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7th International Biennial of Photography and Visual Arts - Liege Announced
Jeroen Hollander, "sans titre", de la série Plans Art, 2009. Feutre, papier. ©Jeroen Hollander.

LIEGE.- The International Biennial of Photography and Visual Arts has been organized since 1997 every two years by the Cultural Centre of Liège - Les Chiroux. The event focuses on a specific theme and combines a high quality artistic program with the largest possible accessibility (affordable entrance fee, artistic mediation systems). The Biennial has always supported young emerging artists from Belgium and abroad and has at the same time invited internationally recognized artists to Liège.

Each Liege Biennial offers the unique opportunity to discover the artistic creations of the country invited to present work from a selection of artists. Work from artists in the French Community will then be presented in the partner institution of the invited country and benefit in this way from an international showcase. The Biennial has already established ties with Chile, Canada, France, Poland, Portugal and Brazil in this manner. Finally we should mention the important educational workshops focussing on the chosen theme and undertaken with regional associations and schools one year before the Biennial. Special guest this year: Berlin.

2010, a new Name
The 7th International Biennial of Photography and Visual Arts - Liège will in the future be entitled "BIP2010".

On the one hand the new name contains the heritage of the previous Biennials and on the other hand it confirms the aspect of the new, respecting numerous facets of the contemporary image. In fact the abbreviation BIP refers to the historical identity of the event, i.e. "Biennale internationale de la Photographie" [International Biennial of Photography], but it also puts us in mind of an electronic signal, communicating a particular interest in the New Media that we would like to accentuate in the future.

Indeed the hybridism of the forms of expression, status and forms and constellations of the image will have a central place in the exhibitions, the exploitation of these hybrid forms being essential for feeling the pulse of the contemporary visual creation. In this context photography and also video art and hybrid forms of visual arts will be shown alongside one another at the "BIP2010".

The Theme: This year the theme will be "(OUT OF) CONTROL".
It is via this theme that the organizers wish to explore the tension between the various forms of control regulating our lives and the loss or absence of control resulting from persistence or resistance against them. A special place will be reserved for the new forms of expression generated by this tension. As philosophers like Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze were aware, we are today, more than ever, living in a society of control.

The security discourse implicates that we are - often unknowingly - captured in a multitude of observation and control mechanisms. These range from cameras installed on street corners to tapped telephone conversations. The preoccupation about the profitability and efficiency of the economic system also creates a whole range of procedures as for example the electronic client card archiving our purchases or the capturing of private data by computer "cookies" etc. These actions contribute to gigantic databases, in which the resolutions of our lives and decisions as consumers are classified, conserved and exchanged "at your service".

Omnipresent hygiene and scientific discourse warn us with beating slogans about any excess or abuse we could inflict on our bodies ("Do not smoke", "Do not drink", "Do sport", "Eat healthily" etc.). However, being repetitive and systematic, these slogans sometimes instead evoke a discourse which steals our liberty rather than making us realize just how precious life is. In these processes and discourses of control, "(over)view" plays a special role.

Different methods and mechanisms have been developed based on the model of "seeing without being seen" in order to see better, more or further... From the panopticon (the architectonic system invented by the British Bentham to survey prisoners without them knowing) to urban observation cameras: these visual methods are dubious. Along with ethical questions about how these pictures are used ("seeing without being seen" defines in equal measure voyeurism and surveillance), the question of new forms of perception and representation, created by these mechanisms, is also raised.

All these control mechanisms - and other examples could be listed - create an invisible web around us, controlling each individual's make-believe freedom in order to command his own time, space and his existence. Not all forms of control are negative. Each one of the examples listed above could be regarded separately as progress. Nevertheless, the omnipresence of this broad surveillance, this ever increasing prevention against unforeseen evolutions of life and of the discourses always instructing us to conform to the norm, creates a vague impression of confinement.

This impression contradicts the feelings of emancipation which we may experience in other aspects of modern day life. In this perpetually dangerous situation it is difficult to know what room should be made for the malfunctions, both big and small, which scatter our daily lives. The same could be said for the accidents occurring each day, be they welcome or otherwise as well as for non-conformism in all its forms, coincidences and other imponderables, gentle or raging madness, the excesses we allow ourselves, even if we know that they are unreasonable and for chaos and disorder.

The exhibitions will also consecrate space to these moments out of control, whether they occur by chance or are sought after, as a counterpoint to the control surrounding our lives but also as proof of a continuous breath of fresh air blowing through the chain-mail and relieving us of the predictability with which it is decorated. These moments are what make life so diverse and pin-point the discrepancies which make us smile or think differently.

The International Biennial of Photography and Visual Arts | Cultural Centre of Liège | BIP2010 |

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