The Biennale:
de paris

From February 20th to March 15th in Paris, in France and abroad

The Paris Biennale 2004 [BDP2004] can be defined as the continuation of the Paris Biennale launched by Raymond Cogniat in 1959 and set up by André Malraux as he was Minister of Culture, and which ended in 1985. The target of that exhibition was to present an overview of young creativity worldwide, to create a place of experiences and meetings. The Paris Biennale is an association under the law of 1901. The study of its program has started in June 2000. A supporting committee made of 170 organizations or people including 20th century Art references has been established. The BDP differs from all the other art events in the world, Venice Biennal, Documenta, Lyon Biennale, Münster,.and benefits from a worlwide known cultural heritage. The Paris Biennale is an art event that fosters a dynamic whose aim is to enhance today's art and its neavest forms. Immaterial art works and advanced art forms are works of the mind embedded in the real world, which generate opportunities for thinking and awareness, or else belong to the realm of private, collective and social experience. Free from today's overwhelming aesthetics, immaterial art works and advanced art can be defined as free thinking asserting itself. The BDP aims at giving back to Paris a major role major on the global art scene with the aid of its embeddedness from the first exhibition, in the network of major art events, as a main pole. Its other assets are its working as a large network, with core groups and interconnections, and also its stretching far beyond its host cities and countries. The BDP renews itself entirely, today's reality is its reference. The form of the each artist's participation in the BDP 2004 will depend on the very nature of his project requires. The works presented may be as diverse as a dinner party, a charity meal, a debate, a colloquium, a conference, showing a movie, a display shelf on which have been palced in formation leaflets hinting at the existence of an art work, a place or a participant in the BDP, a rendez-vous, by-products such as a sticker or a postcard, a running race, a chat, a service, a tasting session, an encounter, a concrete nothing ...

- The BDP2004 programmation is available on the website :
- The BDP2004 catalogue is on sale from 20th February (523 pages, black & white, price : 100 ?).


In the last fifteen years, the number of contemporary art biennales has grown significantly: around ten in 1990, more than forty today. And they seem to be spread though out the world, from Sharjah to Fortaleza and Valence or Istanbul and Sydney, from Puerto Rico or Lyon to Peking, to Cairo, New York, or Havana, from Shanghai to Senegal, all the way to Prague, Cetinié or Cuenca (and many other places). This "biennalisation" of the art world in not a bad thing. It allows observers, tourists, or the curious to get an idea of the living creation in visual arts. It explains the present dynamism of the latter, plus the difficulty of holding this dynamism within the borders of the western world, henceforth overflowing.

If there is one criticism often made of official biennales, it is their standardizing function. Even artists, even curators, even themes, frequently give the impression of subjecting themselves to the same conceptual and ideological machinery. If it is a welcome thing to periodically validate living creation, to bring attention to it, it is not such a good thing to forward creation towards the imperatives of the market, trends, and criticisms in vogue. Let's not be caricature-like: always wait and see, once the screen of normality is broken. However, the cultural industry has its own way of working; it manages a constructed universe, looks more willingly to already located actors to operate its selections, in short, it puts itself on show, not necessarily against art, but with it, and often adding to it.

The biennale de Paris 2004 has very little to do with the corpus sacré of official biennales. A biennale that is breaking away? Without a doubt. First of all, in that it has nothing official about it, but was conceived by an artist, Alexandre Gurita. Secondly, so as not to stagnate in the place of its establishment, Paris, a large part of the exhibition has been located in other places, in California, in Beirut...(nothing abnormal about that in this age of networks; globalization obliges it). What's more, in assuming its great poverty in locations, in means, and in organization: the price to pay for non-institutionalization, whose effect is to keep the doors of potential locations closed, and because of the lack of financial help, the project's budget must be constrained to austerity (when the biennale is, as one can see, very low cost anyway). Finally, due to an inability to get the press interested (the budget for communication is derisory), this biennale will, in all likelihood, remain a phantom manifestation. "What is not seen, doesn't exist" said Warhol. What is not glossed, does not exist much more.

What is most interesting in Alexandre Gurita's project is the high probability of its failure, of it being a total fiasco. A planned, scheduled probability that is more than virtual. Meditate on that if you like. When the cultural industry demands high attendance rates, symbolic returns, even profitability, the biennale de Paris 2004 demands all the more to make it to its logical end: existence. This position on the edge of failure is not at all masochistic. It is simply attached to a demonstrative willingness. Certainly, we must validate this argument: the system of art is at this point absorbed and surrounded by the institution and there seems to be no way out of its circle. The biennale De Paris 2004 is poor? Without a doubt because it can't seem to be otherwise. Because free initiative hardly interests official institutions, except, as we all know, when it can recuperate it.

In consequence, we advise the spectators of the biennale De Paris 2004 to abandon all hope: no big art openings with official speeches, hors d'oeuvres, and handshakes with ministers; pumped-up shows in major cultural localities; no sumptuous catalogue. In the end there is only art, and still, art that won't, for all the world, take the recyclable form (in the market) of an object. This relational realization that is the biennale de Paris (prospect, network, meet, but freely, without the constraining need to seduce) is unique in its well-defined esthetic content: priority given to active creations of the contextual type, that is to say, that escapes a clearly recognizable status in standardized categories and most of the time proves itself inexhibitable. All that which also escapes seduction.

The biennale de Paris is to be conceived and thought of without being sure that the hypothesis will be proved in the end by a concrete event. An experience.

BP 358
75868 Paris Cedex 18
Tél. : + (33) 1. 42. 94. 98. 45
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