From 1-16 September 2012 Whitstable (UK) will play host to THE 6th WHITSTABLE BIENNALE 2012, a festival of new and ambitious contemporary art.
Already an important date in the art world calendar Whitstable Biennale has gained an international reputation for presenting work by some of the most important and exciting artists working today. Dedicated to presenting contemporary visual art, film and performance, the festival is a showcase for ambitious and experimental new work.
New commissions include Jesse Jones, Benedict Drew, Cara Tolmie, Emma Hart, Patrick Staff, Ben Judd, Touch, Tessa Lynch, Tom Gidley, Tanya Axford, Angus Braithwaite, Martin John Callanan, Kieren Reed. The festival unfolds over three weekends and will extend into each Saturday night with a programme of talks, performances and a late night outdoor cinema.
Full programme details are available at www.whitstablebiennale.com and a NEW Whitstable Biennale 2012 smartphone App will be available nearer the opening date.
Notable highlights include:
Ben Judd’s Vast as the Dark of Night and as the Light of Day, a new live work set on a series of boats that positions the audience, out at sea, as both participant and observer. Engaging the grey area between ritual and performance, Judd searches for an unreachable and idealised state of community.
A video installation by Jarman prize 2012 nominee Benedict Drew, NOW, THING, is set against the green screen surface of an indoor bowling green, making use of the super-real artificial ‘chroma-key’ green of the bowling surface in his installation.
Emma Hart presents Monument to the Unsaved #2 (M20 Death Drives), a new sculptural video commission, where wing mirror puppets drinking carved wood cocktails are trapped in a fantasy role playing game; amongst them is the character Emma Hart (2nd level visual artist).
Jesse Jones’ The Selfish Act of Community presents a dramatisation of an iconic encounter group therapy session that took place in the US in the late 1960s, aiming to prompt reflection on both the limits of the radical politics of that era and the potential resources it offers to our present moment of similar crisis and rising political dissent.
Three main programmes thread their way through the Biennale weekends.
Programme 1: curated by The Island (Victoria Brooks and Andrew Bonacina)
Stages in the Revolution is presented by curators The Island, and takes its name from Catherine Itzen’s seminal book about the history of political theatre. The programme invites artists and audiences alike to move beyond the walls of the museum and experiment with ideas of community and sharing culture. Works include Patrick Staff’s series of stages constructed around Whitstable’s working harbour area, to function as new sites for performances, workshops and discussion groups, and also as new public spaces made available for impromptu use; Cara Tolmie’s performance in a large boatshed, and social historian and independent scholar Iain Boal’s guided walk through Whitstable, focusing on his research into the commons.
Programme 2: curated by Jeremy Millar
Artist and writer Jeremy Millar has selected an exhibition and talks programme, including a new audio-visual symphony by BJNilsen and Jon Wozencroft (produced in association with the renowned production company and record label Touch), and Speak Near By, a programme of artists’ film and video that explores the intertwining themes of rituals, dream, dance, and possession. The work of American film-maker Maya Deren, whose trance-like films and reflections on dance, anthropology, ritual, and Haitian Voodoo have been substantially influential for a number of subsequent artists, is represented by her classic film Ritual in Transfigured Time (1944-6). Joachim Koester’s 2007 film Tarantism revolves around the old southern Italian belief that the only antidote to the poisonous bite of the wolf spider, or tarantula, is a form of frenzied dancing. For his film New Dream Machine Project (2011), Shezad Dawood created a 3m high version of Brion Gysin’s ‘Dream Machine’, a spinning open drum structure said to lead the viewer into a hypnogogic state. Derek Jarman’s Jordan’s Dance (1977) will also be shown. All four films thus engage the body as a means of transportation to both another mental state and another time and place. A series of talks contextualising the programme include Siobhan Davies in conversation with artist Marcus Coates, and Producer John Wyver.
Programme 3: curated by Emma Leach
Artist, and Whitstable Biennale’s Performance Curator, Emma Leach presents live performances and immersive and performative installations, with many of the works existing at the intersection of performance with other media, such as video, sculpture, writing and music. A strong concern shared by many of these works is the relationship between material things and the magic that makes them function. Works include Tessa Lynch’s Better Times, an exploration of different types of festival tent and the passive or active interaction they invite. Spanning a weekend, Lynch approaches this work as a 48hr festival which celebrates the nocturnal pastime of dreaming. The festival-goers (dreamers) are linked to each other through the geography they share and their collective engagement with the Biennale. The work is in three parts, each offering an experience for a single visitor to step into, including a dream hotline, a T shirt stall and a performance polling station. Angus Braithwaite’s The Sea is in my Veins, is part performance-lecture and part re-enactment, interweaving the artist’s own diving experience with a history of aquatic success and failure.
The Biennale visitor HQ located on the main beach is a newly commissioned building entitled, Social Sculpture, by artist Kieren Reed.
With an extensive programme of performance, films, and events centred around its three weekends, Whitstable Biennale 2012 is an engaging encounter between innovative and experimental artists, diverse and curious audiences, and unique locations. Weekdays also feature new works, including John Smith’sSoft Work (in association with Turner Contemporary, Margate, Stour Valley Arts and South East Dance), and Oliver Beer’s A Philosophy of Education (Piece for two trebles, two grand pianos and an empty concert hall). The festival is accompanied by a lively festival fringe, the Whitstable Satellite.