What is the Biënnale Gelderland?
"The aim of the Biënnale Gelderland is to make visible the state of the visual arts, art production and artists of Gelderland. The organization wants to achieve this by focusing on a relevant theme, and by commissioning new work specially made for the exhibition. In addition to the exhibition, there is room for a public program."
Is Biënnale Gelderland an organization?
Biënnale Gelderland (BG) has been alternately organized by Museum het Valkhof Nijmegen and Museum Arnhem for several years. Every other edition one of the partner museums acts as lead partner. As such, the BG is not a legal entity such as a foundation. Centrum Beeldende Kunst Arnhem (CBK) was the initiator and executor of the BG in the 1990s. Little can be found about these editions in online archives, and with the massive cultural cutbacks under Halbe Zijlstra, the CBK disappeared in Arnhem. This edition, Museum Valkhof takes on the role of lead partner, making Nijmegen the main location of the edition 22-23.
How could and can the BG survive?
The previous partner museums, in cooperation with the Province of Gelderland, joined forces for the continued existence of the BG after the CBK was dismantled. Production house Plaatsmaken Arnhem was the producer of the 2012-2019 editions. For the 2022-2023 edition, Museum Valkhof decided to work without a production house and asked the curators to put together their own project team and take responsibility for the production.
Previous editions and selection of curators
For several years now, the curator of the bg has been chosen on the basis of an Open Call. In 2016, Hanne Hagenaars was selected to realize the bg with the project Living Giving. In 2019, artistic director of Plaatsmaken Inge Pollet was selected from 20 submissions as curator for the bg19 and developed it under the title Seelenwanderung with Arnhem as its main location.
Due to the corona pandemic, the 12th edition, originally scheduled to take place in 2021, was postponed. The open call was finally published in November of that year. The museums' call focused on the historical heritage and cultural output of the province of Gelderland (even going back to the Romans), with the theme: Genius Loci. The original open call can be read here.
The Right to the City
Collective P1 responded to the open call with a reversal, in which our main criticism of the call was articulated: "The main theme of the Biennale Gelderland also refers to the Roman past, which seems to lay claim to the legitimacy of the province. Recalling the image of a Roman guardian of the region, in addition to its traceable past, long material history and beautiful landscapes, however, it simultaneously evokes notions of whiteness, territorial conquest and capitalist accumulation."
We redefined the museums' open call in terms of postwar neighborhoods and the legacies of modernism and the power structures they established. The proposal addressing the theme "Right to the City" was unanimously selected.
Is it now BG22 or BG22-23?
Collective P1 started the curatorial assignment and our biennial adventure on March 1, 2022. We wrote a concept and several project plans and developed a program. We assembled a dream team, went fundraising, hit the streets, delved into archives, engaged artists and other creators and venues for our programs that would normally be considered offsites.
Many of the artists with whom we started conversations have similar working methods to ours: they work from a collective practice, make new works (often uninvited) in the public space, have a Do-It-Yourself attitude or work from a different social and/or political urgency. The places where we show our program are also in line with our method and principles.
Due to the relatively short period between receiving the green light (March 2022) and the initial opening (November 17, 2022), we have chosen to organize this edition over consecutive phases. This means that various projects and subprograms will spread out over time and space. Nijmegen, under lead partner Museum Valkhof, is the main location of this edition, which is celebrated by presenting the first three public programs there.