The Scottish curator Anne Barlow has announced the 19 participating artists for the fifth Bucharest Biennale. “Tactics for the Here and Now” is due to take place from 25 May to 22 July and include the Croatian artist David Maljkovic, the French/American artist Alexandre Singh, and the American artist Jill Magid. At a press conference in February, Barlow, the executive director of Art in General, New York, said she had looked for artists, “whose agency lies less in overt statements, but rather in investigative, indirect or informal approaches that possess their own kind of power”.
The theme is a legacy of the 2010 biennale in the Romanian capital. “The notion of agency was one that stayed with me from the 2010 edition,” Barlow says. “I wanted to build on the strength of that while thinking about how to engage audiences through a combination of new work created for the 2012 biennial and existing pieces that spoke powerfully, but in different ways—ranging from the tactics of subterfuge, infiltration, and humour, to the use of non-linear narratives and quasi-fictional situations.”
As has been the case in previous years, the biennial will use venues not normally associated with visual art, including, for the first time, Bucharest’s striking Casa Presei Libere (House of the Free Press). A Soviet-style relic, the building acted as the headquarters of the official news media during Romania’s communist era. The Iranian-born artist Abbas Akhavan is creating a work in response to the building for the biennial.
Started by Pavilion, a Bucharest-based magazine and arts centre, the biennale has always been seen as an autonomous event within the Romanian art scene, with funding coming from private rather than public sources. Barlow says among the physical and financial challenge of staging a biennial in Bucharest is that “the artistic environment is in the process of evolution. Producing an ambitious programme with limited resources requires creative thinking at every stage and actually makes the project more relevant and vital.”