The questionnaire on hegemonic and anti-hegemonic movements and formats in biennials has been answered by Farid Rakun (ruangrupa), Raqs Media Collective, Martin Guinard / Bruno Latour / Eva Lin, Ekaterina Degot, Bonaventure Ndikung, Yung Ma, Eva González-Sancho Bodero, Raluca Voinia, and Răzvan Ion.
Farid Rakun (team member responsible for the artistic direction of the upcoming documenta 15 in 2022 and, also in limited form, the Jakarta Biennale) has created diagrams to record the structure of contemporary art and exhibition-making, whilst at the same time complicating these diagrams to showcase ruangrupa’s unique curatorial approach. Raqs Media Collective outline their curatorial efforts towards the 2020 Yokohama Triennale as an “interplay between auto-didacticism, the luminosity of care and friendship, and toxicity.” A discussion between Bruno Latour, Eva Lin, Martin Guinard formed the starting point of their contribution on the Taipei Biennale 2020, “You and I Don’t Live on the Same Planet.” The discussion tackles questions of planetary climate disaster and sets up to form a new understanding of “geo”-politics, and to “propose a thought experiment through the format of an exhibition.” Defne Ayas and Natasha Ginwala are compelled to rethink, through the 13th Gwangju Biennale named Minds Rising, Spirits Tuning, in what way “civic models and practices of care will emerge in the aftermath of COVID-19.” Ekaterina Degot responds to the questionnaire with a critique of contemporary art discourse based on colonial, gender, and economic conditions and inequalities. Degot’s starting point is the common historical context of steirischer herbst—the yearly festival she directs—and documenta, both originating out of a Cold War political climate. Steirischer herbst follows the trajectory of the "avant-garde," but is at the same time locally rooted in a conservative bourgeois setting. Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung’s contribution is a conversation with Dorothee Richter about his concept for the Sonsbeek Quadriennial 2020—currently postponed. Whilst Sonsbeek’s general history is rather more of an art festival dealing with social questions within public art in public spaces, this year’s iteration under the name Force Times Distance examines the role of labor and its sonic ecologies.
Yung Ma’s contribution explores his conceptions for the curation of the Seoul Mediacity Biennale, suggesting that popular media strategies may be a potential learning field for outreach programmes in the visual arts. Another thread Ma explores is escapism, which has notionally changed in its impact since the COVID-19 emergency. Eva González-Sancho Bodero and Per Gunnar Eeg-Tverbakk, curators of OsloBIENNALEN First Edition 2019–2024, a new biennial that launched in the Norwegian capital in 2019. The co-curators speculate what a lasting structure for Oslo’s art in public space may mean, expanding the duration of the first iteration to five years and attempting to create new exhibitionary encounters and forms in a contested public sphere. Raluca Voinea wishes for a strong engagement of a Biennial with its local context otherwise in her view this “can be like those international conferences which take place in hotel lobbies and include one or two local speakers for courtesy and which only use the city infrastructure like any other branch of the tourism industry.” Răzvan Ion argues how the Bucharest Biennale came into being, and how new technologies have to be scrutinized when developing new formats that can re-envision the future for culture and society.