Sweden's Göteborg Biennial 2019 explores the theme 'Part of the Labyrinth'
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Sweden's Göteborg Biennial 2019 explores the theme 'Part of the Labyrinth'

The Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art, on till November 17, examines the way European modernity organised life based on principles of separation and distance.

by Sukanya Garg Sep 27, 2019

The Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art (GIBCA) is a contemporary art project that takes place in Gothenburg, raising questions about the complexity of our contemporary world through a presentation of a diversity of artistic positions. Working across the inter-related fields of research, artistic creation, and philosophical thought, for each edition, the Biennial invites internationally practicing curators to enter in a dialogue with the city of Gothenburg (Sweden), its citizens, people interested in art, and artists around the globe.

Knud Stampe, Väggteckning, 1970-71 | Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art | STIRworld
Knud Stampe, Väggteckning, 1970-71 Image Credit: Malin Griffiths

For its 10th edition, Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art (re)considers its format and extends beyond its implied temporality to look into the potential of a long-term commitment to site, topicalities and artists. Lisa Rosendahl, appointed to curate the 10th edition in 2019, and the subsequent one in 2021, the latter to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the city of Gothenburg, will engage with the local context and its intersections with global issues in her three-year engagement. Regarding her appointment, Rosendale said, “I am thrilled to be given the opportunity to work with the Gothenburg Biennial over two editions. This allows for deeper thinking, research, and relationship building with both artists and the city. The 2019 edition is a starting point, staking out a number of directions for a process to be developed over the next two years.”

Michelle Dizon, The Archive's Fold, 2018| Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art | STIRworld
Michelle Dizon, The Archive's Fold, 2018 Image Credit: Michelle Dizon

The theme of the 2019 edition is Part of the Labyrinth, which is inspired by Danish poet Inger Christensen’s response to Descartes’ “Cogito, ergo sum” (1637). Christensen had said, “I think, therefore I am a part of the labyrinth” (Letters in April, 1979). The labyrinth, while evoking a feeling of entrapment, metaphorically represents the world which is transformable through processes of co-creation. The Biennial then is an engagement in the entanglements that characterise every aspect of society including its history, present and future. For the purpose of the exhibition, it is a message of hope to highlight the inter-connectedness of the whole and only through capitalising on the latter aspect can our surroundings begin to change.

Cian Dayrit, Frontiers of Struggle 05, 2019 | Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art | STIRworld
Cian Dayrit, Frontiers of Struggle 05, 2019 Image Credit: Gianmarco Bresadola

Subsequently, this edition will explore the way European modernity organised life according to principles of separation and distance. The artworks will be displayed across the city of Gothenburg, each site, its context and history providing a thematic framework, which will be expanded upon by the participating artists. The narratives that emerge from this edition will be further developed over the course of the next two years to explore how the mechanistic worldview formulated in response to the uncertainty characterising Europe in the 1620s might correspond to our own precarious times, and what counter images are needed today.

Oliver Ressler, Everything’s coming together while everything’s falling apart Ende Gelände, 2016, stillbild | Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art | STIRworld
Oliver Ressler, Everything’s coming together while everything’s falling apart Ende Gelände, 2016, stillbild Image Credit: courtesy the artist

Talking about the Biennial, curator Lisa Rosendahl says, “Starting from the invitation to work on two consecutive editions of the biennial and relate them to each other, the curatorial framework for GIBCA 2019–2021 will use inter-connectedness as a central motif and method. Neither separate, nor the same, the two biennial editions are conceived as distinct moments woven through each other. Made as an entanglement in honour of the both/and, the project seeks to address the consequences of a world view founded in presumed inherent separability – between genders, species and continents, as well as between human and nature, individual and collective, and past and future – and how this history can be traced through the specific context of Gothenburg.”

Pia Sandström, Göteborgssviten, 2019  | Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art | STIRworld
Pia Sandström, Göteborgssviten, 2019 Image Credit: Ola Carlsson

The Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art 2019 began on September 7, and will run till November 17, 2019, at Röda Sten Konsthall and collaborative arenas throughout the city of Gothenburg.

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About Author

Sukanya Garg

Sukanya Garg

Garg is an artist and writer with a Masters degree in Public Policy from Duke University, USA. She has been involved in research, planning and execution of gallery exhibitions and external projects in collaboration with curators. Her writing has been published in several art magazines, journals and as part of curatorial notes and catalogues, and her work has been showcased in multiple exhibitions.

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