Magazine article Artforum International

3rd Thessaloniki Biennale

Magazine article Artforum International

3rd Thessaloniki Biennale

Article excerpt

VARIOUS VENUES

The main program of the 'Third Thessaloniki Biennale of Contemporary Art, which is titled "A Rock and a Hard Place," focuses on the Mediterranean and on the Arab world in an attempt to designate Thessaloniki as a "cultural crossroads," in accordance with the development of a new profile for the city by the Hellenic ministry of culture and tourism and local authorities. The biennial has therefore been expanded to cross the city not only in terms of space but also time: The intention of the curators Paolo Colombo, Mahita el Bacha Urieta, and Marina Fokidis is to relate contemporary art to the history of the city by creating a path between contemporary art spaces, local museums, and historical monuments--a narrative interweaving ancient, Byzantine, and Ottoman eras with modernism and contemporary culture. This approach to the past is reflected in the overarching title "Old Intersections--Make it New," which will also be used for the next two Thessaloniki Biennales.

Thus Casa Bianca, an early twentieth-century Italian-Jewish merchant's house, hosts an exhibition that focuses on the relation between literature and art, with an homage to the Italian artist and writer Alberto Savinio and works such as Manfredi Beninati's uncanny installation Houselife, 2011, as well as William Kentridge's animated film Zen() Writing, 2002. Questions of identity are addressed by works in the Ottoman mosque and hospice Alatza Imaret; the current situation of economic crisis, social unrest, and political change in Arab and Mediterranean countries is addressed in several politically oriented works in other venues. For example, the Yeni Djami mosque contains Nikolaj Larsen's Ode to the Perished, 2011, an installation about the tragic journeys of immigrants; the Turkish bathhouse Bey Hamam features a presentation of archives concerning older and recent conflicts and insurrections in the region; and the Contemporary Art Center of Thessaloniki features such works as Rasheed Araeen's proposal for a Union of Mediterranean Countries, 2005, and Francis Als's performance in Jerusalem, The Green Line (Sometimes doing something poetic can become political and sometimes doing something political can become poetic), 2005. …

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