Even though, the 11th Berlin Biennale, curated this year by an intergenerational group of female-identifying South American curators María Berríos, Renata Cervetto, Lisette Lagnado, and Agustín Pérez Rubio, is officially over, the organizers took this widely-anticipated art event online. The exhibition embodies works amplifying the subjects of human vulnerability and togetherness, solidarity, as well as resistance – topics and values that are now more important than ever.
The 11th Berlin Biennale, entitled The Crack Begins Within, presents over 260 works by more than 70 artists and collectives, including numerous new productions, and consists of four parts: The Antichurch, Storefront for the Dissident Bodies, The Inverted Museum, and, finally, The Living Archive, which talks about the other parts and shows what the artworks have in common and how the artists differ around the world. The grand finale was postponed from its initial opening date and had a shorter running time due to the pandemic.
But, ironically and luckily, the idea behind the 11th Biennale was to start the immersion a year before. Its first three 'experiences' comprising exhibitions, lectures, workshops, screenings, and performances launched in September 2019. These warmup presentations—referred to as exp. 1, exp. 2, and exp. 3—anticipated the exhibition's 'epilogue', which opened on 5 September 2020, with the aim to “learn from and build sustainable relationships, not only with participating artists and projects but, just as importantly with the city and people of Berlin.”
The show’s art doesn’t simply dethrone Western religious, colonial and patriarchal institutions: the de-canonization begins already in the exhibition’s title (a line from a poem by Egyptian poet Iman Mersal): ‘The crack begins within.’
In the program is a Nobel Prize-nominated Brazilian artist and architect Flávio de Carvalho with a booklet documenting de Carvalho's famous 1931 performance, Experiência no.2, realizada sobre uma procissão de Corpus Christi (Experience no.2, realized on a Corpus Christi procession), in which the artist walked against a crowd of worshippers in a religious procession.
Image Credits: Young-jun Tak installation view Photo Slike Briel
Image Credits: Pacita Abad installation view Photo Mathias Völzke
Video: 11th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art: “The Crack Begins Within: The Antichurch”
The rest of the exhibition is organized around works by artists from the so-called Global South, where bright colors, sharp contours, and depictive techniques defying modern and conceptual aesthetics punctuate the show.