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15.02.2021

Helsinki Biennial Talks

Helsinki Biennial Talks is a series of talks on the subject of international biennials of contemporary art. The series begins on 3 March with a lecture by Dr. Paul O’Neill, followed by two conversations with biennial curators from across the world on 17 and 31 March. The talks are open to all, and will be livestreamed on Helsinki Biennial’s Youtube channel and Facebook page.

Lecture: The Biennial Impact – everything you wanted to know but were afraid to ask

Wednesday 3 March 2021 from 4.30 to 6.30 pm EET

In this lecture Dr. Paul O’Neill will bridge certain discourses, debates and histories of global art biennials to have emerged in the last twenty years or so. The lecture will look at some of the pros and cons within these discussions; specifically how the proliferation and expansion of biennials has produced a certain scale of exhibition, and configured understandings of the role of the curator as a nomadic global figure of contemporary art’s production and exhibition. The lecture will also explore more recent debates around the local and global dynamics of curatorial, public art and urban practices more generally.

Biennials in Conversation 1: Ireland’s Biennial EVA International, Yokohama Triennale, and Momentum 10 Nordic Biennial of Contemporary Art

Wednesday 17 March 2021 from 4.30 to 6.30 pm EET

This Talk will focus on three divergent approaches to the biennial-perennial exhibition model in Ireland, Japan, and Norway over the last two years. The conversation aims to shed light on the variant roles of directors, curators, and organisers within these recent exhibitions. The panelists are the Director of Ireland’s Biennial EVA International, the invited curators of both the Momentum 10 Nordic Biennial of Contemporary Art, 2018, and the Yokohama Triennale 2020, which was one of the very few large-scale exhibitions realised in the last year. Together they will explore how their respective biennials are challenging the standard perennial exhibition-form.

Three contextual presentations will be followed by moderated discussion and a critical response by an invited Helsinki-based curator. The talk will shed light on how each perennial exhibition offers different scales and ambition to employ and adopt their durational formats and curatorial structures whilst responding to the specifics of their temporal and geographic locatedness, and the local to global dynamics.

Moderator: Dr. Paul O’Neill, curator, writer, educator, Artistic Director of PUBLICS.
Panelists: Matt Packer, Director of EVA International; Raqs Media Collective, Artistic Directors of Yokohama Triennale 2020; Marti Manen, Director of Index, and curator of Momentum 10 Nordic Biennial of Contemporary Art.
Respondent: Taru Elfving, curator, and Artistic Director of CAA Contemporary Art Archipelago.

Biennials in Conversation 2: RIBOCA (Riga), the Goteborg International Biennial of Contemporary Art (GIBCA), and the 10th Berlin Biennale

Wednesday 31 March 2021 from 4.30 to 6.30 pm EET

This Talk will focus on three recent biennial exhibitions in Riga, Goteborg and Berlin, and on their divergent approaches to the biennial-perennial exhibition model. The conversation aims to shed light on the variant roles of directors, curators, and organisers within these recent exhibitions. The panelists are curators Rebecca Lamarche-Vadel, Nav Haq, and Gabi Ngcobo, the invited curators of RIBOCA, 2020, GIBAC 2017, and 10th Berlin Biennale 2018 respectively. Together they will explore how their biennials are challenging the standard perennial exhibition-form and responding to their particular geopolitical contexts.

Three contextual presentations will be followed by moderated discussion and a critical response by an invited Helsinki-based curator. The talk will show how each city-based biennial employs and adopts diverse formats and curatorial positions, and looks to how each of these biennials take on divergent approaches to engaging their respective cities and publics, whilst responding to the specifics of local to global dynamics and their histories.

Moderator: Dr. Paul O’Neill, curator, writer, educator, Artistic Director of PUBLICS.
Panelists: Nav Haq, Associate Director M HKA, and curator of GIBAC 2017; Gabi Ngcobo, curator of the 10th Berlin Biennale; Rebecca Lamarche-Vadel, curator of 2nd RIBOCA Biennial, Riga (2020).
Respondent: João Laia, chief curator, KIASMA, co-curator of the 14th Baltic Triennial.

***

Dr. Paul O’Neill is an Irish curator, artist, writer and educator. Paul is the Artistic Director of PUBLICS, a curatorial agency and event space with a dedicated library, and reading room in Helsinki. Between 2013-17, he was Director of the Graduate Program at the Center for Curatorial Studies (CCS), Bard College, New York. Paul is the author of the critically acclaimed book The Culture of Curating and the Curating of Culture(s), (Cambridge, MASS., The MIT Press, 2012), which has been translated into many languages. His most recent coedited book is Curating After the Global: Roadmaps to the Present is published with the MIT Press, 2019. Paul has authored and edited many books including Curating Subjects (Open Editions and de Appel, 2007), Curating and the Educational Turn (Open Editions, 2010), Curating Research (Open Editions, 2014); Locating the Producers: Durational Approaches to Public Art (Amsterdam, Valiz, 2011), and a series of three curatorial anthologies, The Curatorial Conundrum (2016), How Institutions Think (2017), co-edited with Lucy Steeds and Mick Wilson, and published with The MIT Press, CCS Bard College and Luma Foundation.