THE BEST THAT EUROPE HAS TO OFFER
– YOUR 2020 GUIDE TO EUROPE’S TOP BIENNALES
The start of a new decade will without any doubt bring new trends to the art world. Europe is home to some of the oldest and most renowned art festivals and biennales in the world, at the same time, mainly due to its vast diversity and abundance of artists, it is a unique environment that promotes the emergence of new events (biennales, since that is the focus of our list). Whether you are looking for inspiration or you are just curious to see what is new in the art scene be sure to add these upcoming exhibitions to your list.
In order of starting date, here’s a list of upcoming European biennales we’re looking forward to in 2020:
16 May – 11 October 2020
The youngest event on our list, on its second edition, is the Riga International Biennial of Contemporary Art (RIBOCA). Founded in 2016, it focuses heavily on the rich traditions and history of Riga and the landscape of the Baltic states as a whole. Cooperation between artists and their local surroundings and communities is a key element of the work displayed here. RIBOCA boasts itself on prioritizing artists, the creative process and the proper display of their work. „And suddenly it al blossoms” is the title of this year’s event, which will be overlooked by the former curator of the Palais de Tokyo, Rebecca Lamarche-Vadel.
23 May – 29 November 2020
Up next, part of the world-famous La Biennale di Venezia, is the 17th edition of the International Architecture Exhibition (Biennale Architettura). In charge of curation will be the architect and scholar Hashim Sarkis also known as the Dean of the School of Architecture and Planning at the Massachusettes Institute of Technology (MIT). This is not Sarkis’ first involvement with this event as he was a member of the jury during the 2016 edition of Biennale Architettura. The main theme and participants are not yet known.
7 June – 1 November 2020
Founded by Dutch art historian Hedwig Fijen around 1990, it was a response to the political, economic and social change following the end of the cold war and the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The festival exhibits artists whose work is a commentary of European integration and other aspects of social change in Europe. The Manifesta headquarters are based in Amsterdam, however, every edition is held in a new European city, which plays along well with the theme of European integrity. Previous editions were held in Ljubljana (2000), Frankfurt (2002) and Zurich (2006), among others. This year for the first time the biennale will be held in France, Marseille to be more precise. It is a fitting city for this event, due to the presence of a multitude of cultural backgrounds.
12 June – 27 September 2020
The Helsinki Biennale curated by Pirkko Siitari and Taru Tappola will take place in the surroundings of Vallisaari Island as well as other smaller venues in the city of Helsinki. Titled The Same Sea, this event’s main theme is interdependence – stating that every action has an impact on something else and at the end that supports the whole. This refers to the ongoing ecological crisis which as a whole concerns everyone but affects different places in different ways. This biennale brings together the work of 35 international artists and artist groups from Finland and around the world. Some names which have already been announced include Paweł Althamer (PL), Tadashi Kawamata (JP/FR) and Laura Könönen (FI).
13 June – 13 September 2020
Rumor is the 11th Berlin biennale has already begun – is the message that greats us on the website of this festival. The 11th Berlin Biennale unfolds as a process through three sequential moments titled exp. 1, exp. 2, and exp. 3, all leading up the main event – the 11th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art (cleverly called the epilogue of these events), which is scheduled to start on June 13th. Taking place right now from November 30 2019, to February 8 2020, is exp. 2, which raises the issue of sexual politics and the care of both the collective and isolated body. All events take place at the iconic ExRotaprint building in the borough of Mitte.
11 July – 25 October
Liverpool, United Kingdom
Ecuadorian-born Manuela Moscoso, known for being the Senior Curator at Tamayo Museo in Mexico City, has been appointed curator of the 2020 Liverpool Biennale, the UK’s largest festival of contemporary visual arts. This year’s edition, titled The Stomach and the Port, will take up and explore notions of the body and the ways of connecting with the world, putting emphasis on non-western ways of thinking and portraying the individual as a self-sufficient entity. This event will host the works of 50 international artists over 15 weeks in different parts of this maritime city.
Autumn 2020 (exact date to be announced)
What started as the International Biennial of Photography and Visual Arts of Liège was transformed into the Biennale de l’Image Possible in 2016, expanding to more than just photography (Biennial of the Possible Image and BIP for short). This biennale no longer takes into consideration trends and movements only in photography, but instead, patterns of contemporary image that can be seen in political, economic, sociological and anthropological fields. The main theme of BIP 2020 will be the impact of art on real life. There is an ongoing open call for curators which can be found in the link below.
September – November 2020
The 58th edition of the Serbian October Salon will be titled The Marvellous Cacophony. The goal of the exhibition is to highlight the richness of the world by displaying Serbian and Belgrade art in an international context. Despite strong western influence in the world, Serbian artists draw inspiration from many different sources, which leads to the creation of heterogeneous works. Displaying such varied artworks in a common space is meant to show the possibility of the coexistence of multiple identities. Curated by Gunnar B. and Danielle Kvaran the biennale is set to take place in autumn this year in seven different venues throughout the city of Belgrade.
June – October 2021
Last on our list, Momentum, founded in 1998, is one of two international festivals of contemporary art held in Norway. It focuses on presenting the work of exceptional Nordic artists at the same time strengthening the position of Nordic artists in the European art scene. Over the years Momentum has documented the evolution of ‘Nordic’ as a term or concept. This will be the first edition with the main venue being Galleri F 15 on the island of Jeløya with additional, smaller venues in the town of Moss. Momentum is divided into three parts opening in March, June and September. There is an ongoing open call for curators which can be found in the link below.
Written by Nicholas Bartkowiak
Edited by Contemporary Lynx