End of the World Biennial,|
Mar 30, 2007 - Apr 29, 2007
1st Biennial of the End of the World 2007
by Teresa Riccardi
The first edition of the End of the World Biennial was presented during April of this year in Ushuaia, capital of Argentina’s Tierra del Fuego Province and of the Southern Atlantic Islands. Promoting the southern tourist pole of "end of the world city" with the Ushuaia municipality, a joint initiative was carried out by the Patagonia Arte y Desafío Foundation and the Parlamento Latinoamericano of San Pablo Memorial Foundation. With tight programming and a planning schedule that spanned over a year and a half, these institutions carried out the titanic task of bringing together, in this small city, around 60 artists from various places in the world. They were directed by a Brazilian-Argentinian co-production under the general curatorship of Leonor Amarante (Brazil) and Corinne Sacca Abadi (Argentina) and assisted by adjunct curators Hernández Abascal and Florencia Battit, respectively.
On the whole, and in tune with devices displayed by biennial exhibits these days, the End of the World Biennial in its curatorial presentation appropriated and emphasized its setting as a tourist attraction, taking on the city’s site-specificity with a very wide spectrum of productions. Many of them, presented as installations or signposts within the local urban territory, intervened in the landscape or reworked territorial aspects of the Tierra del Fuego setting. At the same time, but undoubtedly less successfully, they attempted to underscore the environmental problems specific to the particularly tenuous position that certain polar regions presently hold in relation to the planet’s overall environment. While the curatorial presentation adhered to the celebration of the polar region’s international day, the key issues with which this scientific program deals with --such as the polar environmental situation, the sustainability of circumpolar societies or the interconnection between polar and global processes-- were little understood by the public and by some of the artists. The difficulty posed by this gap is of a curatorial nature and stems from the difficulty involved in presenting recent technological innovations within the field of scientific investigation and in knowledge of the polar regions themseves, all of which requires a more complex exercise than a mere signalling. At present, environmental legislation and scientific investigation, at least in Argentina, fail to make their presence felt or, one might say, to be active in our every day community. In other words, they fail in helping to design ways for us to think and move in such a diversified world. Unfortunately, only through voluntary cooperation by civil minorities and by a number of associations concerned with stimulating collective awareness, is it possible to obtain visibility of this matter. In this sense, the curatorial initiative chose to give pre-eminence to this approach and took into consideration small groups of artists concerned with thinking about "natural" aspects from the perspective of art, thereby making such an approach attractive within the local context while getting to know some of Tierra del Fuego’s productions. Nonetheless, we understand that creating a device for dealing with environmental matters and signaling them through artistic productions involved in the topic may trigger another problem: How to demonstrate these concerns without making it an obviously pedagogical, illustrative process, or over-simplifying a scientific problem?
The curatorship attempted to articulate answers from two vantage points. On the one hand, and smartly so, it created an educational program in schools that brought together researchers and educators from various areas, and on the other hand, it designed strategies with several artists for working with the site-specificity of Ushuaia, which conceptualy presented highly varied problematics. Nonetheless, The questions regarding what was to be made visible of that place