Pontevedra Art Biennial,|
Jul 13, 2006 - Sep 03, 2006
29th Pontevedra Art Biennial. Flight from an imagined scenario
by David Barro
Paul Virilio is no doubt right when he warns about a story that could crash against impossibility, against a general accident of the kind that impacts against the barrier of time, slowing the pace and making us retreat. Virilio states that there is no gain without loss; no technological acquisition without a loss in terms of being, of what is life-giving. It is the beginning of prosthesis-man, one made to fit specific interests.
Thus, before starting to write about a biennial, we should reflect upon whether it makes sense, in a world filled with biennials which, to be sure, are to art what the Olympic Games are to sports, to hold yet another one, in this case the Pontevedra Biennial. A few years ago, on referring to the Pontevedra Biennial, I did not hesitate to say yes, although with reservations. It would be impudent for Pontevedra to seek to compete against the budgets of other cities that host events with megalomaniac pretensions, as biennials customarily do. So would it be to justify it as a strategy for attracting tourists, since it is not meant to be a display for the media. So I wondered, what could be the purpose of holding a biennial such as this? First, to give continuity to a tradition - this is the twenty-ninth biennial - but, above all, to provide meaning to a city that, having the only Fine Arts Faculty in Galicia and its surroundings, has turned its back on contemporary art for quite some years. After all, biennials are of little use unless they manage to promote a presence within the city where they are held or of which they are a part. And this is where I understand the interest of a Pontevedra Biennial which has consistently shown good exhibitions, though it has not been able to mold a complicit relationship with its immediate artistic milieu.
In the previous Pontevedra Biennial, which focused on the idea of traveling and was commissioned by Miguel von Hafe Pérez and David G. Torres, an introductory text stated the following: "even without moving, the contemporary artist is a nomad par excellence." Hence the idea of a geographical opening or of a dismantling of borders and the extension of that theme to include an inward journey, that of thought. Its generic title, In the beginning was the journey, and a discourse that consciously moved toward the sides as an alternative to the predominant fascination with the center. Practically all the artists could justify their work through the open-ended nature of the exhibition, which made the subject-matter rather scattered, unlike the current Biennial, which concerns a topic that is also generous in its limits but more moderate and specific in its execution. Briefer than ever, the exhibition works, partly because it does not seek to spectacularize its resources, since it is not in the least pretentious, and -above all- because it draws up a sufficiently broad spectrum of young artists usually not to be found in this type of canonizing events.