Magazine article Artforum International

Gothenburg Biennial: Various Venues

Magazine article Artforum International

Gothenburg Biennial: Various Venues

Article excerpt

This year's Gothenburg Biennial, the third installment, was not as expansive an exhibition as the biennial format might suggest. The curator, Sara Arrhenius, chose to develop close collaborations with a select group of artists and to focus on new productions or co-productions rather than present a mass of works. The exhibition didn't involve much explicit interaction with the city, nor did it have a strongly pronounced theme, and the title, "More Than This!: Negotiating Realities," could be read in more than one way. In her introductory essay, Arrhenius explains that her idea was to "bring together a group of people who with different artistic methods address the documentary paradigm that penetrates our culture." An active awareness of contemporary life was indeed what the artists shared--no fantasy worlds in this show--and that seemed to provide enough interconnectedness.

The predominantly European focus was counterpointed with excursions to non-Western places that are part of the international circuit. Those "other" places were made to speak in visual idioms readable in a mainstream cultural framework. Runa Islam, for instance, who grew up and studied in the UK, returns to her family roots to offer luscious views of the everyday in Bangladesh, but her beautifully installed films lure us into new worlds without yielding much inside information. Fikret Atay, now living in Paris after maturing as an artist in his home town of Batman, in Turkish Kurdistan, presents everyday situations from there that open up another world for us. Interestingly, it is not clear to what extent his videos reflect a manipulation of experience; in today's visual culture, the staged and the authentic travel together. Gerard Byrne's wickedly funny Homme a Femmes, 2004, is a mock-authentic interview with Jean-Paul Sartre, deliciously badly performed and clearly showing the "director's hand. …

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