José Roca


International curator José Roca talked at length about his experiences curating art bienials, festivals and events, in particular the http://www.bienalmercosul.art.br/ in Brazil 2011.

I was particularly struck by his passion and compassion for art as he talked about the selection process involved in staging a large event. He said he was anti comissioning artists to produce work for bienials, as he felt uncomfortable about placing restraints or parameters around artists. For the recent Mercosul Bienial whose theme was ‘inspired by the tensions between local and transnational territories, between political constructs and geographical circumstances, and the routes of circulation and exchange of symbolic capital. ‘ this was of heightened importance.
Travelling extensively in the regions involved, selectors met with artists and invited work which was relevant to the theme, rather than vice versa.

Also, commenting on the inclusion of a separate cinematic event for screening video art, Roca described his view on film art at bienials, saying that the sum of the hours of the works shown at other events would demand the visitor spending 7 days from dawn to dusk to see them all.
Considering this is unrealistic, and most visitors have a couple of days to see all works, he suggested that showing longer works in this context was insulting to the works. Better to invite shorter pieces to show alongside other works, and invite visitors to attend screenins where works could be viewed if they are longer.
This will exclude longer works from general presentations, but make works which are shown more accessible and more likely to be seen. Duration may be a parameter the selectors have to work with themselves rather than pass on to the artists…

the debate continues…

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