Marijana Kolarić, SEE Art Gates: States of Reality

Septembar 2016.

SEE Art Gates: States of Reality

Pancevo, Serbia

"The good life is a process not a state of being.
It is a direction not a destination. "
Carl Rogers

The Art Biennial is an international art exhibition of complex nature, which, with its long-standing tradition, represents one of the most significant events in Serbia, in the context of contemporary art trends and practices reviews. This year, the 17th Art Biennial, organized by the Pancevo Cultural Centre, will be entitled SEE Art Gates: States of Reality.

Thanks to the organizational and editorial teams, the previous exhibition, entitled Timelines: Documents 1981-2012, presented and analyzed several decades of accomplished success and importance of the Pancevo Biennial of Art. The documentation, audio-visual material, photographs, archival documents and, in particular, a very rich number of art works as a part of the Biennial’s collection, that have been exhibited, made it possible to analyze and review in the framework of time the event itself in the context of its long lasting existence throughout decades. At the same time, the need for valorisation and redefining of not only the character but also the identity of the Biennial, posed a number of other issues, including the essential one: Does Pancevo Art Biennial, in nowadays economic conditions, have the potential to carry the character of an international, in a global sense, exhibition of art?

In the context of history, as an manifestation that used to represent institutional support and encouragement of production and review of Yugoslav sculpture, with the process of disintegration of Yugoslavia, but at the same time, integration of its former republics into the broader cultural and political space of the European Union, with Serbia itself on the same path, Biennial’s direction has been logically veered off towards the geographical area of Southeast Europe, i.e. countries that are geopolitically closer or are facing the same or similar historical and cultural past.

Provoked by the theories of Boris Groys, Boris Buden and other current theorists who put special focus on understanding political and social aspects of changes or development of the former socialist regime countries after the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall, and particularly on the position of art and culture in these countries which move onwards from the state patronage system into the system of the Western concept, based on the open market, as well as phenomena that accompany the aforementioned transition, such as weakening of institutional and economic power, and an especially frequent emigration of artists to countries of more developed culture, so as to get acknowledged and achieve success on the ultracompetitive European art scene or art market.

Taking this into consideration, we have directed this year's Biennale thematic framework in regards to the question of artists’ position in the Balkans and Southeast Europe, as well as contemporary art and cultural production. This year, the Biennial is set as an OPEN GATE, a passage for artists from the mentioned part of Europe, but also as a platform for current topics of our reality.

The accentuation of geographical determinants of South and East, already in the name of this year's Biennial, which always carry political preference, we want to create a kind of rhetorical speculation which would be the basis for broader critical thinking which would allow us to question the etymology and meaning of the given terms in the European cultural and political context nowadays. Starting from Arjun Appadurai’s assumption that “histories produce geographies and not vice versa” , we have planned that this year's Biennial catalogue contains articles that would represent an overture to a wider debate or discussion that we would organize during the Biennial. For instance, Nikola Dedic’s text "Art in Peripheral Capitalism" elaborates the position of contemporary art and culture and its production, and draws parallels between the period of the former Yugoslavia and the present time. Interviews with Tanja Ostojic, an artist of Serbian origin, and Timea Anita Oravecz, a Hungarian-born artist, who both live and work in Berlin, and whose works of art speak in the most direct way about the biopolitics and the position of an artist, a female artist coming from Eastern and Southeast Europe, about the issues of legal / illegal migrations as acts of compulsory territorial movements of mostly the highly educated, striving to look for a job, a better standard and a better quality of life, are parallel to the developments of today's illegal migrants. In their works, they call into question the equality within the political, social and cultural environment of the European Union.

The subtitle of the exhibition, States of Reality, points to the aspiration towards the realisation of being here and now, towards the necessity of holding a stance and perspectives, having different views, approaches, moods, mentalities and the like. Life today means living in microsocieties which are mutually intertwined in various ways, and such a life does not always provide the feeling of living in a perfect world, but it allows us to see it in a more humane and more human way, with more empathy.

An artist, in the role of a philosopher of the new era, from post-modernism to the present day, does not seek to draw conclusions as much as to make us aware or pose a question, to introduce us into the issue and initiate a dialogue. In this regard, the selection of artworks for the 17th Art Biennial focuses on works which question current social topics and places, speculate on reality, life in the globalized world, consumerism, identities, current migration, ethics, as well as many human passions.

The 17th Biennial of Art will present works of Ivan Grubanov, Marius Bercea, Ibro Hasanovic, Tanja Ostojic, Anur Hadziomerspahic, Timea Anita Oraves, Alban Hajdinaj, Tatjana Milosevic, Nevena Prijic, Tanja Jurican Predrag Popara, Nenad Andric and others, while some of members of the Under Realism Art Group Kosta Kulundzic, Vuk Vidor, Frédéric Léglise, Simon Pasieka, Gaël Davrinche, Nazanin Pouyandeh, Stephane Pancreach – will perform a two-hour Speed Painting at the Biennial’s opening.

Bearing in mind that the exhibition space is also always the place of the narrative, during the Biennial, exhibition spaces symbolically represented as gates will be in direct communication with works of art, because the narrative of a work and their poetics will be a guide for finding a suitable space.

With this exhibition we want to show many personal observations of artists, which are basically humane, realistic, honest and sensible. The idea of the exhibition is to make us richer for new knowledge or experience. In this respect, the 17th Art Biennial exhibition spaces, symbolically represented as gates, that is, passages or gateways, call for a contemplative path of visitors and their possible exit from the standard way of thinking about everyday life, offering an entirely new interpretation and experience of the present moment.

The aim of this year's Biennial is to connect us, to make us closer to the realisation of what it means today to be alive and be human.

Marijana Kolarić,
Art Historian,
Selector and Curator of 17th Art Biennial



Born in Pancevo, in 1981. Received her BA in Art History from the Faculty of Philosophy – Belgrade University in 2010. She is the author of several projects and exhibitions, in the practice of which she has mastered a broad range of skills and experience in the field of planning, organizing and implementing projects of local, national as well as international character, among which are: Mihael Milunovic and Iva Kontic’s exhibition in Maximilians Forum in Munich, Germany, May 2015, Banat Pavilion, an exhibition of young artists from Serbian and Romanian parts of Banat, September 2014, Dusan Otasevic’s exhibition Time / Flow / Trace within the 16th Art Biennial in Pancevo, September 2014, Youth Art as a Bridge Between the Mountain and the Plain, February 2012, at the City Gallery of Contemporary Art, Uzice. She is specifically focused on the younger generation artisits who are just stepping on the art scene, so as to contribute to the encouragement and support of young artists in their potential affirmation. In December 2015 she was chosen in an open call for the art selector and curator of the 17th Art Biennial in Pancevo.

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