The East Europe Biennial Alliance (EEBA) is comprised of the Biennale Matter of Art Prague, Biennale Warszawa, Kyiv Biennial, and OFF-Biennale Budapest. It was established in 2019 to shape new forms of international solidarity, expand socio-political imagination, and develop alternative cultural strategies. By connecting aesthetics and politics in a strategic manner, the Biennial Alliance aims to propose a new narrative of the Eastern European region and redefine the way cultural institutions collaborate.
The Alliance is the first network of its kind, bringing together multiple biennales in order to develop a shared vision and engaging in regional collaboration resulting in cross-border meetings and public events as well as working on a common agenda for the years to come. It attempts to rethink the biennale format as a committed institutional practice working with contemporary art practitioners from around the world. The Alliance’s envisions its activities as being conceived and carried out jointly. The Alliance is organized so as to lay the foundations for a network of both (infra)structural and thematic support with the possibility of expanding its membership in the future by including other biennales and similar initiatives in the region.
The desire to collaborate stems from a common way of thinking with regard to the biennale format—for all of the members it is a tool to intervene critically in the public space, taking a form which is to be re-defined by the practices of the socially engaged institutions that are embedded in and have grown from their respective cultural scenes.
On September 18, 2020, the East Europe Biennial Alliance organized the symposium Culture at the Crossroads: What Collaboration Do We Want in Eastern Europe? Streamed live, the event offered insights into the challenges each of the founding members are facing and outlined possible futures for trans-border collaboration within EEBA and beyond. This symposium took place within the framework of the first edition of the biennale Matter of Art in Prague and was held online due to complications related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. A complete recording of the event is available online.
The creation of this kind of international inter-biennale alliance sets an important institutional precedent as a contraposition in culture to the ideological trends that define, in particular, the political state of affairs in Eastern Europe. Over the last decade, this region has become a battleground for proxy wars and has borne witness to the rise of authoritarian right-wing populism. Consequently, the Alliance mirrors the wider dynamics of the Eastern European region, where state policies are often in conflict with city governments as well as cultural institutions, and where international cooperation on various levels has become key for survival. The hardening of borders, the narrowing of public space, and the vulnerability of the civil sphere all contribute to the political context in which this association of biennales represents the creative power of a self-critical institution employing the biennale as an artistic tool for political emancipation.