la Biennale di Venezia
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Let’s talk about us
What have we done?!

Sunday November, 27th – Teatro alle Tese, Arsenale, 2:30 p.m.
Let’s talk about us
Session 3 – What have we done?!
Speakers: Paolo Baratta, Bice Curiger, Francesco Bonami, Daniel Birnbaum, Maria de Corral, Rosa Martinez and Robert Storr
 
Paolo Baratta has been the President of the Biennale di Venezia since 2008, after having served a first term as president between 1998 and 2002.
Bice Curiger has been curator at the Kunsthaus in Zurich since 1993. She is the co-founder and has been the editor-in-chief of “Parkett” since 1984, and since 2004 has been the editorial director of the magazine “Tate etc” published by the Tate Gallery in London. She is the director of the 2011 Art Biennale ILLUMInations.
Francesco Bonami (1955) is the Manilow Senior Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, Artistic Director of the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo (Turin) and of Pitti Immagine Discovery (Florence). He directed the 50th International Art Exhibition in 2003.
Daniel Birnbaum (Sweden, 1963), curator and art critic, is the director of the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Sweden. He co-curated the section entitled Delays and Revolutions of the 50th International Art Exhibition in 2003. He directed the 2009 Art Biennale.
Maria de Corral (Spain, 1940) is an art critic and curator. From 1991 to 1994 she was the director of the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid. In 1988 she was the curator for the Spanish pavilion at the 43rd International Art Exhibition of la Biennale di Venezia. She was co-director of the 51st International Art Exhibition in 2005 and curator of the section entitled Always a little further.
Rosa Martinez (Spain, 1955) is an independent art critic and curator. From 1988 to 1992 she was the artistic director of the Biennale in Barcelona. In 1996 she was the co-curator of Manifesta 1, in Rotterdam; in 1997 she directed the 5th International Biennale of Istanbul and in 1999 the 3.SITE in Santa Fe (USA). In 2003 she was the curator of the Spanish pavilion at the 50th International Art Exhibition of the Biennale di Venezia. She was co-director of the 51st International Art Exhibition in 2005 and curator of the section The Experience of Art.
Robert Storr (USA, 1950), is an American artist and critic. In 1990 he was nominated curator of the Department of Painting and Sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and through 2003 was the curator of many one-man shows, retrospectives, historical exhibitions and new installations for the permanent collection at the MoMA. In 2002 he was named Senior Curator of MoMA. He currently teaches at Yale University and writes for many international magazines including ArtPress and Frieze. He was the director of the 52nd International Art Exhibition in 2007.
 
Paolo Baratta, “What have we done?!”, presentation of Meetings on Art, September 2011
“In addition to exploring the themes raised in the Exhibition, we have decided to put ourselves on the line in the last meeting, scheduled for November 26th - 27th, entitled What have we done?! by summoning all the curators of past editions of the Art Biennale and their illustrious colleagues to discuss what has been done and what might be done in the future. The Biennale has gone through many phases in the past 116 years since its foundation, and the role of its curators has varied accordingly. The new course – which began in 1999 when the newly-nominated President chose Harald Szeemann as curator – was in this sense distinguished by a profound transformation of the Form of the Exhibition, which for the first time ever became an international exhibition, clearly distinct from national participations, autonomous and uninvolved in the selection for the Italian pavilion. The three pillars that still characterize the Art Biennale today were thus being delineated: the curator, the national participations and the public to whom the Meetings on Art are expressly dedicated and which are intended to confirm the role of la Biennale di Venezia as an institution open to knowledge and to the spirit of exploration, worthy of a pilgrimage. At a time when art has long ceased to emphasize the provocation of anti-art, we are seeking to forge a dialogue between the work of the artist and our eyes and our spirit, we want to understand and to feel that extra something that art generously offers and whispers to us, we seek illumination as visitors, as art-lovers, as individuals and as members of the community of man”.
 
Bice Curiger, “ILLUMInations”, text from the catalogue of the Art Biennale 2011, Marsilio Editore
“That the number of countries presenting their art in the pavilions at the 54th International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale in 2011 now totals 89 not only marks a record in this institution’s history but, more significantly, offers grounds for considering the relationship between the large “international exhibition” (occupying more than 10,000sq.m. in the central pavilion of the Giardini and in the Arsenale) and the artistically “expansive” presence in the national pavilions. How much “competence” can curatorial work today lay claim to in the face of the art world’s extended geographical horizon? It suffices to name just a few of the countries showing art in a pavilion of their own in Venice in 2011: Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Chile, Georgia, Congo, Croatia, Cuba, India, Iraq, and Romania. Even if one ignores issues concerning the way artistic work is selected and presented in each of these pavilions and knows nothing of the attendant artistic or politically strategic ambitions, it must be transparently clear that this represents a massive transfer of first-hand information to Venice that could never be matched by the solitary curator of the “international exhibition,” whatever the frenetic intensity of his or her travels”.
 
Daniel Birnbaum, Making Worlds, catalogue of the Art Biennale 2009, Marsilio Editori
“La Biennale is a creative site and not simply a place where one culture is put on display for another in a way that treats each culture as something static, a fixed essence that is inevitably rooted in stereotypes. Instead, beyond the world of spectacle culture, there is still the possibility of truly poetic clashes, that which Glissant calls an éclat, a collision that also creates sparks of novelty. […] To make a large exhibition has, in my experience, little to do with implementing a master plan. Inspiration and ideas come from many places, and the chaos on my table is probably as close as one gets to a master plan for this exhibition. Sometimes the greatest incentives come from places and sources that remain mysterious, from things one doesn’t quite understand”.