Art Centre NONA is pleased to announce that Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez has been appointed as the curator for Contour Biennale 9, taking place in the city of Mechelen, Belgium.
Contour Biennale presents film, video, installation art, and performance at significant historic and contemporary locations in Mechelen. Each edition questions and expands the notion of moving image within the field of contemporary art and invites a different curator to provide it with a new framework, vision, and dynamic.
Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez is an independent curator, editor and writer. Among the projects and exhibitions she curated are Show me the archive and I will tell you who is in power at Kiosk (2017, with Wim Waelput, Ghent), Let’s Talk about the Weather at the Sursock Museum (2016, with Nora Razian and Ashkan Sepahvand, Beirut), Resilience. Triennial of Contemporary Art in Slovenia (2013, Ljubljana), transmediale.08 at HKW (2008, Berlin). She was co-director of Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers (2010–12) and co-founder of the network Cluster. She is chief editor of L’Internationale Online, and was chief editor of the Manifesta Journal (2012–14).
Regarding her curatorial approach, Petrešin-Bachelez writes:
“Personally, there have been a few transformative events in my life that resonate strongly today through their repetition in our present moment. One such event was the breakdown of Yugoslavia, where I was born. I experienced the resulting civil war and engaged with refugees who passed through my hometown, among which were also members of my father’s family.
“Another such event was learning about the Chernobyl catastrophe as a child and trying to make sense of no longer being allowed to eat salads and mushrooms. This experience was the beginning of my keen interest in ecology as a science and as a way of thinking about and co-inhabiting this planet.
“Professionally, the periods of travel I have experienced as a curator, editor, and writer, have led me to understand the privileged and to a certain degree alienated context within which too many cultural producers operate, many of whom take for granted these vital chances to learn and be enchanted with world.
“Finally, the experience I had as a co-director of Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers in Aubervilliers, a suburb of Paris and one of the culturally richest places in France, transformed me. The work I did there with my colleagues and with the local public helped me to start thinking and working in a situated way. Situated thinking follows Donna Haraway’s groundbreaking work and enabled me to understand empathy as a necessary tool—that nevertheless must be decolonized.
“The anthropologist Ghassan Hage suggested recently, for all of us concerned about climate change, that we should ‘not analyse a missile when it is heading towards us, but act and mobilize’ ourselves immediately and rethink what we are doing and how we do it. Taking Hage’s comment as a starting point, I desire to think of artistic practice as a sustainable, socially responsible practice among citizens, rather than as an accumulation of marketable, product-oriented works.
“There are two questions that I would like to pose: how do we create artistic practices that coexist within our lived realities? How can such practices become part of the increasing call for economic and technological degrowth in the developed countries of the Global North, which are causing the largest amount of global-warming-causing pollution?
“For Contour Biennale 9, I propose a continuum of projects and events that will span across the next few years and address the current critical political and ecological moment through the lens of the particular urban, social, and political conditions of Mechelen. Above all, topics such as ecological debt, environmental racism, decolonizing social relations, hope, care, and solidarity will represent not only the content within which to work, but also the material and technique of that work.”