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EVERYWHERE BUT NOW

IV Thessaloniki Biennal of Contemporary Art 

curated by Adelina Von Furstenberg - Greece

INTRODUCTION

The Mediterranean Sea is much more than geography. It is, and always has been, a melting pot of peoples, cultures and mentalities, an open door on three continents, Africa, Asia, and Europe. In the west, Gibraltar connects the Mediterranean with the Atlantic Ocean. In the northeast, the Marmara Sea, the Dardanelles, and the Bosporus link it with the Black Sea and Central Asia. The Suez Canal connects the Mediterranean with the Red Sea in the southeast.

Several civilizations have contributed to political, economic, artistic and technological growth around the Mesogeios (Μεσόγειος). Its shores are laboratories of comprehension and perplexity; and of differences between nations, religions, and cultures. Its surroundings continue to be filled with contrasts of all kinds – between wealth and poverty, political stability and insecurity – deepening inequalities within and between communities, and pressures between urban and rural dwellers.

The Mediterranean has seen millions of war dead and continues to be battered by a succession of crises and civil wars.

The Middle East has been torn by almost a fifty years of conflicts that erupted after the World War II and the violence has wounded its natural environment. Internal wars destroyed almost all the forests of cedars that characterized Lebanon for millennia. The war in Syria is decimating the population and spreading material destruction throughout that historic land. Oil spills often pollute the Mediterranean Sea and damage its ecosystems. Every year, fires ravage its coasts destroying olive groves, vineyards and countryside. 

Currently, the Mediterranean region is disoriented with its people struggling against economic upheavals and crises of national identity. 

To the question: can we consider artistic creation as a valuable source of identified resistance and a modern challenge? In other words, which is and will be the role of art in the visible transformation of our contemporary world? What artistic approach could inspire and mobilize people to build a more just society?
The exercise of reason is to create, develop and implement projects. This is what the ancient Greeks called Techne (τέχνη), Art.

For example, we know that contemporary trends are becoming so powerful as to destroy natural balance to the point of endangering life on our planet. Those trends include transformation of the environment, which is adversely influencing the human being and the human race. How can the transformation of the environment have no effect on the human being and the human race outright?
I believe that art, in crying out against violation of the sources that have nurtured it for thousands of years, can raise awareness, more than all the international conferences on Environment and on Climate Change. In fact, if by nature we do not mean only the landscape, trees and animals, but also the body of memories, desires and inspirations that shape human consciousness and create images, then we can say that the depletion and pollution of nature impoverishes also the imagination and pollutes the soul.

 Exhibition view, La prua, oil on canvas 885x225cm, 2007

La prua, exhibition view

La prua,  detail exhibition view

La prua,  detail exhibition view

La prua,  detail 

La prua,  detail 

La prua,  detail 

Exhibition view La prua