14th Shanghai Biennale curator visits Euskadi to explore the Basque artistic landscape

Euskara. Kultura. Mundura.


Anton Vidokle, curator of the 14th Shanghai Biennale, is currently in the Basque Country as part of the ZABAL programme. From 2 to 5 July, he will have the opportunity to learn about Basque projects, stakeholders, artistic models and practices. Vidokle critically examines movements and trends, offering a discourse on culture and art theory while concentrating his research and practice on Russian Cosmism. From November 2023 to March 2024, the 14th Shanghai Biennale presents ´Cosmos Cinema´, offering visitors a unique opportunity to contemplate the intricacies of the universe and reflect on our role within it. Vidokle´s curatorial vision goes beyond the science fiction conception of narratives around transboundary space and space travel. The Shanghai Biennale is not only China´s first international biennial of contemporary art but also the country´s most established and influential biennial and one of the most important art events in Asia.

In addition to being a researcher, artist, and curator, Anton Vidokle is the founder of the prestigious E-flux. The platform features debates, reflections, exhibitions, curatorial concepts and current artistic ideas on contemporary art. During this visit, the Etxepare Basque Institute initiated an exploration of potential collaborations with E-flux, a platform that converges various threads of critical discourse (art, architecture, film and theory) and links many of the most important art institutions with audiences around the world.

Vidokle will also visit museums, studios and art venues in Bilbao, San Sebastian and Vitoria, including the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum, Azkuna Zentroa, Atoi, the Guggenheim Museum, the Etxepare Basque Institute, the Basque Film Library, Tabakalera and the Artium Museum to learn about Basque creation. During the tour, he will see the work of Basque artists who share his artistic interests to find.

This visit is one of the outcomes of the ZABAL programme launched by the Etxepare Basque Institute. The aim of the programme is to raise the international profile of contemporary Basque creation, with the ultimate goal of establishing links between the Basque and international artistic communities. The Institute has the technical support of Artingenium, dedicated to the management of local and international contemporary art projects.

Launched in 1996, the Shanghai Biennale is not only the first international biennial of contemporary art in mainland China but also one of the most influential art events in Asia. The Shanghai Biennale participated for the first time in 2021 in the ZABAL programme, in which the curator Marina Otero visited the Basque Country and learned about the Basque artistic landscape.

Themed as ‘Cosmos Cinema’, the 14th Shanghai Biennale will open at the Power Station of Art (PSA) on 9 November 2023, and conclude on 31 March, 2024. The Power Station of Art will bring together artworks, artists, curators, writers, theorists and art lovers from around the world.

The 14th edition of the Biennale aims to explore the cosmos in its complexity by showcasing artists who explore the connection between the microcosm and the macrocosm across various cultures. It focuses on ecological perspectives, reflecting on humanity´s place within the cosmos, while also highlighting artists who examine local cosmologies within the context of decolonial discourse, and those who investigate the interplay between the cosmos and ideology.

The Biennial aims to curate an exhibition that considers the borderless space as a realm of speculation, with the objective of fostering alternative perspectives on both the present and the future. The biennial´s structure will be orchestrated based on a montage principle, conceiving the entire exhibition as an extended film that contemplates the cosmic essence of cinema itself.

About the curator

Anton Vidokle (Moscow, 1965) is an independent researcher, editor, visual artist and curator. He is the founder of the influential publishing platform E-flux (1998), a benchmark publication in current debates on contemporary art. His current artistic research is based on Russian Cosmism, a little-known artistic movement, associated with the years of the Soviet aesthetic utopia, but with roots extending back to 19th century Russian mystical thought. This artistic and ideological current claims immortality as the goal of the development of science and the arts. Vidokle explores Cosmism’s influence on the 20th century and its relevance to the present day.

As part of this project, he created ‘Immortality for All: A Film Trilogy on Russian Cosmism’, which has been exhibited in multiple formats in museums such as the Centre Pompidou, the Tate Modern and the Blaffer Art Museum. Vidokle’s work has been presented in international exhibitions, festivals, and institutions including the 7th Gwangju Biennale (2008), Documenta 13 (2012), the 55th Venice Biennale (2015) and the 12th Shanghai Biennale (2019). He currently lives and works between New York and Berlin.

The programme has already yielded fruitful results in terms of the international exposure of Basque creativity. In June 2022, Consonni, an independent publishing house and cultural hub in Bilbao, participated in the renowned international exhibition, Documenta Fifteen, which debuted in Kassel, Germany. Furthermore, June Crespo showcased her artwork at the 59th Venice Biennale (Biennale Arte 2022).

Etxepare Basque Institute and the programme

The visit of the curator of the 14th Shanghai Biennale is one of the outcomes of the ZABAL programme set up by the Etxepare Basque Institute. Launched in 2019, this project has opened up opportunities for collaboration between Basque creators and different international programmers. Curators of some of the most important international initiatives have visited the Basque Country to learn about the artistic landscape: the São Paulo Biennial (2019 and 2022), Documenta Fifteen (2020), the Shanghai Biennial (2021), the Venice Biennial (2022), the Istanbul Biennial (2022), Art Jameel (2022) and the Biennial of Sydney (2023).

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