The recent series of essays from long time collaborator and dear friend Linda Carroli on the -empyre- discussion list offers some very interesting perspectives on the social and cultural implications of the ‘Biennial’, or more broadly, arts and cultural festivals. For the full versions of the essays, see Linda’s blog placeblog.
Here is a copy of my response to her postings:
Thanks for your insightful views considering the role of the biennial.
Your three key themes of ‘Recovery and Regeneration’, ‘From Emergency to Emergence’, and ‘The Commons’ all have serious implications for artistic and cultural development in a world that needs a sustainable integration of issues related to arts, environment and humanity. Cultural tourism may have economic benefits on a local level and on an organisational level but at what cost? I have certainly not felt all that comfortable attending festivals interstate and overseas because of my carbon footprint and I think this is a crucial issue to consider as part of designing the biennial/festival model.
The example of the Prospect Biennial in New Orleans, is inspiring example for cultural regeneration and I think the dialogue between artists and community needs to flow not just through the spectacle of the ‘biennial’ but in a way that can inspire and invigorate culture on a day-to-day level.
Also agree about how the typical hieracrchical strucutre of the curated structure of festivals does not allow for much innovation and ‘risk’, which is why I prefer the ‘unconference’ model used by fo.am and THATcamp as it is more inclusive and representative as well as a great way of brainstorming ideas.
I look forward to following this discussion on -empyre- and seeing more of Linda’s writing.