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Bermuda Biennial 2014 Welcome (English)
Bermuda Biennial 2014: A View from the Edge
Welcome from the BNG
Welcome to the 11th edition of this important contemporary exhibition. We are delighted to once again have the title sponsorship from Bacardi Limited, whose dedicated support affirms our shared value in the development of art in Bermuda.
The Bermuda National Gallery is committed to serving our community and to making the collection and exhibitions purposeful and enriching. This goal in being a dynamic space is to provide inspiration for all who enter. We believe that at the core of our purpose is making connections with diverse interests, and to do this we must be flexible in our thinking and delivery of the art experience.
One of the qualities that make the biennial as an exhibition so intriguing is that it is rooted in experimentation. For the artists, they are encouraged to take risks and be innovative and for the museum, we examine the successes and opportunities for change from one exhibition to the next. The biennial, happening as it describes every two years, is uniquely temporary, which gives the museum, as an institution bound by certain responsibilities, the freedom to engage art and audiences in new ways.
For the 2014 edition the museum has made deliberate steps to make the exhibition function in the discourse of international biennials. For one, this meant an address on branding. In previous years the exhibition has had been named the Biennial Exhibition of Contemporary Bermuda Art. Rebranded as simply the Bermuda Biennial, we flag our remote location on the world map and signal the alert that artistic progress is being made here. Further, as recent members of the International Biennial Association (IBA), we are now located on the IBA website www.biennialfoundation.org
Also new this year is the introduction of a theme, A View from the Edge, which has provided a foundation (or springboard) to the exhibition. The jurors were better able to ‘read’ the submissions and therefore curate a show with a certain vernacular. Many artists commented on the theme as giving some direction, which they found helpful. Others felt that the theme expressed dominant motifs already present in their artwork. Ultimately, we hope to boost the composition of the exhibition with a theme while using it in future years as a means to address contemporary issues.
A further decision was to accept proposals for art projects based on spaces either inside or outside of the museum. This year, the City Hall foyer and grounds provide additional exhibition space, thanks to our partnership with the Corporation of Hamilton. Moving artwork into public spaces is a concept that aligns with the BNG’s recent opening of a satellite location in St. George’s in June 2013. The BNG East, as it is called, will house a portion of the Bermuda Biennial and will have its own exhibition opening prior to the BNG Hamilton location. Achieving multiple locations for the Bermuda Biennial returns to our intention to serve the community and make connections through art in new and meaningful ways. We, including the jurors, applaud the creativity of our artists whose innovative expressions transcend or challenge the traditional museum space.
This year’s jurors, Isolde Brielmaier and Amanda Coulson, brought decades of international experience. Ms. Brielmaier is a New York based curator, writer, and project consultant, as well as Visiting Professor, Tisch School of the Arts at NYU. Previously she was the Chief Curator of exhibitions at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), which includes SCAD Museum of Art and the SCAD galleries in Savannah, Atlanta; Lacoste, France; and Hong Kong. She holds a Ph.D from Columbia University.
Ms. Amanda Coulson is the Executive Director at the National Gallery of Bahamas. Her focus in contemporary art is seen through her practices as a curator, art critic and as a co-founder of the VOLTA art fairs in Basel, Switzerland, and VOLTA NY. Ms. Coulson holds a Masters degree from the Institute of Fine Art, NYU, and started her critical career in various galleries in New York, Paris and London.
As you will read in the Jurors’ Foreword, Brielmaier and Coulson addressed the submissions with critical and sensitive eyes. They were conscious of their rather difficult perspective, quite literally flying in for a few days in order to oversee submissions from unknown artists in a somewhat unfamiliar context:
“[A]s guests in Bermuda, we were conscious of our own placement on the edge, being given a glimpse into a community with which we saw moments of divergence from our usual field of reference, but also many connections to our own roots and experiences….We are so privileged, therefore, to be invited to view the submissions, many of which were extraordinary, original, unique and breathtaking.”
In the panel discussion with the jurors, conducted whilst midway through the selection process, Brielmaier brought to our attention this quote by Okwui Enwezor, Director of the Visual Arts Sector for the 56th edition of the Venice Biennale set to open May 2015:
“The Biennial is an exhibition structure beyond itself, an event that allows for very difficult subject matter. Its function, as defined by planners and curators, is to add intellectual capital, to think about the relationship between the past and the present, and to experiment with truths…”
Following Enwezor’s direction, we believe that the jurors have (thanks to the submissions of our talented artists) shaped a contemporary exhibition that seeks to challenge and inspire, to question and reflect, and to make us look again at ourselves and the world around us. These actions may be the intention of all art, but where it relates to the Bermuda Biennial, the museum sets out to accomplish these actions with purpose. We must be adaptive and have conviction where it relates to the development of contemporary art, otherwise we cease to exist in the present moment.
The Bermuda Biennial remains a living, evolving exhibition thanks to the participating artists. With art we evolve as a culture; with art exhibitions we celebrate this vitality that is critical to the welfare of our society.
Please join us in the discovery of A View from the Edge.
Gary L. Phillips, Chairman
Lisa Howie, Executive Director
Sophie Cressall, Curator