Let the Art Marathon Begin: Here’s a Comprehensive List of All the Biennials and Triennials in 2018
You thought 2017 was the 'Superkunstjahr'? This year has a major art event opening somewhere around the world every month.
If 2017 was one of the busiest years for the art world in recent memory—a once-in-a-decade affair that saw the dates of the Venice Biennale, documenta, and Skulptur Projekte Münster align—it looks like 2018 is not going to be any less busy. In fact, while most of last year’s major international events took place in Europe, art world denizens will have to travel to all four corners of the world in 2018 to catch up with everything that’s going on: The art year opens and closes in the so-called Global South with the Dhaka Art Summit in February and the Kochi-Muziris Biennale in December, with key exhibitions in Sydney, São Paulo, New York, and the Baltic countries throughout the year.
What’s more, 2018 brings a slew of new biennials, with the inaugural edition of RIBOCA in Riga, Latvia, the first ever Bangkok Biennale, and the launch of Ohio’s new triennial, Front.
Here are the key art events of 2018:
Dhaka Art Summit, February 2–10, 2018
The fourth edition of the biennial summit in Bangladesh will see it expand on previous years, adding extra days and luring big names to the event. Tate director Maria Balshaw joins Diana Campbell Betancourt as a co-curator on the London-based, Indian artist Raqib Shaw’s first major presentation in South Asia, and around 300 artists will contribute work to 10 curated exhibitions, including newly commissioned work by Rasheed Araeen, and workshops led by Superflex and Raqs Media collective, among others.
New Museum Triennial, February 13–May 27, 2018
For the New Museum’s fourth triennial, the curator duo of Gary Carrion-Murayari and Alex Gartenfeld is looking farther afield than previous editions. In fact, as opposed to the other triennials that touted rosters that were often exciting but not completely surprising, it wouldn’t be uncommon if only a few of the names on the 2018 list ring a bell. Titled “Songs for Sabotage”, the show will inclue some 30 young artists from 19 countries in what is sure to be a politically charged exhibition. This very global presentation will focus on works as “an interference in political and social structures”, looking at racism and colonialism as givens within the structures of cities and everyday life.
The New Museum Triennial “Songs for Sabotage” will be presented at the New Museum in New York City.
Fotofest International, March 10–April 22, 2018
This year’s edition of the Fotofest photographic arts biennial, founded in 1986, will feature one of the largest exhibitions of contemporary photography by artists of Indian origin ever assembled in the US. Photographer Sunil Gupta, who will be the subject of a simultaneous solo exhibition at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, is serving as lead curator, having met with over 100 artists across the globe before selecting the biennial roster.
The FotoFest Biennial, titled “INDIA: Contemporary Photographic and New Media Art,” will take place across various venues in Houston, Texas.
Biennale of Sydney, March 16–June 11, 2018
The 21st edition of Australia’s biggest contemporary art event will happen over three months in the spring. It’s the only free festival of its kind in the country, and Ai Weiwei will open the show with a keynote and conversation with art director Mami Kataoka. Curated around the theme of “superposition”—a quantum mechanical term referring to the ability of electrons to occupy multiple states at once—the work shown will jostle with the idea, and how opposing belief systems can coexist in equilibrium in society.
The Sydney biennial will showcase the work of 70 artists, including Samson Young, Ryan Gander, Haegue Yang, Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Anya Gallaccio, and Oliver Beer. See the full list of participating artists here.
The Biennale of Sydney will take place across seven museums, galleries, and exhibition spaces in Sydney, Australia.
Glasgow International, April 20–May 7, 2018The Glasgow biennial returns for its eighth edition under new direction. Richard Parry will helm his own director’s program, a large group exhibition titled “Cellular World” at the Gallery of Modern Art that will engage with the notions of the cyborg, artificial intelligence, and avatars. Responding to a politically tumultuous period, the artist-led program will feature projects examining ideas such as identity, race, fatherhood, and queer feminist photography. More than 45 group shows and 35 solo exhibitions will show the work of 190 artists including Turner Prize-winner Lubaina Himid, Cécile B. Evans, Urs Fischer, Mark Leckey, and a brand new Linder commission from the Glasgow Women’s Library.
Glasgow International will take place across over 70 venues in the city of Glasgow, Scotland.
13th Baltic Triennial, May, June, and September Openings in Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia
For the first time in its history, the biennial—curated by the recently appointed curator of Hayward Gallery, Vincent Honoré—will take place in three Baltic countries, to mark the centennial year of the Restoration of Independence of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. This iteration’s title “Give Up the Ghost” could be in reference to shedding the ghosts of the region’s past in order to move forward. Established in 1979, the Baltic Triennial is devoted to presentations by young artists living and working in the Baltic region, and often focuses on non-conformist themes and attitudes expressed in their artworks. A series of events serving as a prelude to the triennial show is already ongoing at the CAC in Vilnius.
The 13th Baltic Triennial “Give up the ghost” will open at the CAC in Vilnius, Lithuania in May 2018; June 2018 at the Tallinn Art Hall, Estonia; and September 2018 at Kim? in Riga, Latvia.
RIBOCA—1st Riga International Biennial of Contemporary Art, June 2–October 28, 2018
The inaugural edition of Latvia’s RIBOCA, curated by Katerina Gregos, takes its title from Alexei Yurchak’s book on the collapse of the Soviet Union, Everything Was Forever, Until it Was No More. Focusing on change in the time of accelerated transitions, the biennial will explore the delayed shockwaves that still resonates in the entire post-Soviet sphere, including the Baltic states, and how this title can also be used to aptly describe our current collective consciousness. Many of the participating artists will either have been born in, or live and work in, the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
Made in LA 2018 at the Hammer Museum, June 3–September 2, 2018
The Hammer Museum will present the fourth edition of its biennial showcasing artists living in the Los Angeles area. The list of participating artists, all of whom are commissioned to create new work, won’t be announced until February, but expect to see lots of emerging and under-recognized artists, selected by curators Anne Ellegood, the museum’s senior curator, and local independent curator Erin Christovale.
Made in LA 2018 will take place at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles.
10th Berlin Biennale, June 9–September 9, 2018
Shortly after being selected as the curator of this edition, Gabi Ngcobo invited four additional curators to collaborate on the 10th Berlin Biennale, including Moses Serubiri (Kampala, UG), Nomaduma Rosa Masilela (New York, US), Thiago de Paula Souza (São Paulo, BR), and Yvette Mutumba (Berlin, DE). Known to always be experimental and forward-thinking, the Berlin Biennale’s stated ambitions for this iteration ring not only realistic but necessary: it will follow a non-comprehensive process, and take strategies of self-preservation as key starting points. Or as the website states, “the 10th Berlin Biennale proposes a plan for how to face a collective madness.”
The 10th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art will take place at various venues in Berlin.at various venues in Berlin.
Manifesta 12, June 16–November 4, 2018
This year’s nomadic European biennial is touching down in the city of Palermo, on the Italian island of Sicily. The exhibition is doing away with its usual single-curator format, opting for a team of so-called “creative mediators,” most of whom come from fields beyond art. There are two architects, a journalist and filmmaker, and a contemporary art curator for good measure. This shake-up promises to be truly interesting, and the effort seems rather noble: The biennial hopes to truly break through the art-world bubble and have a lasting and sustainable impact on the city, a Mediterranean hub that struggles with serious crime, corruption, and poverty.
Manifesta 12 “The Planetary Garden: Cultivating Coexistence” will take place across several locations around Palermo, Italy.
Front Triennial, July 14–September 30, 2018
Despite the departure of its co-curator Jens Hoffmann after accusations of sexual misconduct (which he denies), Cleveland’s Front Triennial soldiers on under the stewardship of Chicago artist-curator Michelle Grabner. Responding to the concept of cities today, spread across numerous venues, and opening in summer 2018, “An American City—Eleven Cultural Exercises” includes over 70 international artists, from Candice Breitz and Allan Sekula to Yinka Shonibare MBE, and will feature an endless list of features, from artist residencies, lectures, and a film- and video-program, a lecture tour to regional studio visits and publications. “Our ambition is to be the most important contemporary art event in North America,” founder Fred Bidwell told artnet News. In any case, it may end up being the most thoroughly programmed.
The inaugural Front Triennial will take place across 19 venues in Cleveland, Ohio.
Liverpool Biennial, July 14–October 28, 2018
The tenth edition of one of Europe’s leading biennials is due to open in Liverpool in July and run until the end of October. Co-organized by Sally Tallant and Kitty Scott, this iteration is titled “Beautiful World, Where Are You?” after a poem by Schiller set to music by Schubert. In a world in turmoil gripped by deep uncertainty the organizers believe that what sounds like a lament could also be “an invitation to reconsider our past, advancing a new sense of beauty that might be shared in a more equitable way.” See the list of participating artists here.
The Liverpool Biennial will be presented in art venues and public spaces across Liverpool, England.
SITE Santa Fe, August 2018–January 6, 2019
The eleventh biennial presented by SITE Santa Fe is the first to be held in the expanded and recently re-opened new building. Titled “Casa tomada” it will be curated by a three-member team, including José Luis Blondet, curator of special projects at LACMA; Candice Hopkins, an independent Albuquerque-based curator; and Ruba Katrib, a curator at MoMA PS1. The exhibition plays off the short story of the same name by Argentine writer Julio Cortázar, which follows two shut-in siblings who are devoted to the care of their ancestral home. The exhibition will feature work by approximately 25 artists. The first project is a commissioned song by LA-based Stephanie Taylor, who creates musical works amid installations.
SITE Santa Fe will be presented at SITE, in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Gwangju Biennale, September 7–November 11, 2018
In its 12th edition, the Gwangju Biennale has opted not to name a single artistic director, instead adopting a new structure with an international team of curators including Christine Kim of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Clara Kim of London’s Tate Modern. The overarching theme, “Imagined Borders,” is a timely one, inspired by migration and refugees, both historic and present day, and raising the question of what borders mean in an increasingly global world. The exhibition will also draw on the city’s history, presenting work at historic sites tied to the May 18 Democratic Uprising of 1980, which left as many as 600 people dead.
The Gwangju Biennale will be presented at the Gwangju Biennale Exhibition Hall and Asia Culture Center in Gwangju, South Korea.
The Bienal de São Paulo, September 7–December 9, 2018
In an effort to reshape and rethink the methods in which biennials are typically organized, Gabriel Pérez-Barreiro, head curator of the 33rd edition, has selected seven artists to each curate their own show, which will result in seven separate exhibitions unified by the 2018 theme of Affective Affinities. Invited artists-cum-curators are Alejandro Cesarco, Antonio Ballester Moreno, Claudia Fontes, Mamma Andersson, Sofia Borges, Waltercio Caldas, and Wura-Natasha Ogunji.
The Bienal de São Paulo will be held at the Ciccillo Matarazzo Pavilion in the Parque do Ibirapuera in São Paulo, Brazil.
Bangkok Art Biennale, October 19, 2018–February 3, 2019
Thailand’s capital city gets its first art biennial, featuring 70 artists, from international stars Marina Abramović and Elmgreen & Dragset, to less-familiar local talent such as Sanitas Pradittasnee and Kawita Vatanajyankur. Artistic director Apinan Poshyananda is organizing on the theme “Beyond Bliss,” which will feature interpretations of joy and happiness, but also touch on sociopolitical and environmental issues that can lead to a distinct lack of bliss. In an effort to promote Bangkok as the “Venice of the East,” with a vital contemporary art scene, the exhibition will be held at various venues on the Chao Phraya River, including a trio of ancient temples. Chinese-French artist Huang Yong Ping has been tapped to create an installation at the Wat Arun Temple of Dawn. (The first Thailand Biennale, held on natural sites in the southern coastal province of Krabi, will be held November 2, 2018–February 28, 2019).
The Bangkok Art Biennale will be presented at various sites on the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok, Thailand.
Kochi-Muziris Biennale, December 12, 2018-March 29, 2019
For its fourth outing since it was founded in 2010, the Kochi-Muziris Biennale has kept with its tradition of appointing artists to organize the biennale with the selection of Anita Dube as its 2018 curator, who has extensive experience exhibiting both in her home country—where the event is based—as well as internationally. While further details about the 2018 edition are not yet available, Dube has already made history as the first woman to helm the exhibition.
The Kochi-Muziris Biennale will be presented in art venues and public locations across Kochi and Muziris, India.
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