Inventer-le-monde :
l'artiste citoyen
Introduction of a Biennale / Inventing the World: The Artist as Citizen

Thursday 23 August 2012

All the versions of this article: [English] [français]

Inventing the World: The Artist as Citizen
Inventer le monde: l’artiste citoyen


from 8 November 2012 to 13 January 2013
Opening Activities from 8 to 11 November 2012

Artistic Director: Abdellah Karroum
Associate Curator of Special Projects: Didier Houénoudé
Associate Curators for Research and Encounters: Anne Szefer-Karlsen, Olivier Marboeuf and Claire Tancons.
In collaboration with an international group of curators and professionals - the Curatorial Delegation

Idea, Context:

Large-scale exhibitions and biennales have been both historically important spaces for intellectuals and moments of celebration for communities, as with the Festival mondial des arts nègres (World Festival for Black Arts, Dakar, 1966), the Festival panafricain (Panafrican Festival, Algiers, 1969), and the Johannesburg Biennale (1995). The function of these gatherings also extends to taking ideological and artistic positions, as seen in the Havana Biennale and the Yokohama Triennale. These meetings have always been conceived in collaboration with intellectuals and in close proximity to the political and sociological. Above all, they translate the spirit of artistic projects that are enmeshed in the city where they take place.
By observing the expressive forms of the contemporary era, on the African continent and elsewhere, and that of the “Generation 00” in the transition to the 21st century, the Biennale Bénin 2012 interrogates the notion of the artist as citizen in its active, social, and aesthetic dimensions. Art’s vocabulary is inscribed in a multiple temporality, between a nomadic imaginary and real presences in the world, between invention and action. It is this correspondence between creative universes and exterior encounters that the work’s sense is formulated, from an aesthetic idea to an ethical proposal.

In turn, collective memory, fashioned from historical facts and ethical values, becomes a shared heritage that extends well beyond commercially cultivated borders. For a long time, artists working in Benin have been implicated in society by producing artworks and by creating concrete interventions. In dialogue with the cultural scene of Benin, the international exhibition, Inventing the World: The Artist as Citizen, brings together existing artworks and new projects produced for the exhibition. Whereas the new productions respond directly to the question of the “artist as citizen,” the existing artworks selected by the Curatorial Delegation interrogate the context of the exhibition and broader international artistic tendencies in order consider both how they are formulated by the artists and the terms of their presentation.

The cartography of an exhibition is defined by the spaces of action where artists-citizens intervene and is completed by the correspondence of the artworks with the spaces from which they have emerged. Meschac Gaba’s Musée d’Art de la Vie Active, MAVA (Museum of Art for the Active Life) is an emblematic example included in Inventing the World: The Artist as Citizen.
A. K.

  • Vue extérieur du Centre Kora, lieu de l’exposition internationale de la Biennale Bénin 2012