When we announced in May of 2018 the curatorial theme re-IMAGE-n for our 2018-2020 exhibition, we never imagined that halfway through it we’d have to reimagine the exhibition itself. Then along came COVID, quarantines, border closures, social distancing, fear of public space and every particle in it. We needed to step back, stay safe, then transcend towards new ways of thinking about community engagement and the shared experience of public art.
As an organization, pushing beyond the norm is in our DNA. In the 20 years since our first Biennale, we’ve always tried to push the traditional boundaries of public art. We resisted the idea of a centralized art park and instead situated artwork in unexpected places throughout the city. We moved artwork off of pedestals and installed directly on the grass and the sandy beach for people to have a more tactile, less hierarchical personal experience. We’ve tried to put the “public” in public art by encouraging people connect as a participant, not simply viewer, through our social media platforms. We’ve long since moved beyond art for the sake of art, to art as a catalyst for learning about the world around us, as a way of breaking bread across communities to confront our fears and prejudices, and as an inspiration point to social action towards a more optimistic future.
With the Biennale’s objective to always be ahead of the curve, these next six months may very well be our best yet. With this extension to our re-IMAGE-n exhibition, we begin to reimagine the very definition of public space itself. It provides us the opportunity to cast our net globally, finding ways to connect virtually, move towards greater accessibility and make the experience of art more interactive. We’ve enjoyed this journey and hope that you do too.