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Monday, 20.4.2020

Statement on the postponement of the 11th Berlin Biennale

At this very moment people all over the world are finding different ways of holding on to one another when we can no longer be in proximity. The generosity of these multiple gestures and their expansiveness assures us that despite the diverse calls for lives to be sacrificed to save the economic system, each and every vulnerable body is of value for the collective being that is the world. We do not know when or how we will come out of this or if it will better prepare us for the next crisis. For now, all scenarios are hypothetical.

In September 2019, when the 11th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art inaugurated its temporary space at ExRotaprint with exp. 1: The Bones of the World, our intention as curators was to open up the process and slow down the machinery of a biennial. When the decision to close the doors of this temporary space was communicated several weeks ago we could not foresee what has been happening globally since. We are still bound by many uncertainties, yet for us, keeping our commitments with all our collaborators, our team, our public, our neighbors as well as artists and participants is vital. Taking care of each other is important, particularly because this care is now fundamental, not only for our individual well-being but that of all people at risk, throughout the world, who are facing the gross inequality of exposure, diagnosis, and recovery from the virus of the present.

Although postponing the 11th Berlin Biennale is unavoidable, as curators and as an institution our intention is to ensure that when it can take place, it does in such a way that no one is unnecessarily exposed. This is a time for cultural institutions to reassess the ways they operate and a chance to rethink the ways exhibition-making constitute a space for public encounter, as some practitioners have been doing by politicizing accessibility and healthcare. We are aware that these transformations will be a collective effort that will require everyone to push in many different directions at the same time. In these times of pandemic, we recall the words recently gifted by one woman to another when facing other perils: “Ninguém solta a mão de ninguém” [No one let go of anybody else].

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11. Berlin Biennale Link