Dojima River Biennale 2015
Take Me To The River – currents of the contemporary
25 July-30 August 2015
Dojima River Forum
Artistic Director: Tom Trevor
Associate Curator: Santo Oshima
Artists: Aki Sasamoto, Angus Fairhurst, Hito Steyerl, Melanie Gilligan, Melanie Jackson, Michael Stevenson, Peter Fend, Ryoji Ikeda, Shimabuku, Shitamichi Motoyuki, Simon Fujiwara, Superflex, The Play, Vermeir & Heiremans, Yuken Teruya
The opening sentence of Hōjōki, written in 1212 by Kamo no Chōmei, is celebrated in Japanese literature as an expression of mujō (the transience of things): “The current of the flowing river does not cease, and yet the water is not the same water as before.” In the Western tradition, a strikingly similar saying is ascribed to Heraclitus, circa 500 BC: “You cannot step into the same river twice,” along with the famous declaration: “Everything flows, nothing stands still.” More recently, Manuel Castells defined a new “space of flows” in his book, The Rise of the Network Society (1996), arising from the rapid technological developments of the Information Age. Essentially this emerging global condition of flux shifts the emphasis of social relations to people’s place in time rather than in space, defined by dynamic movement rather than by static location. As a result, Castells says: “Our societies are increasingly structured around the bipolar opposition of the Net and the Self.”
Take Me To The River is a project about change and exchange in the contemporary space of flows. Exploring the notion of “the current” within contemporary art, and the confluence of multiple temporalities within globalised culture today, it employs the metaphor of the river to examine the experience of being immersed in a world marked by an unprecedented diversity and depth of difference, by the coexistence of incommensurable viewpoints, and by the absence of an all-encompassing narrative (including those of modernity or post-modernity) that will enlist the participation of all. Within this convergence of different worlds that makes up the historical present, many different “currents” compete for ascendency, but with no clear vision of the future. At the same time, traditional notions of the self, as grounded in a communal sense of place, are being washed away, replaced by a “network culture” of emergent meanings and practices. The question arises, how will the singularity of the artist function and change in relation to these new conditions? What happens when the subjective self is set adrift in the “space of flows”-when you “take me to the river”?
The 4th Dojima River Biennale, Take Me To The River, curated by Tom Trevor, follows on from previous editions, Reflection: The World Through Art curated by Fumio Nanjo in 2009, Ecosophia (ecology + philosophy): Art and Architecture curated by Takayo Iida in 2011, and Little Water curated by Rudy Tseng in 2013. Tom Trevor is a curator and writer based in England. He is currently Guest Curator at the Whitechapel Gallery, London, and developing a new biennial for Aarhus 2017, European Capital of Culture, with ARoS Kunstmuseum. Recent projects include John Akomfrah’s Vertigo Sea for All The World’s Futures at the 56th Venice Biennale, Black Sun at the Devi Art Foundation, Delhi, and Joelle Tuerlinckx’s Wor(l)d(k) in Progress?at Arnolfini, Bristol (with Wiels, Brussels, and Haus der Kunst, Munich). He was previously Director of Arnolfini (2005-13) and Spacex (1999-2005), UK.
Image: Liquidity Inc. 2014 .Image CC 4.0 Hito Steyerl.Courtesy of the Artist and Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York