Antarctic Biennale Hits An Iceberg As Advisor Defne Ayas Resigns

It’s been only a few days since the open call for artists was made public but the Antarctic Biennale is having some teething problems. Defne Ayas, director of the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam, and an advisor to the event wrote: Given that neither the framing nor the announcement content nor the age limit was signed off by me, as part of a member of the Artist Advisory Board, and as my press quote that offered a critical opening to the initial outset and prospect was nowhere used on the promotional materials but rather superseded by those I personally disagree with in content and direction,without any communication with me in person, I decided to pull out my name.  Much of the disagreement revolves around the age restrictions where artists over 35 have not been included. 

Initiated by Nadim Samman, a curator at TBA-21 in Vienna, and Russian artist Alexander Ponomarev, it will be first major contemporary art showcase on the remote continent.

Concept: Antarctica is the last continent of freedom. Under the 1959 international treaty, it belongs to no state and is intended exclusively for creativity ‘in the interests of the entire mankind’. Antarctica (from the Greek antarktikos, opposite) is pure, hard-of-access and enigmatic like art itself! this white continent is like a white sheet of paper on which artists of different lands and nationalities will try to write new rules of cooperation.

The Biennale is to be held aboard research ships Akademik ioffe and Akademik Sergey Vavilov of the Russian Academy of sciences. These expedition ships are well-suited for sailing southern latitudes and are capable of comfortably accommodating the Biennale team.

The Biennale activities will take place during the voyage from the port of Ushuaia (Argentina) to the Falkland islands, south Georgia and on through the Drake passage when the expedition arrives at the Antarctic continent and goes ashore in the area of the Antarctic peninsula. During these landings, the artists participating in the project, jointly with the support group, will make objects, installations, performances and stage actions. Their constructs are to be portable, designed to withstand weather conditions, to cause no hazard to the environment and to be dismantled by the end of the stopover. Every landing is to be documented in detail with the help of cameras and camcorders. Several laboratories, including photographs, and video, as well as a discussion club will function onboard during the voyage.

The expedition may have from 50 to 100 members. the artists are to account for nearly one-half of the expedition, with the other half to consist of organisers, the technical support group, critics and reporters, as well as guests of honour to be represented by sponsors, museum workers, and collectors. 

Biennale activities are to last from 12 to 15 days. Depending on expedition goals and weather conditions, the ports of calls are subject to change. 

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