CATEGORYDiversity/ Inclusion | Participation
DURATION23.06 – 01.07.2018 (some parts are still ongoing)
TARGETBiennale in Bródno was an exercise in seeing and perceiving, focusing attention, and performing critical interpretations using tools developed in the fields of sociology and thing theory, alternative tourism, psychogeography, and critical ethnography. To locate all the points marked on the Biennale map was a difficult and time-consuming task, yet this process led audiences/participants to discover new sites that had not been identified by the artists.
Over the course of ten days, from June 23 to July 1, 2018, the entire neighborhood of Bródno in Warsaw became one large art exhibition. Rather than being presented with a tangible work of art, however, viewers were given a conceptual “model kit” to assemble themselves. The artists Paweł Althamer and Goshka Macuga proposed that the neighborhood be nominated as an exhibition, citing the biennale format. The artists focused on the neighborhood’s defining features: the situations, sites, local initiatives, ceremonies, collections, buildings, and the infrastructure that could be encountered here. The map of the exhibition featured over eighty locations that were selected while touring Bródno in the company of local experts. Locals were also encouraged to submit their own ideas: postcards calling on resident to participate were deposited in mailboxes all across Bródno. While the selected locations did not automatically become works of art, they could certainly be said to comprise an exhibition, meaning a format for the production and distribution of knowledge, and the abstraction, selection, and editing of things and phenomena. The program devised by Althamer and Macuga was part of a longer history of avant-garde artistic experiments that all hinge on the refusal to manufacture new artworks. These include Happsoc I, a 1965 event in which the artists Alex Mlynárčik and Stano Filko, together with the art theorist Zita Kostrová, announced the “annexation” of Bratislava. The Bródno biennale “sites” had been grouped around four paths leading into the neighborhood, thus forming “themed routes” along which to experience the exhibition: the necropolis (south entrance: Bródno Cemetery), strange tools (starting in the middle of the neighborhood: Bródno Park), transportation (west entrance: “Railside” Bródno), and nature (northeast entrance: Bródno Forest). The Biennale was at once a conceptual proposal and an exhibition located in a specific space and time, with an accompanying public programme and workshops. Paweł Althamer and Goshka Macuga made subtle and often imperceptible “editorial changes” in selected sites featured in the Biennale. But their role, for the most part, was like that of theater or film directors; they worked with a larger team that was tasked with preparing and editing the material about Bródno, making it available to the public in the form of an exhibition. It included many of the neighborhood’s found elements: store windows, school playgrounds, holes in the ground, faucets, marketplaces, empty lots, architectural details, and even the interiors of businesses and private apartments. The Biennale in Bródno used the traditional elements found in the contemporary museologist’s toolkit, such as catalogs, labels, guided tours, and maps.
“We believe that art is increasingly becoming a part of everyday life for the park’s neighbors and visitors, who have planted oak trees together, helped revitalize a garden-sculpture, enjoyed picnics by the Tea House, gathered stones during aimless walks, etc. In recent years, we have devoted significant attention in institutions to artistic practices on the “1:1 scale.” (Sebastian Cichocki, the biennale curator)