WHAT IS IT?The Antarctic Biennale is a biennale in process, a unique sociocultural phenomenon. It aims to create an intercultural and interdisciplinary platform for effective performance and communication in areas with limited resources, as well as social and natural constraints – places at the frontier of humanity. The project is initiated by the artist Alexander Ponomarev. The Antarctic Biennale incorporates artistic, scientific, and philosophical methodologies to address “shared spaces”, such as Antarctica, the Ocean and the Cosmos.
The 1st Antarctic Biennale departs from standard exhibition models, re-imagining a traditional art event format. It is a creative journey that expands the parameters of what art can be today.
WHY ANTARCTICA? It is the last truly free space and a model for the future: according to the Antarctic Treaty (1959) and related international agreements it is intended exclusively for creative activities and scientific research in the interests of all of humanity. Antarctica is the continent that can encourage people to think about the future of humanity and culture and give an opportunity to create new ways of approaching and seeing life on our planet.
The Biennale has several phases. The strategic phase: In the months leading up to the expedition a wide range of public events took place in Moscow, New York, Newport, Barcelona, Venice, London, Miami, and Ushuaia. These include Antarctic Biennale Vision Club meetings; public talks; symposia; artistic performances; and an international open-call for emerging artists. The active phase means the systematic expeditions to Antarctica. The first expedition – the 1st Antarctic Biennale, starts in March 2017.
The concept for the Antarctic Biennale was first announced by the Russian artist, sailor, and philosopher Alexander Ponomarev in 2011. He has conducted several expeditions to Antarctica and organized a number of international artistic events on the continent.
The Antarctic Biennale expedition aboard the research vessel “Akademik Ioffe” starts on March 17 2017 and will last for twelve days. It involves a hundred people from all over the world: artists, architects, researchers, visionaries and philosophers, who will explore and create a universal cultural future for Antarctica. The biennale’s onboard program includes artistic and scientific discussions, performances, poetic and philosophical readings, and screenings.
The ship is conceived as a floating studio, conference and exhibition space. In addition, during landings at various Antarctic locations, artists will temporarily install artworks, or engage in performances. Mobility, site-specificity, ecological compatibility, artistic expressiveness and conceptual acuity will condition these interventions. When the expedition is complete, selected works created during the biennale will be exhibited in leading international museums and art centers. In addition, a documentary will be broadcast through media partners.
Mr. Ponomarev calls it ‘a head-over-heels biennale’ and ‘an upside-down biennale’, not only because the artworks will be prepared during the voyage and in severe expedition conditions, but also due to the biennale’s new creative cooperation principles – a biennale in process:
The biennale’s creative core is formed around a mix of global art stars and young up-and-coming names.
The Artistic Advisory Board invites the artists to participate. Along with the Commissioner Alexander Ponomarev, there are six members of the Board: Hans-Ulrich Obrist, Artistic Director at the Serpentine Galleries (Switzerland/UK); Hani Rashid, co-founder of Asymptote Architecture (Canada/USA); Sam Keller, Director of the Fondation Beyeler (Switzerland); Sheikha Hoor Al-Qasimi, Practicing artist, President and Director of the Sharjah Art Foundation (UAE); Nadim Samman, coordinator of the Board, co-director of Import Projects (Germany).
The list of artists officially confirmed by the Artistic Advisory Board for the moment is as follows:
Hani Rashid (USA/Canada), Matthew Ritchie (UK), Tomas Saraceno (Argentina/Germany), Julian Charriere (France/Switzerland), Paul Rosero Contreras (Ecuador), Juliana Cerqueira Leite (Brazil), Zhang Enli (China), Sho Hasegawa (Japan), Gustav Dusing (Germany), Julius von Bismarck (Germany), Lara Favaretto (Italy), Yto Barrada (Marocco). The final list is set to be announced in February 2017.
In addition, the 15 finalists of the Antarctic Biennale Open Call for artists under 35 selected out of over 500 applicants from 59 countries by an international jury comprising the Commissioner of the Antarctic Biennale and members of the Artistic Advisory Board are invited to exhibit their artwork during the 57th Venice Biennale of Art 2017 – Andreas Lutz (Germany), Ariel Spadari (Brazil), Bridget Steed (UK); Jacob Harper (USA), Jasmin Blasco (France), Lou Sheppard (Canada), Louise Oates (UK), Matilde Solbiati (Italy), Meadhbh O’Connor (Ireland), Stefan Laxness (Iceland), Stephanie Roland (Belgium), Sybren Renema (Netherlands), Tom Blake (Australia), Valentine Siboni (France), Winston Chmielinski (USA).
In 2016 the Antarctic Biennale Vision Club was established to constitute an interaction with academics from various fields, with a series of symposia worldwide. This work continues in 2017.