Taipei Biennial 2014
Sep 13, 2014 to Jan 4, 2015
The French art scholar, curator, Nicolas Bourriaud, born in 1965, is currently the director of Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris (ENSBA). His arts theory book, Relational Aesthetics, published in 1998 has been translated in twelve different languages around the world. He therefore becomes one of the most influential arts critics in the Western contemporary arts world.
Bourriaud co-founded the Palais de Tokyo, the center of contemporary arts in Paris, with Jérôme Sans, and was co-director from 1999 to 2006. In 2007, He was invited to be the Gulbenkian Curator of Contemporary Art at Tate Britain and curator of “Altermodern” the fourth Tate Triennial (2009). He has been the director of ENSBA since 2012, and organized exhibitions for the Palais des Beaux-arts, which were “The Angel of History” and “CookBook”. He curated for the first and second edition of Moscow Biennale (co-curator in 2005, 2007), and the Lyon Biennale (co-curator, 2005) and the Athens Biennial (2011).
Bourriaud had visited Taipei Biennial in 2000 and 2012, as well as observed the local arts scene constantly. In his recent visit in last December, he released an article to share with local public his idea concept about Taipei Biennial 2014:
The Great Acceleration
Art in the Anthropocene
Human activity has been transforming the planet for millennia. All the ecosystems now bear the mark of human presence, but the scale and speed of change in the last 60 years, called by scientists The Great Acceleration, also led them to name anthropocene this new geological epoch — an era marked by the strong impact of human activities upon the atmospherical and geological evolution of planet earth.
Taipei Biennial 2014 uses this image in order to examine how contemporary art adresses this new contract between human beings, animals, vegetals, machines, products and objects. How does today’s art define and represent our space-time ? The exhibition will highlight the way artists focus on links, chainings, connections and mutations : how they envision planet earth as a huge network, where new states of matter and new forms of relations appear…
To describe capitalism in the 19th century, Karl Marx talked about a “ghost dance” pulling along the humans, their products and their environment. Reification on one side (the transformation of the living into an object) and prosopopeia on the other (a figure of speech that represents an object or a dead person speaking) are the two major patterns of the new « ghost dance » of global economy. But in addition to these two figures, we could add montage, as a connection principle between heterogeneous realities.
The sphere of inter-human relations cannot be conceived anymore without its environmental and technological sides. Since the beginning of the XXIst century, contemporary artists tend to renegotiate their relationships with both technosphere and biosphere, exploring the knots that link the living and the object, the machine and the body, the technological and the social – and experiencing their interdependence.
The uprising of a new « global spirituality » in art appears in the focus made on outsiders and occult forms in the last Venice Biennial, or in the recent calls for an « animist » state of mind in the arts. In the theoretical field, Bruno Latour calls for a « parliament of things », while a recent philosophical movement, « Speculative realism », criticizes anthropocentrism and the notion of « human finitude » so present in western thought : for those philosophers, thinking and being are not correlated, and the human individual does not have any preeminent position in the access to being. Quentin Meillassoux even rejects the necessity of all physical laws of nature, and Graham Harman considers everything as an object, whether physical, fictional, living or inert. Others, like François Jullien, reexamines western philosophy in a critical way, by confronting its basic concepts to chinese thought, in which he identifies new potentialities.
This movement of cross-pollenization, both cultural and techno-scientific, might lead us to a possible global refoundation of aesthetics, and it will be at the heart of Taipei Biennial 2014. The exhibition will adress the cross-overs appearing in the art of the anthropocene ; it will focus on artists for whom objects, products, computers, screens, chemistry, natural elements or living organisms are interconnected with humans, and can be used by them for a critical analysis of contemporary world.
Photo: Nicolas Bourriaud. Courtesy Taipei Biennial