Archive: Issue No. 68, April 2003

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Mapping the Fault Lines in Venice

The 50th Venice Biennial, scheduled to take place June 15 to November 2, will comprise 10 exhibition projects. 'Fault Lines: Contemporary Art and Shifting Landscapes' is curated by Gilane Tawardos, in collaboration with the Forum Africa Contemporary Art. The show will bring together contemporary artists from Africa and the African diaspora whose works trace the outlines of fault lines that are shaping contemporary experience locally and globally.

Says Tawardos: "These fault lines have been etched into the physical fabric of our world through the effects of colonialism and postcolonialism, of migration and globalisation. Their reverberations echo through contemporary lived experience and in the work of these 14 artists working across a range of media from painting and sculpture through to architecture, photography and installation. Their works span five decades, four continents and three generations, resisting any notion of an authentic or one-dimensional African experience."

"The nationalist struggles of the first decades of the twentieth century gave rise in the second half of the century to post-colonial independence and a new self-determination in Africa and beyond that articulated itself in a heightened political consciousness but also in new forms of visual and architectural practices. These new practices sought to negotiate the difficult and, as yet, unexplored terrain between tradition and modernity, between formal concerns and political contingencies.

"We have become accustomed to thinking about modernism and modernity in Western terms as a decisive break or rupture with the past and yet it is almost always experienced as an uneven negotiation between past and future that can remain unresolved. This exhibition explores the ambivalent space where tradition and modernity, past histories and future possibilities are mapped out in the work of contemporary artists.

"This exhibition proposes a space where we can engage with these complexities of lived experience through the work of artists who have embraced the ambiguities and inconsistencies of the contemporary world through art works that are by turns witty and serious, monumental and understated," concludes Tawadros.

The 50th Venice Biennial will be directed by Francesco Bonami, currently Manilow Senior Curator at the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art and member of the Advisory Board of the next Carnegie International of 2004. Titled 'Dreams and Conflicts - The Viewer's Dictatorship', the event promises to be "an exhibition focused ... on art as a personal tool of a personal experience and conviviality."

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