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A new cooperation with the East Europe Biennial Alliance

Our partners and friends in Kyiv from the Visual Culture Research Centre / Kyiv Biennial recently launched with the Biennial Matter of Art Prague, Warszawa Biennial, and OFF-Biennial Budapest, the Eastern European Biennial Alliance (EEBA). From next year, we will work together with Studio Rizoma and EEBA to build links between Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean.

As contemporary biennials have become an important vehicle for placing art in new contexts and reaching new audiences, the Alliance is designed to enhance the role of biennials in forming new forms of international solidarity, expanding socio-political imagination and developing alternative cultural solutions. Through the strategic connection between aesthetics and politics, the Biennial Alliance aims to propose a different narrative of the Eastern European region and redefine the way cultural institutions collaborate.

The creation of such an international interbiennial Alliance sets an important institutional precedent as a contrast in culture to the ideological trends that define, in particular, the political situation in Eastern Europe. In the last decade, this region has become a battleground for proxy wars and right-wing authoritarian populism as a general perspective. In the political context supported by growing nationalist tendencies, the tightening of borders, the narrowness of public space and the vulnerability of the civil kingdom, the conglomerate of biennial organisations presents the generative power of a self-critical institution that implements the biennial format as an artistic tool for political emancipation.

Eastern European biennials have emerged as a new phenomenon linked to the biennalisation of contemporary art. At the same time, they differ from the biennials consolidated in the main centres of the art world. They operate in precarious conditions with limited possibilities, often without the support of the city or the state, while explicitly talking about the political situation in which they find themselves. They are basic initiatives conducted by local collectives with curatorial strategies deeply rooted in the current socio-political context. The Biennial Alliance supports curatorial work and mutual exchange through the sharing of experiences related to communication with city and state representatives, the relationship with the public and strategies to reach it through socially critical projects and experience with art projects in the public space.

The Alliance is the first network of its kind to bring together biennials to develop a shared vision and regional collaboration, producing cross-border meetings, public events and working on the common agenda for the coming years. Based on current political constellations, it seeks to rethink the biennial format as a committed institutional practice working with contemporary art professionals from around the world. The Alliance’s activities are jointly designed and implemented by the respective biennial institutions. The Alliance was created to lay the foundations for a network of both (infra)structural and thematic support that can function beyond the individual biennials, while remaining its point of origin, with the possibility of expanding its membership in the future through the inclusion of other biennials in the region and similar cultural initiatives.

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