Biennale des Canaries
Art & Social Landscape, On Sustainable Culture


Divided into four cycles, curated by Antonio Zaya, Ramón Salas and Ángel Mollá
The University of La Laguna is hosting this five day symposium.The 1st Architecture, Art & Landscape Biennial of the Canaries, the Government of the Canaries’flagship cultural event, gets off to a start with this symposium.

From Monday 27th November until Friday 1st December, the 1st Architecture, Art & Landscape Biennial of the Canaries, organized by the Cultural Department of the Government of the Canaries, has programmed the first Africa, America & Europe International Symposium with the general theme of Art and Social Landscape, On Sustainable Culture. The goals of the symposium are to analyse the contemporary scene in Maghreb, Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and Europe, focus territories for the Biennial with a significant representation of contemporary art produced in these regions.

For the organisers and curators Antonio Zaya, Ramón Salas and Ángel Mollá, the problems arising in the early 21st century within the culture-nature dialectics, have an immediate influence on art and on our shared social life. As they put it « we need a new civil culture which will help us to face the unwanted effects of the new organisation of the world with lucidity and dignity, as well as an urgent albeit profound reflection on our here and now closely tied in with the rest of mankind ».
The Canaries is not on the periphery but at the very centre of our conventional way of depicting the world. « In fact, it is the point connecting Europe, Africa and America. And only a unidirectional concept of cultural flows would lead us to define territories and cultures in relation with their distance to the North Atlantic », they added. This typically modern scenario can no longer be sustained: globalization, tourism, unstoppable migrations, cultural hybridisation… are all radically altering our physical, social and cultural landscape. The archipelago has become a singular observatory, if not a true laboratory or even its own guinea pig.

While the Biennial intends to converge the traces of these new cultural vectors in the Islands, the Symposium will attempt to map the complex cultural scenario we live in.

The Faculty of Information Sciences at the University of La Laguna of Tenerife will host this symposium in which renowned experts will analyse the questions posed by artists from these regions. Around twenty artists, lecturers, professors, museum directors, independent curators, writers, poets…, will expound their views in the four cycles in the Symposium.

The opening session of the symposium will take place on Monday 27th November, from 10:30 am to 1:30 pm, in Aula Magna with a presentation by the Head of the Department of Culture & Sports, Dulce Xerach Pérez; the rector of the University of La Laguna, Ángel Gutiérrez; Rosina Gómez-Baeza, director of the Biennial; Antonio Zaya, curator; Javier Aguado, managing director of Fundación Santander Central Hispano; Ángel Mollá and Ramón Salas, lecturer in Ethics and Theory of Art and lecturer in Painting at the University of La Laguna, respectively, and Fernando Castro Borrego, Professor of History of Contemporary Art at the same university Laguna.
After the initial presentations, the director of Contemporary Arab Representations and curator at Centro Georges Pompidou in Paris, Catherine David, will give a paper.

The following day, Tuesday 28th, sees the beginning of the first cycle Maghreb. The Other Shore of the Landscape, directed by Antonio Zaya. The recurring issue of Africa-Europe migrations, the social, economic and political context associated with contemporary culture and the mechanisms implicit in the societies on the other shore, largely unknown on the Canaries Islands, are the concerns being addressed in this cycle from various perspectives.

This first cycle will feature the Swiss curator and theorist Ursula Biemann, an artist who has created a considerable production on migration, mobility, technology and gender in recent years; the Moroccan poet and painter Mahi Binedine, author of several novels translated into many languages and winner of major awards, whose paintings are in the collection of the Guggenheim New York; Bassam El-Baroni, Egyptian curator and art critic, director of Alexandria Contemporary Art Forum; the director of L’appartement 22, Abdellah Karroum, also a curator and art critic; and the Tunisian poet, essayist and novelist Abdelwahab Meddeb, professor of comparative literature at the University of Paris X, editor of the international and intercultural magazine Dédale, who has published a score of books and whose work has been translated into some fifteen languages.

Sub-Saharan Africa. The Endless Diaspora, the second cycle in the Symposium, proposes a reflection on the interaction between Sub-Saharan Africa and the Canaries, based on the continuous journey and its many itineraries; it wishes to promote knowledge of, and a debate on, the discontinuous, ephemeral and unbalanced relationship between the continent and the Canary Islands, between remote and at once neighbouring peoples, and nourish a sustainable cultural correspondence.

The five speakers in this cycle, directed by Antonio Zaya and held on Wednesday 29th, are the critic specialised in African cinema Manthia Diawara, and academic at the New York University; Salah Hassan, Assistant Professor of African and African Diaspora, Art History and Visual Culture in Africana Studies and Research Center at Cornell University. Ithaca, USA; the Chilean architect, artist and film director Alfredo Jaar, also one of the artists featured in the 1st Architecture, Art & Landscape Biennial of the Canaries with an intervention in El Tanque (Santa Cruz de Tenerife), his work has been seen in New York, London, Chicago, Berlin, Stockholm… and in the biennales of Venice, Sao Paulo, Johannesburg, Sidney, Istanbul and Kwangju, besides the Documenta in Kassel.

Octavio Zaya, co-editor of the magazine Atlántica and co-curator of the Documenta of Kassel will close the cycle with a paper which will be followed by an open discussion.
All cycles will be followed by discussions open to participants and audience.

Latin America. Heterotopias wants to throw an updated spotlight on the presence of the Canaries in Latin America, made from cultural and artistic disciplines, through a reading of « difference » within globalisation grounded in the interaction between America and Europe. Speakers in this third cycle of the symposium are the director of Museo Nacional de Artes Visuales de Uruguay, Ángel Kalenberg; Ticio Escobar, director of Museo de Arte Indígena del Centro de Artes Visuales del Barro in Asunción, Paraguay, curator and art critic; the Paris-based Colombian independent curator and art critic, Mari Inés Rodríguez, who has published in the periodicals Instant City and Bogotham City and collaborates with the magazines Atlántica, Latinart.com, Les inrockuptibles, Beaux Arts Magazine; the Uruguayan artist Ana Tiscornia, based in New and lecturer at the Art Department at the State University of New York College at Old Westbury, and director of the Amelie A. Wallace Gallery at SUNY Old Westbury, and art editor at Point of Contact, the Journal of Verbal and Visual Arts,de Syracuse, she has also exhibited regularly in Latin America, USA and Europe; and the final speaker in the cycle, Yolanda Wood, is cultural attaché at the Cuban Embassy in Paris. She is a Doctor in Art Sciences at the University of Havana and lecturer at the Department of Art History, she imparts classes in Caribbean Art and Art Problematics in Contemporary Caribbean. Besides, she is the director of Caribbean Studies at La Casa de Las Américas.

The lecturers at the University of La Laguna, Ángel Mollá and Ramón Salas, both also art critics and curators, are the co-directors of the fourth and last cycle in this symposium: Europe. Culture After Welfare.
For them, Europe has shifted from a centre disseminating « civilization » to a receiver of cultures. Bourgeois culture couples welfare with a vision of progress and development that has proved to be non-sustainable, and not merely in terms of that non-renewable good we call land. The Canaries is an example of how the leisure industry can jeopardize a welfare still waiting to be defined. The landscape of the islands is one of conflict: temporary decisions lacking in perspective and coherence, justified by an opaque mesh of interests and factors.
This cycle looks at the landscape of the world to come, a world in which we will have to make and think art.

Besides the co-directors, Salas and Mollá, the cycle also features Joan Nogué, Professor of Human Geography, University of Girona, and director of the Catalan Landscape Observatory, a doctor in Architecture and a graduate in Economic Sciences who works in two general lines of research: geographical and territorial thinking and the cultural landscape; Joaquín Sabaté, Professor of Urban and Rural Planning, Polytechnic University of Catalonia, a doctor in Architecture and a graduate in Economic Sciences, founder of the International Laboratory of Cultural Landscapes and editor of the magazine ID Identidades: Territorio, Cultura, Patrimonio; Remo Guideri, professor of Anthropology at the Universities of Paris, Naples and New York, also a professor of Aesthetics and a key figure in contemporary art. He is co-founder of the magazine RES, has undertaken ethnographic missions in the Salomon and Polynesian islands and is a guest lecturer in many prestigious universities.
Partager :