals and groups which share my sentiments.

Generally speaking, we opt out of more than we select, but how do we imbue the sense of being left out with meaning, and how do we as individuals affect the things we actively choose to endorse or opt out of? How does the individual create meaning for him/herself within groups and society? How do the individual and the group challenge the choices, rules, and norms imposed by society?

The title alone/together is rooted in the artists' individual and collective work forms and strategies, in artists who sometimes choose to make individual stands while also appearing as part of a collective group at other times, be it in the form of collaborations, collective exhibition spaces, discussion forums, social interactions, journals, concerts, etc.. The artists work with individual self-reflection and communal ideas and issues, examining and challenging the restrictions of society. Several of the artists involved in alone/together display a socio-political commitment in their work and the world around them, sometimes employing an activist-like approach to investigate how art can question and be critical towards structures in society.

alone/together constitutes an investigation into how individuals relate to groups and society as a whole.

Page last modified on November 08, 2009, at 10:31 PM