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5th THESSALONIKI BIENNALE OF CONTEMPORARY ART

May – September 2015

5th THESSALONIKI BIENNALE OF CONTEMPORARY ARTGeneral title: “Old Intersections-Make it Νew ΙΙΙ”

Central Exhibition Title: "Between the Pessimism of the Intellect and the Optimism of the Will”

The 5th Thessaloniki Biennale of Contemporary Art is the segment of a three part program which began in 2011 under the general title “Old Intersections-Make it New”.

The 5th Thessaloniki Biennale of Contemporary Art will be held from May until September 2015. Ιt is funded under the Operational Program Macedonia-Thrace 2007-2013, co-financed by the European Union (European Regional Development Fund) and Greece, and is run by the State Museum of Contemporary Art, Thessaloniki.
The director of the Biennale: 5  is Katerina Koskina, President of the Board of the SMCA, art historian & curator. The curator of the central exhibition is Katerina Gregos, whose project bears the title "Between the Pessimism of the Intellect and the Optimism of the Will, inspired by an aphorism by Antonio Gramsci.
The Biennale: 5 will consist, like the previous two Biennials, of a main program including the central exhibition, along with other exhibitions, events, festivals, workshops, symposia etc. In addition, there will also be a Parallel Program, with a selection of projects that enter into dialogue with the main theme of the Biennale.

International Advisory Committee
Marieke Van Hal, director of the Biennial Foundation
Beral Madra, art historian, curator
Jan-Erik Lundström, art historian, co-curator of the 1st Thessaloniki Biennale of Contemporary Art
Gabriela Salgado, art historian, co-curator of the 2nd Thessaloniki Biennale of Contemporary Art
Thierry Raspail, artistic director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Lyon

Organizing Committee
Maria Tsantsanoglou, director of the State Museum of Contemporary Art in Thessaloniki
Syrago Tsiara, director of the Contemporary Art Center of Thessaloniki / SMCA
Elli Chryssidou, vice-Mayor for Culture, City of Thessaloniki
Hercules Papaioannou, art historian, curator at the Thessaloniki Museum of Photography
Xenis Sachinis, president of the AUTh Fine Arts School

Katerina Gregos / CV
Katerina Gregos (born in Athens, Greece) is an art historian, independent curator and writer based in Brussels, Belgium since 2006. Currently she is curator of the Belgian Pavilion for the 2015 Venice Biennale, with the international group exhibition Personne et les Autres, which includes the work of the Belgian artist Vincent Meessen together with international guest artists.

Gregos has curated numerous major international group exhibitions, including most recently:
•    The Politics of Play, for the Goteborg International Biennial of Contemporary Art, Sweden, 2013.
•    Liquid Assets: In the Aftermath of the Transformation of Capital, Steirischer Herbst, Graz, Austria, 2013 (co-curated with Luigi Fassi)
•    Newtopia: The State of Human Rights (Cultuurcentrum, LAMOT Brewery, Museum Hof Van Busleyden, Academy of Fine Arts, De Oude Vleeshal) Mechelen, Belgium, 2012
•    Manifesta 9, the European Biennial of Contemporary Art, Genk, Belgium, 2012 (co‐curated with Cuauhtemoc Medina and Dawn Ades)
•    4. Fotofestival Mannheim Ludwigshafen Heidelberg, The Eye is a Lonely Hunter: Images of Humankind. (Kunsthalle Mannheim and Zephyr Raum fόr Fotografie, Mannheim; Wilhelm Hack Museum and Kunsthalle Ludwigshafen, Ludwigshafen; Kunstverein Heidelberg, and Kunsthalle Heidelberg / Halle 02, Heidelberg, Germany), 2012. (co‐curated with Solvej Ovesen)
•    Speech Matters, for the Danish Pavillion in the 54th Venice Biennale, 2011

In terms of institutional positions Gregos formerly served as founding director and curator of the Deste Foundation’s Centre for Contemporary Art, Athens (1997--‐2002) and Artistic Director of Argos – Centre for Art and Media, Brussels (2006--‐2008). Gregos also serves as artistic director of Art Brussels and as a visiting lecturer at HISK – The Higher Institute of Arts, Gent. She has also participated in numerous panel discussions and symposia internationally including at, among others, Tate Modern, London; Palais de Beaux Arts, Brussels; Ludwig Museum, Cologne; the Venice, Istanbul, Kiev, and Berlin Biennials; the Academies of Fine Arts, Oslo and Copenhagen; the Zurich School of Fine Arts and many other places. She regularly publishes on art and artists in exhibition catalogues, journals and magazines. This year, Katerina Gregos is invited speaker at TEDx Gent.


Central Exhibition: "Between the Pessimism of the Intellect and the Optimism of the Will”
Extract from the curatorial note by Katerina Gregos.

“The title of the 5th Thessaloniki Biennial is inspired by an aphorism invoked by Antonio Gramsci in the The Prison Notebooks (Quaderni del carcere) that he wrote between 1929 and 1935 while he was imprisoned by the Facist regime in Italy at the time. In these voluminous writings which he composed during his eleven years incarceration Gramsci repeatedly cites this phrase; in one of the letters he writes: “The challenge of modernity is to live without illusions and without becoming disillusioned… I’m a Pessimist because οf intelligence, but an optimist because of will.” This duality constitutes a point of departure to talk about the current situation of Crisis - and how to overcome it - that governs much of the Mediterranean, which will once again be the focal point of the next biennial.
As a diverse blend and composite of cultures, religions, ethnicities, languages, traditions and norms, it becomes very difficult to define the Mediterranean area, except in geographic terms. Indeed there is much debate on whether we can even speak of a Mediterranean identity, culture or even region; and equally, it is impossible to treat the countries of the area as an undifferentiated group, nor arrive a singular understanding of what constitutes ‘The Mediterranean’. It is as much a real as an imagined space, whose perception has been determined and coloured by idyllic as well as negative stereotypes and misperceptions. But what many of the 26 countries seem to face today are a series of serious ongoing crises (whether social, economic, or political) as well as several zones of armed conflict. In fact, it would not be an exaggeration to call the Mediterranean a crisis zone of sorts. Greece, Spain, and Italy are all in the throes of economic crises, Turkey is in the midst of a political crisis, while a large part of the Southern shores of the Mediterranean simmer with political and social unrest as democracy is being challenged, and the Eastern shores remain mired either in armed conflict or decades long unresolved political, religious and territorial disputes.
So while the Mediterranean cannot be defined in terms of a common identity, it constitutes a hotbed for some of the more burning issues of the moment including social and economic equality, democracy, civil rights, migration and mobility, and personal autonomy, the overall area treading the fine line between order and disorder. (…) Gramsci himself defined crisis as precisely that situation where “the old is dying and the new cannot be born” and added that, “in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.” (…) It rests with artists, cultural practitioners and grass roots activists to exercise the creative and radical imagination, in order to critically dissect what is happening right now (thus engaging the pessimism of the intellect) as well as to envisage or allude to another way of being (by harnessing the optimism of the will). (…).
In light of the general fatalism that governs many aspects of politics, economics, and public life today, as well as the dominant view that capitalism is ‘inevitable’, Gramsci’s phrase seems as relevant as it was when first written. It is the optimism of the will that when implemented finally sparks change and can sow the seeds for a better future. (…)
The central exhibition of the 5th Thessaloniki Biennial will explore the multiple meanings of this dual phrase as well as that grey zone in between.
Gramsci’s aphorism could also provide an inspirational point of departure for looking beyond crisis, at a time increasingly characterized by apathy and a general defeatist attitude in relation to the intensification of capitalism, growing social and economic inequalities, and the threat of socially oriented programmes and protections, not only in the Mediterranean, but throughout Europe in general. The Biennial will thus shed light on some of the critical issues affecting the Mediterranean region so far, but will also allow room for what Ernst Bloch has called “forward dreaming”, so essential to move beyond the impasses that humanity faces at the moment. In this case, art has a seminal role to play as a form of emancipatory praxis.
The artists in the Biennial will thus engage in critical, oppositional cultural practices, and exercise the freedom of the imagination thus symbolically engaging with Gramsci’s aphorism. (…).
Brussels, May 2014”


The exhibitions and the program of the 5th Thessaloniki Biennale of Contemporary Art the collaborating institutions and the venues will be announced.


The 5th Thessaloniki Biennale of Contemporary Art is the third one of a three part program which started in 2011 and is funded under the Operational Program Macedonia-Thrace 2007-2013, co-financed by the European Union (European Regional Development Fund) and Greece. The organization is run by the State Museum of Contemporary Art, realized with the participation of the “5 Museums’ Movement of Thessaloniki” (Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki., Museum of Byzantine Culture, Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art, State Museum of Contemporary Art, Teloglion Foundation of Arts), supported by the Municipality of Thessaloniki and with the collaboration of many local institutions.



_INFORMATION
HELLENIC MINISTRY OF CULTURE & SPORTS
STATE MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART
21st. Kolotroni str, Stavroupoli, 56430 Thessaloniki
Τ: +30 2310 589141 & 3, F: +30 2310 600123

SMCA Department of Public Relations and Communication
Τ: +30 2310 589152
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