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Another Dallas Biennial? The Spring Art Calendar Just Got More Confusing – And Interesting

In the April edition of D Magazine, the Dallas Contemporary’s Peter Doroshenko speaks about launching the first — and last — Dallas Biennale as a way of using the platform of the Dallas Art Fair to bring up the idea of the “tired” (as he puts it) biennale model.

Well, as it turns out, the Dallas Contemporary’s conceptual “biennale,” which won’t actually repeat every two years, will not be the only Dallas art event this spring to call itself a “biennale,” or “biennial,” or however you want to spell the word that denotates a survey art exhibition repeating every other year (or in Dallas’ cast, not repeating). Three Dallas artists, Michael Mazurek, Jesse Morgan Barnett, and C.J. Davis (who all share a studio) have been planning their own Dallas Biennial, or, for short, DB12, Volume 1, with an inaugural event kicking off April 13 which will “address the phenomenon of the biennial.” From the curators’ release:

“When we began the process last year, we knew our first iteration of a biennial should challenge the format in some manner. The typical structure of a biennial is expansive, allowing curators to display what they offer as the highlights of the art world at large. DB12 is no different in this respect. We’re just adjusting the strategy a bit. To this end, we will embed our gallery, Dick Higgins, inside the office of Oliver Francis Gallery, which has been lent to us by the owner.”

This new biennial also has an online home, Dallasbiennial.org. When we were fact checking the story about the Dallas Contemporary’s biennale, we stumbled on that website, so I reached out to Mazurek to find out what the guys were up to. He said they were working on an event for 2014, but were mounting a web-based exhibition in 2012. “This is not a critique per se,” Mazurek wrote at the time, “But rather a multidisciplinary approach to curatorial jockeying. DB12 is also a hybrid: part event, part data, part research, part publication. It will probably be viewed in hindsight as the preface to a much larger catalog.”

Between now and then, however, DB12 has expanded somewhat. There will be the exhibition in the back office of the Oliver Francis Gallery — that’s a 300-square-foot space — featuring six artists representing five countries. These include:

- Artur Barrio, 2011 Venice Biennale representative for Brazil
- Guillaume Leblon, France, 2011 Prix Marcel Duchamp nominee
- Sharon Ya’ari, Israel
- Asger Carlsen and George Horner, both represented by Tony Shafrazi Gallery
- Michael Vorfeld, Germany, featured in “Documenta 8” with the artist group Heinrich Mucken

Again, from the curators:

“The unorthodox nature of attempting to curate a biennial in a 300-square-foot office forced a concision unheard of for an international survey. However,” the curators explain, “this is exactly why we chose this space.”

In addition to the exhibition at Oliver Francis (also, playfully enough, a spot on the Dallas Contemporary’s Dallas Biennale tour), DB12 will feature a screening at the Texas Theater of Robert Smithson’s “Spiral Jetty;” Nam June Paik’s “Good Morning, Mr. Orwell,” “Documenta 6 Satellite Telecast,” and “Lake Placid ’80;” and Artur Barrio’s “Situations, T/T 1.” There will also be the promised online component, which will include some 23 participating artists, with a mix of local, national, and international participants.

I’m still digesting most of this, but here are two takeaways:

1) Oliver Francis Gallery continues to be an invaluable part of the local art ecosystem, in part because it offers the kind of open-ended, easy-to-use project space that Dallas has so desperately needed. Kevin Jacobs has proven that if you rent it, they will show. I’d love to see what would happen if we had two or three more such spaces open up.

2) While we still have a thirst for sitting around and gabbing about what is going on in the scene, I’d like to invite you to stop for a second and look at all of these events and ask yourself, are things improving in Dallas art? I think you can feel okay saying “yes.” And if you follow up with a “why,” the answer points to Michael Corris’s comments in the post linked to above, a repetition of something he said at the original DMA State of the Arts panel: “Artists should stop asking for permission and take the situation into their own hands.” Indeed.

The release:

DALLASBIENNIAL.ORG ANNOUNCES “DICK HIGGINS GALLERY: DB12, VOLUME 1” AT OLIVER FRANCIS GALLERY

April 13, 2012 – May 5, 2012
Six Artists From Five Countries to Present Works in Dallas
Dallas, Texas (April 1, 2012) — DB12 will be on view in Dallas from April 13 – May 5, 2012. The Dallas Biennial’s inaugural event will address the phenomenon of the biennial.

The curators state, “When we began the process last year, we knew our first iteration of a biennial should challenge the format in some manner. The typical structure of a biennial is expansive, allowing curators to display what they offer as the highlights of the art world at large. DB12 is no different in this respect. We’re just adjusting the strategy a bit. To this end, we will embed our gallery, Dick Higgins, inside the office of Oliver Francis Gallery, which has been lent to us by the owner.”

The installation features work selected specifically to meet the challenges of the space, while ensuring that each artist’s selection speaks to the essence of their work. “The unorthodox nature of attempting to curate a biennial in a 300-square-foot office forced a concision unheard of for an international survey. However,” the curators explain, “this is exactly why we chose this space.”

Despite these demands, Dallas will have the opportunity to view firsthand seminal works from both U.S. and international artists. A diverse group from five countries will be on display, including the 2011 Venice Biennale representative for Brazil, Artur Barrio, and the 2011 Prix Marcel Duchamp nominee, Guillaume Leblon. Leblon’s sound piece, entitled 4pm, Frévent, will provide the backdrop for the succinct exhibition. Every hour of the day, a recording of four church gongs from a village in Northern France will play, marking every hour as though it were 4pm. The artist elaborates: “This is an in-between hour, a suspended time. As the sound is heard throughout the space, one will become aware of time as a hyper-conscious passing.”

Another work by Sharon Ya’ari from Israel, Frame Loops, presents time as a compilation of moments. Made from a group of video images captured as stills, it tells a “tiny story of a moment of observing and listening to a private, negligible activity.” In addition, the exhibition will include an installation by Dallas’ own Stephen Lapthisophon, called Offal—a work about states of interiority and subjectivity.

Other artists on view include Asger Carlsen, George Horner (of Tony Shafrazi Gallery), and Michael Vorfeld (featured in “Documenta 8” with the artist group Heinrich Mucken).

Coinciding with the Dallas installation, DB12 will also host a free film screening and present an online exhibition. Launched in tandem with the exhibition at Oliver Francis Gallery, the Internet-based presentation will continue through 2014. DB12’s first online phase, Volume 1, will take place April 13 – June 8, 2012 and remain open-ended, spanning over two years. The curators state, “This dual format allows us to expand the dialogue, unconstrained by location or time and unrestricted by conventional institutional parameters.”

The screening will take place at the historic Texas Theatre on May 31 from 7-10 pm. Films featured thus far include Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty; Nam June Paik’s Good Morning, Mr. Orwell, Documenta 6 Satellite Telecast, and Lake Placid ’80; and Artur Barrio’s Situations, T/T 1.

Artists in the Dallas-based exhibition include: Artur Barrio (Brazil), Asger Carlsen (Denmark), George Horner (USA), Stephen Lapthisophon (USA), Guillaume Leblon (France), Michael Vorfeld (Germany), and Sharon Ya’ari (Israel).

Artists in the Internet-based exhibition include: Artur Barrio (Brazil), Asger Carlsen (Denmark), Petra Cortright (USA), Ted Davis (USA), Jeff Gibbons (USA), Matthew Girson (USA), Matt Hanner (USA), Mishka Henner (United Kingdom), George Horner (USA), Devin King (USA), Irena Knezevic (Serbia), Stephen Lapthisophon (USA), Guillaume Leblon (France), Lou Mallozzi (USA), Gustavo Matamoros (USA), Antonio Ottomanelli (Italy), The Estate of Nam June Paik (Korea), Bjorn Ross (Denmark), Amber Hawk Swanson (USA), Brad Tucker (USA), Michael Vorfeld (Germany), Sharon Ya’ari (Israel), Jeff Zilm (USA), and others.

Artists in the film screening at Texas Theater include: Artur Barrio, The Estate of Nam June Paik, The Estate of Robert Smithson, and others.

About the curators:

Michael Mazurek, Jesse Morgan Barnett, and C.J. Davis are Dallas-based artists.

Dates for THE DALLAS BIENNIAL

DB12: Web Exhibition (April 13, 2012 – April 13, 2014)

DB12: Volume 1. Web Exhibition (April 13 – June 8, 2012)
DB12: Volume 1. At Dick Higgins Gallery (located inside Oliver Francis Gallery) (April 13 – May 5, 2012) (Opening Reception April 13, 6-9pm)
DB12: Free Film Screening at Texas Theater (May 31, 2012, 7-10pm)

2 comments on “Another Dallas Biennial? The Spring Art Calendar Just Got More Confusing – And Interesting

  1. i don’t know who dees cats are, but they sound terrific.
    ‘specially the mazurik fellow. i ilke his name.

    i hail from england, and have spent many years in the churcH of england as a BISHOP. and as i get older, metaphorically because i am dead, i get more and more excited about these unorthodox activities sponsoring human communication and relation-al compassion.

    give yourself in.

    give yourself hope.

    make change.
    NIKE.

    DALLAS _ WELCOME

  2. Correction from our press release, it should state: Seven Artists From Six Countries to Present Works in Dallas: Artur Barrio (Brazil), Asger Carlsen (Denmark), George Horner (USA), Stephen Lapthisophon (USA), Guillaume Leblon (France), Michael Vorfeld (Germany), and Sharon Ya’ari (Israel).