Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Pan European Encounters - The Venice Biennale 2007

The ICF is both a professional development programme for emerging curatorial talent from the UK of and an organisational platform for exploring and contesting the roles that race and cultural heritage play within contemporary visual culture and the international art scene. . An inaugural symposium ‘Pan-European Encounters’ was also organised during the Venice Biennale to discuss and explore the changing idea of identity and the diaspora in the 21st century. Twenty-three curators from the UK were selected to participate in the visits and 10 group leaders were recruited to accompany them. More than 20 speakers were also engaged for related symposia, seminars and debates.

Participants also included: Nike Jonah, Terry Adams, Tanya Wilmer, Ellie Stout, Mark Waugh, David A Bailey, Axel Lapp, Philip Abraham, Julia Waugh, Huttson Lo, Tim Eastop, Adelaide Bannerman, Melanie Keen, Yvette Mutumba, Yasmin Canvin, Sally Lai, Sook-Kyung Lee, Sarah Raza, Atsuko Ramirez, Sutapa Biswas, Cheryl Gallagher, Juan Sebastian Ramirez, Michael Forbes, Sherman Sam, Emma Boyd, Catherine Lucktaylor, Qian Jing, Alicia Campbell, Cedar Leishon and Esen Kaya.

Pan European Encounters
Sala corte Room
Hotel Monaco & Grand Canal
San Marco 1332

7th June - 8th June 2007

DAY ONE: Thursday 7th June
Welcome: Samenua Sesher, Robert D’Agostino (President of the Arsenale) and Robert Storr (Curator of 52 Venice Biennale)
Prologue: Mario De Michelis (Dean of the University of Venice for Arts)

Keynote: David A Bailey (Curator) - A Black Aesthetic

Panel discussion: A Black Aesthetic. Chair: Mike Philips (Independent curator and Cross-cultural Consultant to Tate Britain), Deborah Smith (Curator), Yu Yeon Kim (Curator), and David Adjaye (Architect).

Questions from the audience.


Keynote: Simon Njami (Curator) - A South African Pavilion

Panel discussion: Chair: Mariam Sharp (Arts Council England), Ekow Eshun (Director, Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) London), Courtney J Martin (Curator), Thelma Golden (Director, Studio Museum Harlem).

Questions from the audience.


DAY TWO: Friday 8th June
The Black Moving Cube
Introduction: The Black Moving Cube by David A Bailey

Panel Discussion: Chair: Gilane Tawadros (Curator), Jacques Ranciere (Theorist/Critic), Otolith Group: Anjalika Saga and Kodwo Eshun (Artists), John Akomfrah (Artist), Zineb Sidera (Artist).

Questions from the audience.

In Conversation: David Lammy (Minister for Culture UK) and Dr Augustus Caseley-Hayford (Executive Director Arts: Arts Council England) Close

The Symposium is delivered with support from the University of Venice and Decibel

The aim of the ICF was to present, a textured geometry - memory and representations; two days of symposia exploring the present tense of aesthetics, politics and the diasporic cultures in the global landscapes of the 'Art World'.

Against the push and pull of a mechanic reproduction of simple stereotypes the ICF has been at the margins of the sometimes disturbing terrain - the space of production and distribution of artworks. We have created a fragile but autonomous borderless state in which as Gillian Tawadros might say the 'Fault Lines' of history shift before us.

This gentle tremor is not merely the rupturing of grand narratives but also a moving through the various 'posts' and missives of a historic discourse into a micro cartography of bodies metabolised, passionate and articulate - urgently exploring the limits of specific locutions; particularly in the context of the Africa Pavilion and the exhibition Check List - Luanda Pop curated by Fernando Alvim and Simon Njami. There is no exit from this space instead we are now always Exiles, displaced signs pointing to histories that have been erased only to be reanimated as artworks.

My moment of elucidation within the symposia was the dialogue between Robert Storr and Simon Njami which exposed the frayed edges of a collaboration and the limits and ethics of curatorial responsibility.

It revealed not only the philosophy of the neighbourhood as Deleuze might say but the symptoms of the sickness Neitzsche would have diagnosed as endemic within power structures such as the Venice Biennale and organisations that are global in their profile and their political power. Their conversation by default located the fissures and economies of determination which are the 'worldliness' of the 'art world'. Could it it be anything but without resorting to bad faith?

Beyond the symposia dialogues we were delighted that our curatorial groups talked around themes raised in the symposia, and by our group leaders but also the intimate resonances each of them had with particular works in the pavilions.

The ambition of the ICF was to develop a professional network within the paradigms of hospitality and friendship. We hope we have facilitated an important set of dialogues and raised questions which can be expanded as we travel through Documenta and Munster. We are keen to stay connected and want to hear what moved, frustrated, excited, shocked and inspired your journey through the labyrinth of the 52 Venice Biennale...

- © Mark Waugh.



Venice Biennale 2007 - Notes from the panel.

1. The Symposium Moment between Robert Storr, Simon Njami and Fernando Alvim
. A dialogue at the limits of responsibility.

2. David Altmejd - The Canadian Pavilion. The exquisite bricolage of the Flaneur

3. Chairing a Panel with Gillian Tawadros, Otolith Group, John Akomfrah, Zineb Sedira and Jacques Ranciere... wow more time please.

4. The security guards in the Africa Pavilion behind the work of Yinka Shonibare, ironic displacement?

5. Crashing out in the Jason Rhodes and feeling my body say, enough is enough!


Monday, 14 May 2007
Letter to The International Curators Forum :

"I have just read the text on the Documenta website titled Migration of Form. It is a clear articulation of where Documenta 12 is heading and I thought made some interesting points regarding the aesthetic moment as liminal space into which we move or depart according to our our volition. You cannot force people to experience art. That is the beauty and sublime nature of art. It calls you into its abyss and broken surfaces to challenge your stable reflection of yourself. In this journey we all become others, multiplicities of territories, routed without clear origin and destined to a future we cannot present.

Has anyone else read it?"

Labels: Documenta, ICF, International Curators Forum, Migration of Form.

photos © Julia Waugh.