In dependence – Reflections on the Venice Biennale: Discussion with Katerina Gregos and Sarat Maharaj

Photo: Titus Verhe
Photo: Titus Verhe

Frame’s public programme for the Finland’s participation in the Venice Biennale 2017 starts with a discussion between the invited jury members, Curator Katerina Gregos and Professor Sarat Maharaj. The event takes place on Tuesday 5 April at 2 pm at the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma.

Unfortunately curator Katerina Gregos is unable to participate the event tomorrow due to recent flight cancellations from Brussels.


The discussion will be opened by Leevi Haapala, Director of Kiasma, and moderated by Taru Elfving, Curator of the Finnish Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2015. The event is organised by Frame in collaboration with Kiasma.


Venice Biennale is the last remaining grand international art event structured around national representations. Its importance is not, however, waning due to this apparently antiqueted model. Rather every year the number of national pavilions increases laying thus bare myriad interlinked dependencies – historical, economic, political, social – at the foundations of both the international contemporary art world and the nation state.

Whether the artists and curators struggle against, embrace or ignore the national framing, this persistently informs the reception of their work. In the cacophony of the ever-expanding biennale, the exhibitions appear as islands on a global map, where all kinds of national associations offer the easiest available navigational tools. Stereotypes and misconceptions flourish as audiences, including the experts and the press, wander across this miniature globe.

Meanwhile the biennale offers a unique platform for dialogue across vast geographical and cultural distances. Here it is also possible to listen through the noise and to tune into the zeitgeist, to draw out diverse lines of connection in terms of both critical content and artistic methodologies. It is a space of possibility – of counter narratives and shared imaginaries – where nothing singular or local can any longer be understood in complete isolation.

The open call for the Finnish Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2017 received nearly 100 proposals, which responded to the questions concerning independence from a wide range of perspectives and with diverse artistic approaches. These spanned across material, social and mental interdependences of various kinds, including investigations into silenced histories and exclusions within today’s society, neocolonial implications and modes of labour in advanced global capitalism, and ecological urgencies observed as well as embodied. Beyond the highly resonant thematics, the proposals drew together a broad spectrum of ambitious artistic methodologies that attest to the complex critical capacity of contemporary art.

Based on the open call Frame sets out to develop a programme of research and debate for 2017 with a focus on artistic practices as they relate to, invest in and open up lines of enquiry into dependencies. On the occasion of the final jury meeting, Frame launches now this public programme with a discussion between the invited jury members, curator Katerina Gregos and professor Sarat Maharaj.


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