Euskara. Kultura. Mundura.
In 2019, the Etxepare Basque Institute initiated the ZABAL initiative to enhance the global presence of Basque culture and artists. ZABAL aims to foster contemporary Basque creativity by establishing networks that promote and facilitate exchange and long-term collaboration among creators, professionals, cultural stakeholders, and local entities. The Institute also wants to establish ongoing collaborative relationships with major international art exhibitions.
In short, ZABAL aims to generate new possibilities for Basque artists, and to create new ways of connecting with the international art scene. The Institute invites internationally renowned curators, art critics and museum directors to learn about the local artistic context of the Basque Country to encourage direct collaboration with Basque artists.
This project has already generated various collaboration opportunities between Basque creators and international event programmers. For example, in 2022, the Bilbao-based publishing house and independent cultural venue Consonni took in the international exhibition Documenta Fifteen, held in Kassel, Germany, and June Crespo exhibited her work at the 59th Biennale di Venezia (Biennale Arte 2022).
For this project, the Institute receives technical support from Artingenium.
Curators of some of the most important international initiatives have already visited the Basque Country to familiarize themselves with the Basque art scene.
Ruth Estévez, 34. Curator of the Sao Paolo Biennial. Ruth Estévez´s visit took place from 18 to 21 November 2019. She presented the Sao Paolo Biennial project to the public at the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum on November 20th.
Ruangrupa, artistic directors of Documenta 15, Kassel, Germany. Ade Darmawan, Indra Ameng and Ayse Gülec visited the Basque Country from 16 to 22 February 2020. On February 18th, an event took place at the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum to promote the Documenta 15 art project.
Marina Otero, 13. Curator of the Shanghai Biennial. Marina Otero visited the Basque Country from 15 to 17 November 2021. She presented the Shanghai Biennale project to the public on November 16 at the Artium Museum.
June Crespo´s involvement in the Venice Biennale is the result of her participation in the ZABAL, project launched by the Etxepare Basque Institute. Through this initiative, Cecilia Alemani, curator of the 59th Venice Biennale, had the chance to learn about the work of several Basque creators. Consequently, June Crespo received an invitation to participate in the exhibition.
David Teh, curator of the Istanbul Biennial, visited the Basque Country to experience the Basque art scene firsthand. While he was here, he toured museums, art centers, and institutions, and also met with artists and creators engaged in comprehensive and inclusive explorations of regionalism as its relationship with contemporary art. He is also intrigued by the intersections where experimental art and literature meet.
Rahul Gudipudi, curator of Art Jameel, visited the Basque Country to learn first-hand about the local art scene. In addition to visiting museums, creative centers and art institutions, he met with artists engaged in public art projects and artists who integrate nature and communities in their practices. His areas of interest include agriculture, climate crisis, food systems, water rights, land sovereignty, governance, rurality, collective practices and indigenous communities.
The 35th São Paulo Biennial will be held in 2023. Through the ZABAL programme, the curators visited Bilbao, San Sebastian and Vitoria to learn about Basque art scene. Art historian and director of the Reina Sofia Museum Manuel Borja-Villel, independent curator, writer and researcher Diane Lima, and anthropologist, critic and researcher Hélio Menezes toured the capitals of Alava, Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa from August 25th to 29th.
The Artistic Directors of the 24th Biennale of Sydney, Cosmin Costinas and Inti Guerrero, met several Basque creators and visited contemporary art centers in Bilbao, San Sebastian and Vitoria. The two curators focus their research on traditions that reflect paganism and carnival, pre-Christian pagan cultures and the expression of global cultural diversity.
Anton Vidokle, curator of the 14th Shanghai Biennale, met with several Basque creators and visited contemporary art centers in Bilbao, San Sebastian and Vitoria. Anton Vidokle analyzes critical discourses on culture and art theory and the relationship between life on earth and the cosmos that nourishes and conditions society.
‘False flag’ by Iratxe Jaio and Klaas van Gorkum on show at the Biennale of Sydney
The curators selected the work after visiting the Basque art panorama as part of the ZABAL programme.
Shanghai Biennale presents works by Itziar Barrio and Jorge Oteiza as part of the Etxepare Basque Institute´s ZABAL programme
Basque art will be present in the Chinese city from November 2023 to March 2024.
The artwork “Portrait of Catalina de Erauso, the Lieutenant Nun” on display at the São Paulo Biennial
As a result of the ZABAL programme promoted by the Etxepare Basque Institute, the work can be seen until 10 December at the Brazilian biennial.