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6th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art Brings Together Numerous Artistic Positions
A woman looks at a photograph by Nilbar Gures during a preview of the Biennale art festival in Berlin, June 9, 2010. The 6th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art will run from June 11 to August 8. REUTERS/Thomas Peter.

BERLIN.- The Berlin Biennale is the forum for contemporary art in one of the most attractive cities for art. Taking place every other year at changing locations throughout Berlin it is shaped by the different concepts of well-known curators appointed to enter into a dialogue with the city, its general public, the people interested in art as well as the artists of this world.

The German capital is continuously under change thus remaining fragmented, diverse and contradictory. It is this particular mixture of high contrasts and a relaxed manner defining Berlin side by side that does not only attract international artists, many of whom choose Berlin as their base and place for production. Every two years the Berlin Biennale explores artistic developments to present the unseen and the unfamiliar before the background of this inspiring atmosphere.

In 1998 the 1st Berlin Biennale took place founded on the initiative of Eberhard Mayntz and Klaus Biesenbach—founding director of the Kunst-Werke Berlin—, in order to promote a representative and international forum for contemporary art in Berlin. Since the year 2004 the KW Institute for Contemporary Art has been the supporting organization of the Berlin Biennale. Its significance for the cultural landscape is reflected in the patronage granted by the German Federal Cultural Foundation.

Klaus Biesenbach took the artistic helm of the 1st Berlin Biennale in cooperation with Nancy Spector and Hans Ulrich Obrist. For the 2nd Berlin Biennale in 2001, the baton was passed to Saskia Bos, who was in turn followed by Ute Meta Bauer for the 2004 exhibition. The 4th Berlin Biennale in 2006 was curated by Maurizio Cattelan, Massimiliano Gioni and Ali Subotnick. Adam Szymczyk was chosen for the 5th Berlin Biennale in 2008 who then appointed Elena Filipovic as co-curator. This year’s 6th Berlin Biennale is curated by Kathrin Rhomberg.

The Living Currency (La monnaie vivante)
The evolving and itinerant exhibition project La monnaie vivante, characterized by an unstable format and an open content, strives to establish a dialogue between the manifold current and historic examinations of the body in the fine arts as well as with notions of the body within the domains of dance, music, and theater. Conceived in 2006 in a Paris dance studio, the exhibition was presented in 2007 on the stage of STUK kunstencentrum in Leuven/Belgium as well as in 2008 in London, at the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall. In early 2010, a new version was created in cooperation with the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw for the local Teatr Dramatyczny, a classic proscenium stage. For the 6th Berlin Biennale, a further variation of La monnaie vivante will be performed at Hebbel am Ufer (HAU), a theater that offers a comparable stage setup.

La monnaie vivante is based on a practice of exhibition making that postulates that memory is not an archive. The project’s goal is to demonstrate this through performance as well as through both older and more recent works by visual artists that explore the relationship between the body and a reality shaped by economic systems. These are works that cannot be reduced to material objects or to the documentation of an action. Instead, they are brought into the present through their bodily presence in time and space. The artists, who refuse a linear view of history, react to the “impure” and unfinished character of the present by exploring objects, protocols, sceneries, scores, or regulations that recur in our daily routine. Thus the artists bring the viewers into the paradoxical situation of a social “inter-passivity,” which influences our present. The exhibition’s concept investigates the works’ active dimension—an approach that results in overcoming museum constraints that “neutralize” access to the artworks in order to guarantee their historical record. In addition, this is also a way to circumvent market criteria. The latter attempts to prevent such artistic strategies in favor of products that do conform to the market. The situation that the exhibition project creates is opposed to a normative reality that claims to be the only valid model. By multiplying the reservoir of parameters—conveyed through the objects, protocols, sceneries, and scores—the project points beyond the deconstruction of reality and instead pleads for a construction of reality.

La monnaie vivante unsettles the division between audience and stage in the theater. The mode of appearance of the works dissolves the codes of theater through a live experience. The staging becomes a collaborative work in real time between the curator, the artists, and the participants, one that is determined by the rhythm with which the audience moves through the space. The exhibition takes place in the “here and now,” divorced from the chronological relationship with the works and in distinguishing the successive stages of production, from the rehearsal to the live performance. The events either follow one another or take place simultaneously; their visibility and their reading depend on the intensity of the relations between the participants. The visitors become actors in a process, and they decide its duration—an hour, an entire day, or perhaps returning the next day.

Featuring performances and other works by Marie Cool Fabio Balducci, George Brecht, Robert Breer, Pier Paolo Calzolari, André du Colombier, Ceal Floyer, Simone Forti, Prinz Gholam, Jens Haaning, Sanja Ivekovi!, Tadeusz Kantor, Ji"í Kovanda, Teresa Margolles, Roman Ondák, Christodoulos Panayiotou, Gianni Pettena, Pratchaya Phinthong, Santiago Sierra, Annie Vigier & Franck Apertet (les gens d’Uterpan), Franz Erhard Walther, Franz West, Artur #mijewski et al.; as well as scores by Cornelius Cardew and Christian Wolff, performed by Jean-Jacques Palix.

The Berlin Biennale | Contemporary Art | Eberhard Mayntz | Klaus Biesenbach |

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June 10, 2010

6th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art Brings Together Numerous Artistic Positions

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