Shades of Today, Picking up the Pieces Post-Truth, Centrum, Berlin

Exhibition opening: Friday, 30 June, 7pm

with a performance by Kirstin Burckhardt, 8pm

The concept of distorted representations and perceptions of reality may date as far back as Plato’s allegory of the cave. However, in light of Brexit and Trump’s election, the manipulation of information seems to have reached new heights (Oxford Dictionaries dubbed ‘post-truth’ as 2016’s word of the year). Amidst the confusion between true facts and fake news, heightened by 24-hour news cycles, social media and a populist rhetoric, artists play a pivotal role in warning and reminding of reality’s different shades and how they can be exploited by those in power. For Shades of Today: Picking up the Pieces Post-Truth, Centrum have invited ten artists to shed light on this issue through a series of sound, scent, text-based, and video installations, and a suite of events.

During this year’s 48 Hours Neukölln festival, Centrum will present a prelude to the exhibition Shades of Today: Picking up the Pieces Post-Truth through a series of video and audio works and a light box installation: In Game Call (2017) Hana Sackler combines artificial and recorded everyday sounds with diverse video sequences that shift and gradually intensify in rhythm and quantity of audio and visual stimuli, creating an environment overloaded with contradictory information which emulates our media-saturated way of life. Stefano Miraglia’s experimental film Anoche (2017) was produced in the UK in direct response to the Brexit vote, evoking the ancient myth of the Minotaur and the sensation of disorientation and anguish – ‘When Rome is dust the Minotaur will moan, once more in the endless dark of its rank palace’ (Jorge Luis Borges). In Martin Cries (2017) Jonathan Vinel confronts viewers with the emotional impact of loss, alienation, sadness, rage, and violence within a virtual game, questioning the authenticity of our closeness not only to each other but also to ourselves. Kirstin Burckhardt’s sound piece Imagination is a Powerful Tool (2016) is a fictitious ‘Ted Talk’ that draws attention to the fine line between experiencing and imagining and brings perceptions of truth and reality into play. Max Grau’s ‘kinda sorta manifesto’ reclaim your fucked up-ness… maybe (2016) talks about staying in bed a lot, the precarious state of self-employment and ‘how you should have sips of champagne in bed, even when you are alone’. In his confessional audio work Grau reflects on the dissonance many a creative freelancer experiences today, between creating and maintaining a successful virtual persona while being in denial about the absurdity and difficulties faced in real life. 2+2=5 (2016) is the title of a project by Jae Kyung Kim featuring a light box, which shows collages of photos downloaded from Google Street View in which houses have been partially blurred due to Germany’s privacy policy and attempt to legally regulate the US-American technology company’s collection and use of geographic image data.

The group exhibition Shades of Today: Picking up the Pieces Post-Truth will open on the 30th of June with a performance by Kirstin Burckhardt: Grow a Body (2017) centres around a rhythmic, pulsating reading of a text which poses the question: When is your body complete? This question is echoed in the feeling of some people who disidentify so strongly with a ligament that they self-amputate (‘Body Integrity Identity Disorder’). In the performance, this feeling is carefully embedded within the sensation of completely dissociating from your body when in a traumatic situation, raising questions about subjective and alternative truths, the relationship between alienation and violence, and the prevalence of emotion over reason – questions considered to be at the core of our post-truth era. Included in the exhibition will be Archaeology of a Smell (2008), a scent installation by Erkan Öznur which uses ‘Wofasept’, a cleaning liquid produced by a former GDR company which until today was primarily used in the former East. The persistent smell makes the city’s former division apparent today. As an alternative to the iconic Berlin wall Archaeology of a Smell offers a symbol for the reality of the slow, on-going process of reunification. Martin John Callanan’s Wars During My Lifetime (1982-2013) is a newspaper that lists all of the wars fought during the artist’s lifetime (up until 2013). Listed without comment, the newspaper acts as a potent reminder of media bias and sensationalisation. With her sound sculpture Ram-tam-tam! Rat-a-tat-tat! (2014), Emma Waltraud Howes utilises a resonating cast iron pot as a symbol of resistance, both acknowledging historical protests by recalling the ‘Cacerolazo’, a cacophony of banging pots and pans, while humorously evoking the feeling of help- and speechlessness in the face of recent political developments and the impossibility and lack of rational debate. In a similarly ironic gesture Benedikt Partenheimer’s Business As Usual (2016) draws attention to one of the most debated yet controversial topics in politics: pollution and climate change. Printouts of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change line the wall and act as backdrop to a dramatic photograph of an urban landscape concealed by smog. Covering the factual information on climate change, the picture itself fails to serve as photographic evidence with the pollution having rendered the photograph illegible. As part of the exhibition Jae Kyung Kim will show a set of three stereoscopes showing pictures of houses blurred on Google Street View related to her project 2+2=5 (2016) in which the artist explores questions of privacy, transparency, visibility and social control, and also speculates about the effect the blurred images have on our collective imagination, emphasising that it relies on what we think we know and what we imagine we see.

To support and expand on the exhibition in Centrum’s physical space, our Tumblr is a virtual space to further develop and explore notions of post-truth and for six weeks we will post starting points for further research here. The material will be grouped into themes and will show how people, including artists and thinkers, are experiencing the world right now and communicating their most pressing concerns. The themes will include the subjectivity inherent Information Systems, Alternative RealitiesProtest, Sensory Experience, and acute insights into How we Live Now.

After The War & A Dream Turns Sour- BAC

Chris Hong writes:

There are more thoughtful pieces such as Wars During My Lifetime, which is a newspaper by Martin John Callanan listing all wars between 1982-2014 and read aloud by a town crier at various times throughout the day. It is a sobering and thoughtfully simple piece that highlights the number of conflicts and the lack of progress we have made in reducing them.

full review here.

Sound Art Show: Episode 19

BCB Radio, the Sound Art Show on BCB which aims to make sound art more accessible to mainstream audiences in the Bradford district.

Late, Jim Scott
Pulse, Michelle Lewis-King
Ja Ja Ja Ne Ne Ne, Joseph Beuys
Wars During My Lifetime (1982 – 2013), Martin John Callanan

Whitstable Biennale 2014 artists announced

The 7th Whitstable Biennale 31 May to 15 June 2014

Rosa Ainley • The ARKA Group • Bronwen Buckeridge • Martin John Callanan • Collaborative Research Group • Louisa Fairclough • S Mark Gubb • Neil Henderson • Susannah Hewlett • Max Leonard Hitchings • Ben Judd • Fiona James • Una Knox • Hannah Lees • Samuel Levack and Jennifer Lewandowski • Rachel Lichtenstein • Force Majeure • Louisa Martin • Jeremy Millar • Katrina Palmer • Colin Priest • Abigail Reed • Kieren Reed • Rachel Reupke • Margaret Salmon • John Walter • Laura Wilson • Richard Wilson and Zatorski + Zatorski

Wars During My Lifetime, live broadcast

Wars During My Lifetime

whitstable biennale

A new work made for screen, Wars During My Lifetime, will be streamed live online Friday 28 March at 6pm Whitstable time.

Wars During My Lifetime collects together wars that have taken place all over the world during one individual’s lifetime. A fascinating list, the film makes no comment, but quietly brings the list to our attention. Many are wars we hear about on the radio on a daily basis, others are long since finished, or so small or distant they haven’t touched our consciousness.

Wars During My Lifetime is the first commission in a new collection of permanent works that can be viewed anywhere in the world but will have no physical presence and will exist exclusively on Whitstable Biennale’s new website.

Wars During My Lifetime will sit permanently on Whitstable’s Biennale’s new website from late April 2014.

Wars During My Lifetime has been commissioned by Whitstable Biennale.
Thanks to Nicola Harrison, Martin Barbour BBC, and BBC Political Programmes.

After a War, LIFT Festival 2014, Battersea Arts Center

After a War

A century of conflict

The first world war can seem hopelessly remote to the 21st-century mind. And yet, this war ushered in modernity and set the pace for the most murderous century of human history. It ripped through Europe, dissolved empires, changed the nature of warfare and continues to define global relationships.

For After a War, LIFT, Tim Etchells (Artistic Director, Forced Entertainment) and 14–18 NOW WW1 Centenary Art Commissions, have invited 25 artists and companies from across the world to think about the global impact and legacy of the first world war alongside contemporary issues of war and peace. Our programme culminates in this three-day weekender at Battersea Arts Centre — a potent venue which, from 1916 onwards, housed the trials of many of London’s conscientious objectors.

LIFT website

After A War schedule and info (PDF)

Invited by at Motto Berlin, 24 October 2013

Invited by at Motto Berlin, 24 October 2013


Invited by Daniel Laufer. A Box of Editions made by Provinz
Presentation and film screening

Motto Berlin
7.30pm Thursday 24 October 2013 film program starts at 8pm.

Invited by Daniel Laufer” brings together a greater group of artists, who all contribute to a box of editions. The box is of A4-format (roughly 21 x 31 cm, Edition: 100) and contains contributions by 22 international artists. It comprises drawings, collages, copies, booklets, a DVD along with different printing techniques. The publication is conceived as a “magazine in a box”, yet it contains autonomous and representative artworks of the contributing artists.

Artists: Lutz Braun, Hanna Brandes, Martin John Callanan, Sunah Choi, Raphael Danke, Agathe Fleury, Nina Hoffmann, Adrian Hermanides, Hella Gerlach, Simone Gilges, Atalya Laufer, Daniel Laufer, Kalin Lindena, Alexandra Müller, Toony Navok, Martin Neumaier, Thomas Rentmeister, Annette Ruenzler, Roman Schramm, Gerda Scheepers, Hanna Schwarz, Viola Yesiltaç.

The presentation of the box is accompagnied by a film program with films by selected artists.

Catalyst: Contemporary Art and War, Imperial War Museum, October 2013 – February 2014

IWM North
Saturday 12 October 2013 – Sunday 23 February 2014

Wars During My Lifetime

How do artists contribute to our perceptions of war and conflict in an age where our understanding is shaped by the media and the internet?

This autumn, in Manchester, IWM presents its first major exhibition of its national collection of contemporary art produced since the First Gulf War.

IWM holds an unrivalled collection of twentieth and twenty-first century British art, including some of the most significant artists exploring war and conflict today.

Explore the ways in which art can prompt us to think more deeply about current events, their immediate impact and their long-term implications. Hear from the artists themselves and discover what motivates people to create art about conflict.

Featuring many new and recent acquisitions, Catalyst features over 70 works from this national collection on public display together for the first time. Explore photography, film, sculpture, oil paintings, prints and book works ranging from the highly moving to the humorous, philosophical or outraged.

The exhibition includes work by Steve McQueen, kennardphillipps, Langlands & Bell, Miroslaw Balka, Willie Doherty, Martin John Callanan, Paul Seawright, Ori Gersht, Jananne Al Ani and Edmund Clark.

Admission free
More info
Download the catalogue (PDF)

Wars During My Lifetime 1982-2012
Callanan is an artist with an ongoing interest in the individual’s place within wider systems. In this newspaper he lists, in order, all the wars that have taken place during his lifetime. Since making this work he has made additional editions of the work with updated lists including subsequent conflicts. Through this simple gesture he reinstates the place of the individual within the broader sweep of history, using his own lifetime as a unit with which to measure historical events. On reading the list, some of the conflicts are immediately recognisable, while others have largely passed under the Western media’s radar.

As part of the exhibition, a Town Crier proclaimed Wars During My Lifetime in and around the Museum on 13 October 2013, here is a full audio recording:

Wars During My Lifetime, Town Crier

Wars During My Lifetime, Imperial War Museum North, 13 October 2013

Wars During My Lifetime, Town Crier

Wars During My Lifetime, Town Crier

Wars During My Lifetime, Town Crier

Wars During My Lifetime, Town Crier

Artist Martin John Callanan, whose work features in IWM North’s latest exhibition, brings a special performance to the museum – featuring a town crier.

Set against the backdrop of Daniel Libeskind’s award-winning building, representing a globe shattered by conflict, expect to be led around the museum while a town crier reads aloud the thought-provoking listings of wars that have occurred during the artist Martin John Callanan’s lifetime. Callanan’s work, Wars During My Lifetime, is a newspaper listing that features in the new exhibition Catalyst: Contemporary Art and War. It is a fascinating – and rapidly expanding – document that makes no comment but brings the list to our attention. This piece is performed live for the first time since its original commission for Whitstable Biennale in 2012.

IWM North, Wars During My Lifetime

IWM North, The Quays, Trafford Wharf Road, M17 1TZ, 3.15pm, Sunday 13 October, free, suitable for all ages.

Part of the Manchester Weekender

Departure of All, noshowspace, Bethnal Green, London

Departure of All, Martin John Callanan, noshowspace

Departure of All, Martin John Callanan, noshowspace

27 September – 26 October 2013, noshowspace, 13 Gibraltar Walk, Bethnal Green, London

noshowspace is pleased to present Departure of All, Martin John Callanan’s first solo exhibition in London.

Callanan is intrigued by systems present in society that shape our lives yet remain largely unobserved. In a process of research he makes simple and direct requests to international organisations and authorities, including open data sources. Through collating and presenting the often excessive results his work becomes an all inclusive, all embracing reflection of our wider world. In Departure of All Callanan will be showing Wars During My Lifetime, Grounds and a new work titled Departure of All.

Departure of All, Martin John Callanan, noshowspace

Departure of All, Martin John Callanan, noshowspace

Departure of All is a flight departure board displaying flight information for every departure happening from all international airports around the world. The familiar wait in front of the departure board is replaced with an accelerated stream of flight departure times, given poignancy by the fact they are real flights that can be mapped to real places in real time. The world as one airport.

In Grounds, a work of long term research started in 2003, Callanan seeks to negotiate permission to take a single photograph in buildings important to society but where photography is not permitted. His ongoing photographic archive currently contains about 2000 locations from across the world, a selection of which are on show.

Departure of All, Martin John Callanan, noshowspace

Departure of All, Martin John Callanan, noshowspace

Wars During My Lifetime is a newspaper, listing every war fought during the course of the artist’s life. It is an evolving work first published in 2012, a third edition is published on the occasion of this exhibition.

Departure of All, Martin John Callanan, noshowspace

A publication accompanies the exhibition with contributions from Pau Waelder and Domenico Quaranta. Visit the show for your free printed copy or a PDF version of the publication can be downloaded.

noshowspace, Departure of All

Part of Art Licks Weekend, and Art Licks event of the week.

Press Release (PDF)
Download the publication (PDF)
Public talk on 22 October

Wars During My Lifetime, Canterbury

wars during my lifetime

wars during my lifetime

Performances: Saturday 21 September 2013
11:00 Dane John Gardens
12:30 Whitefriars
14:00 24 Burgate

In a time when war is still being waged around the world a Peace Pavement in our Cathedral City of Canterbury strikes a note of hope. It is now twenty years since the European Peace Pavement was installed in Dane John Gardens and it continues to be a contemporary cultural focus for international visitors to Canterbury. To mark this anniversary it has been refurbished and will be re-launched on International Peace Day 21 September with a new artist’s commission by Martin John Callanan and related events.

A performance of Callanan’s Wars During my Lifetime will occur at sites throughout the city on Saturday 21, starting in the Peace Pavement at 11am.

An installation at 24 Burgate from 21st September to 6th October will further extend ‘Wars During my Lifetime’. It will be accompanied by a free newspaper publication, which will be distributed on the day and during the installation at various city sites including: Waterstones, Dane John Gardens Kiosk, the Cathedral Shop, Saffron Cafe, La Trappiste, Cafe St Pierre, Rymans, Browns Coffee House, Tesco, University Creative Arts, University of Kent, Christ Church University, Royal Museum and Art Gallery,

The Peace Pavement is situated at the Bus Station end of Dane John Gardens. This events are free and open to all.

The United Nations International Peace Day is observed around the world on 21st September each year.

The Peace Pavement was a collaborative project led by curator Sandra Drew involving ten European countries whose cities were bombed, like Canterbury, during recent wars. Each artist came to Canterbury and carved a York paving stone donated by Canterbury City Council. It was opened by John Drummond, director of the European Arts Festival on April 13, 1993.

The refurbishment and new artist’s commission has been organised by Sandra Drew and Sandra Pearson and funded by Canterbury City Council, St Mildred’s Area Community Society (SMACS).

Along Some Sympathetic Lines, Or Gallery, Berlin

Along Some Sympathetic Lines

Along Some Sympathetic Lines

Along Some Sympathetic Lines

Along Some Sympathetic Lines

Along Some Sympathetic Lines

23 February – 27 April 2013
Opening 7pm, 22 February 2013

Or Gallery, Oranienstr 37, Berlin 10999, Germany

Or Gallery is pleased to present Along Some Sympathetic Lines, an exhibition of artwork by London-based artist Martin John Callanan, and an archive project by curator Liz Bruchet. The exhibition considers the poetic possibilities of data and its documentation, and the tenuous process of making meaning.

Martin John Callanan is an artist researching an individual’s place within systems. Callanan generates and reworks photographs, letters and electronic data into evidence of exchanges – between the individual, the institution and the networks of power that intertwine them. The exhibition presents four of the artist’s series: The Fundamental Units, the result of amassing millions of pixels of data, to photographs, in microscopic detail far beyond the capacity of the human eye, the lowest monetary unit of each of the 166 active currencies of world, only to enlarge and print them to vast scale; Wars During My Lifetime, an evolving newspaper listing of every war fought during the course of the artist’s life; Grounds, an ongoing photographic archive which charts ‘important places’ in the world where security restrictions limit the image to the carpeted, tiled or concrete floors; and Letters 2004-2006, Callanan’s correspondence with various heads of states and religious leaders which implicate them in conversations that question their very rationale of their authority. These acts of excavating, accumulating and visualising data draw out the sympathetic aspects within documentation and in so doing, mark and disrupt the underlying power dynamics.

A second gallery features an archive project by London-based curator Liz Bruchet. The display of ephemera from the personal archive of the curator’s grandfather, a Canadian insurance salesman and aspiring radio presenter, takes its inspiration from a found audio recording – part monologue, part autobiography, and part radio show – made in 1974. Harnessing the impulses of the collector, archivist and biographer, the curator reasserts her role as custodian and caretaker to nurture narratives and give weight to the subjective remnants of one man’s life.

This exhibition is curated by Liz Bruchet.

The exhibition is possible with the generous support of Or Gallery, the National Physical Laboratory, and UCL European Institute.

With thanks to Galeria Horrach Moya, (Hiper)vincles, Whitechapel Gallery, Book Works, David Karl, and Pau Waelder.

Martin John Callanan: On Systems and Processes (de sistemas y procesos) arte_contemporáneo_internacional a

Article and interview with Pau Waelder in #53

Download the full article as PDF international_contemporary_art announces the publication of its issue #53, with the following contents:

• Project #44: Marina Núñez, Necrosis. (2013), digital image.
Cover and 22 inside pages. As always, an exclusive for the magazine (the originals belong to the Collection).
Introductory text: Susana Cendán: Marina Núñez: “Everything has to do with the monsters”.

• Reflections:
– China’s Long March (4/10) (Zhang Fang).
– Meschac Gaba: Trying to change African society (Abdellah Karroum).
– A quantum reflection of Bakalhau (Cod Fish) (Fernando Galán).

• Media Art:
– Martin John Callanan: On Systems and Processes (Pau Waelder).

• Interview:
– Rafa Macarrón: “the solitude of man before the universe inmensity” (Fernando Galán).

• Film:
– Lipsett: a personal dilemma (Jorge D. González).

• Work_and_Word:
– Marco Ayres (Portugal)
– Simón Vega (El Salvador)
– Luis Gordillo (Spain)
– Pipo Hernández (Spain)
– Natxo Frisuelos (Spain)

• Exhibitions:
– The sublimation of detail: José Ferrero (Madrid) (Terry Berne).
– Bunga: beyond space: Carlos Bunga (Santa Mónica, California, USA) (Béatrice Chassepot).
– The descent into Marina Núñez’s hells (Valladolid, España) (Alfonso León).
– Reinterpreting art’s recent history: Roger Gustafsson (Madrid) (Fernando Galán).
– If you like small things: group show (A Coruña, España) (Nilo Casares).

• Museums
– Critical museology (2/2): On the limits of institutional art criticism (and critical museology as established discourse (Jesús Pedro Lorente)

• What’s going on in… Toronto? (John K. Grande).

• Books:
– “La Movida”, counterculture and normalization (La Movida, au nom du Père, des fils et du Todo Vale) (Juan Albarrán). is a 100 % bilingual magazine (English/Spanish) with contributions from the world over, and aimed at the entire world of genuinely contemporary art. focuses on established art as well as the latest creative iniciatives emerging from every corner of the planet. It informs and reflects on topics of interest, but with a fresh language and crisp design which are comprehensible to both specialists and amateurs. It has over 90 specialized collaborators and correspondents covering each and every geographical and thematic area of the contemporary art world.

Press release

Invited by: Daniel Laufer, 13th February – 20 March 2013

Invited By

Invited by: Daniel Laufer

13. Februar – 20. März
Eröffnung: Mittwoch, 13. Februar, 19 Uhr

February 13 – March 20
Opening reception: Wednesday, February 13, 7 pm

Eine Editionsbox mit 22 Künstlern / a box of Editions by 22 artists
Invited by: ist eine neue Editionsreihe von Provinz, zuerst veröffentlicht im Februar 2013. Invited by: versammelt eine große Zahl an zeitgenössischen Künstlern, die je einen Beitrag zu einer Editionsbox leisten. Die Beiträger werden je von einem kooperierenden Künstler eingeladen, der invited by: jeweils kuratiert.

Die Box, bei dieser Premiere im Format A4 und mit Beiträgen von 23 internationalen Künstlern, enthält Zeichnungen, Collagen, Kopien, Heftchen, Multiples, CDs, DVDs, verschiedene Drucktechniken etc. Die Box funktioniert als “Magazin in der Schachtel”, bietet aber ungeachtet des niedrigen Preises autonome und repräsentative Kunstwerke der teilnehmenden Künstler. Auflage: 100.

Invited by: is a new edition first released in February 2013. Invited by: gathered a large number of contemporary artists who each contribute to a Editionsbox. The contributors are ever invited by a co-artist invited by: each curator.

The box, in this premiere and A4, with contributions from 23 international artists, drawings, collages, prints, booklets, multiple, CDs, DVDs, various printing techniques, etc. The box contains functions as a “magazine in the box”, but despite offers the low price autonomous and representative works of the participating artists. Edition:100

Künstler / Artists: Lutz BRAUN (D), Hanna BRANDES (D), Martin John CALLANAN (UK), Sunah CHOI (KOR/D), Raphael DANKE (D), Agathe FLEURY (F/D), Nina HOFFMANN (YU/D), Adrian HERMANIDES (ZW/D), Hella GERLACH (D), Simone GILGES (D), Atalya LAUFER (IL/D), Daniel LAUFER (D), Kalin LINDENA (D), Alexandra MÜLLER (D), Toony NAVOK (IL), Martin NEUMAIER (D), Thomas RENTMEISTER (D), Annette RUENZLER (D), Roman SCHRAMM (D), Gerda SCHEEPERS (ZA/D), Hanna SCHWARZ (D), Viola YEŞILTAÇ (D/USA)

Invited by ist eine neue Editionsreihe von Provinz, zuerst veröffentlicht im Februar 2013. Invited by versammelt eine große Zahl an zeitgenössischen Künstlern, die je einen Beitrag zu einer Editionsbox leisten. Die Beiträger werden je von einem kooperierenden Künstler eingeladen, der invited by jeweils kuratiert.Die Box, bei dieser Premiere im Format A4 und mit Beiträgen von 22 internationalen Künstlern, enthält Zeichnungen, Collagen, Kopien, Heftchen, Multiples, eine DVD, verschiedene Drucktechniken etc. Die Box funktioniert als “Magazin in der Schachtel”, bietet aber ungeachtet des niedrigen Preises autonome und repräsentative Kunstwerke der teilnehmenden Künstler. Auflage: 100.

Invited by is the first in a new series of editions made by Provinz, first released in February 2013. Invited by brings together a greater group of artists, who all contribute to a box of editions. With every round of invited by, the contributors are selected and invited by a cooperating artist, who curates the actual box. 

The premiere box is of A4-format (roughly 21 x 31 cm) and contains contributions by 22 international artists. It comprises drawings, collages, copies, booklets, a DVD along with different printing techniques. The publication is conceived as a “magazine in a box”, yet it contains autonomous and representative artworks of the contributing artists at a notably low price. Edition: 100.

Whitstable Biennale: Small for a reason

Tea & Times is a café-cum-newsagents on Whitstable’s charming high street. It is also one of four venues where visitors to the Whitstable Biennale can collect Wars During My Lifetime, the free newspaper by Martin John Callanan that lists all the wars that have taken place between 1982 and 2012. Last weekend, a town crier read out the list; this Saturday and Sunday, as the Biennale comes to a close, there will be a host of performances exploring the connections between movement, ritual and ideological manifestations.

There is Emma Hart’s 3D game featuring trapped puppets; Jesse Jones’ re-creation of a 1960s group session with a trained humanist therapist, and for those parents who happen to have a good excuse, there might just be the chance to view Gareth Moore’s film programme commissioned exclusively for children.

Uniquely for a biennale, Whitstable commissions predominantly performance, context and time-based work, and the direction is driven by where each selected artist’s work is at that specific point in time. Sue Jones, the Biennale’s director explains that “although we don’t impose themes on to the festival, we often notice that there are themes which thread their way through the work, relating to current concerns or areas of interest that artists share. Last year it came about that a lot of works were investigating archives.”

The festival is based on a dialogic curatorial relationship between the artists and the work, evidenced in particular by Jeremy Millar’s exhibition of four distinct works by Maya Deren, Shezad Dawood, Derek Jarman and Joachim Koester. The juxtaposition of seminal and contemporary films based on ritual and dance add to the readings of each work, with Dawood’s soundtrack providing an inescapable framework to re-interpret each one.

This welcome curatorial intervention brings to the surface our recent national celebrations, as Jarman’s book and flag burning from Jordan’s Dance (1977) foregrounds Dawood’s tribal rhythms. We are reminded as we watch Deren’s mesmerising Ritual in Transfigured Time that she was about to embark on a real-life journey to become a Vodoun priestess, bringing to the fore the connection between an artist’s work and their life trajectories.

The importance of context

The context of Whitstable, a small seaside town, is also a decisive factor in the programme direction. The scale of the town means that the Biennale is characterised by work that adapts to small venues and inserts itself within the fabric of the place. With venues being available, at times for only a couple of days, the festival has an ever-changing programme, giving it a dynamism that longer running biennales often seek to engineer through symposia and off-site programmes: “We want to remain a small festival so that we can concentrate on working closely with the artists we commission,” explains Jones.

Reflecting the Biennale’s size, there’s an emphasis on nurturing strong relationships with emerging British artists and seeking a depth to the work it commissions and premieres. Kate Phillimore, assistant curator and organiser of the Biennale’s fringe, explains: “We have a big satellite programme, it’s an open platform, and we really try to encourage artists to create a project embedded in Whitstable. We also support artists from the area, for instance in the lead up by organising a group trip to Bristol or by hosting the a-n AIRTIME event.”

The high calibre of the Kent artistic community is demonstrated by the many Whitstable Satellite artists I encounter later that afternoon at the AIRTIME event. I chat to Magz Hall, a founding producer of Resonance FM who is completing a PhD on Radio Art. Her long-term research project sets out a number of fictional hypotheses about the future of FM once it has been abandoned by broadcasters. Babble Station is one of these future unsanctioned stations, using the airwaves for baby monitoring. This Sunday, Hall will be running an all-day drop-in workshop, sampling baby sounds and playing them back via a solar radio.

Sue Jones describes how Whitstable, with its close proximity to London, has always had a strong artists community. The Biennale came out of an artist-led festival that took place in the 1990s and was taken over in 2000 by Canterbury City Council, before Jones took over the reins in 2006. The Biennale is now an independent entity but, says Jones, “we haven’t lost the roots of there being an artists festival in Whitstable.”

Pippa Koszerek, AN

Wars During My Lifetime – Whitstable Biennale 2012

Harbour News, Whitstable

This new work for Whitstable Biennale 2012, Wars During My Lifetime, collects together wars that have taken place all over the world during one individual’s lifetime. A fascinating – and rapidly expanding – document, the newspaper makes no comment, but quietly brings the list to our attention. Many are wars we hear about on the radio on a daily basis, others are long since finished, or so small or distant they haven’t touched our consciousness.

Available from Whitstable Library, Elliotts Coffee Shop, Tea & Times, and Harbour News, throughout the festival: 1st to 16th September 2012

Saturday 8 September, 2pm starting from HQ
for this special one-off event, a local town crier will read out the wars within the newspaper.