The Biennale de l’Image en Mouvement, delayed by a year by the pandemic, is a unique event in more ways than one. Since director of the Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève, Andrea Bellini, took over in 2012, all the featured work has been commissioned specifically for the biennial. Each iteration is co-curated by Bellini and an outside curator of his choosing, this time the New York-based collective DIS.
‘I think the big difference between DIS and all the other curators in the art world is that they have a constant dialogue with the artists they work with, it's a family, it's a community,’ Bellini says.
‘A Goodbye Letter, A Love Call, A Wake Up Song’ comprises 15 works, the majority of which have been made during the pandemic, satisfying a need to mirror the moment, unprecedented in our lifetimes. Artists including Camille Henrot, Juliana Huxtable & Hannah Black, Telfar, Will Benedict & Steffen Jørgensen, Mandy Harris Williams, and Leah Hennessey & Emily Allan raise questions about hierarchies, in terms of identity, finance, race, gender and even species.
According to Lauren Boyle of DIS, the curatorial process was a fluid one, as film is a collaborative medium, which led to a cross-pollination as some artists contributed to each other’s work. As a result, there is a consensus in the messages behind the works.
The industrial space has been divided up to embody a ‘hotel’ for the art on view, with each installation inhabiting its own room with a small porthole you can peer through before entering. The dark curtained corridors are dimly lit by works from Grau’s Fire, 2021, a series of light sculptures. Large lozenge-shaped, throbbing orbs of red and blue light guide you through the hotel. This evokes a feeling of existing inside a screen, as the works play with the sense of reality as they mark the way through the darkness from film to film.
Everything But The World, 2021 created by DIS, defies the nebulous space we have until now occupied. A historical tour guide deconstructs ideas about feminism and witchcraft, satirical internet personalities Wit and Banter ask us if we know ‘that most fossils are actually unhappy with their condition’, and a White Castle burger-joint drive-through operator lectures his customers about late-stage capitalism as they wait for their food. An overarching narrative is provided by artist and filmmaker Leilah Weinraub, who plays the role of Shock Jock, leaving us with the question ‘Why are you mad?’
The sending up of manifesto and performative identity is a common theme. Mandy Harris Williams’ Couture Critiques looks at performative intellectualism, asking why we need to perform ideas and what doing this via social media can do to their content and meaning.
Juliana Huxtable & Hannah Black and And Or Forever debunk the hierarchy of species in Penumbra, 2021, a reworking of the original play staged at Performance Space New York. Elsewhere, Simon Fujiwara talks about identity politics outside the digital space in Who is Who? 2021, and Will Benedict & Steffen Jørgensen tackle our relationship with food and digestion. Leah Hennessey & Emily Allan’s film Illuminati Detectives in which Byron and Shelley investigate the paranormal for the Illuminati brings some serious laughs.
All the works, although often laced with humour, challenge the infrastructure of our lives and inherent identities – from Akeem Smith’s Social Cohesiveness, and Telfar’s TELFARTV, 2021 a live stream, to Theo Anthony’s exploration of the narrative of police body-cam footage. Anthony’s project is serialised on DIS.art, where there are continuations of certain works.
There is something deeply liberating about experiencing work dealing with themes brought into relief by the pandemic. Whether overloading, confusing, life re-assessing, identity re-evaluating or simply offering a chance to step back, universal questions are captivatingly parsed through this exhibition.
Biennale de l'Image en Mouvement 2021: ‘A Goodbye Letter, A Love Call, A Wake Up Song’, until 30 January, Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève. centre.ch
Receive our daily digest of inspiration, escapism and design stories from around the world direct to your inbox
Byredo holiday collection draws inspiration from Wim Wenders and Georgia O’Keefe
Byredo’s creative image director Lucia Pica speaks to Wallpaper* in an exclusive interview, revealing her off-kilter design process
By Mary Cleary Published
2024 Pantone Color of the Year is looking deliciously peachy
Peach Fuzz is Pantone Color of the Year – time to refeather your nest in a comforting hue?
By Tianna Williams Published
Design Miami 2023 explores how design responds to the world around us
Design Miami 2023 (until 10 December), curated by Anna Carnick, is guided by the theme of ‘Where We Stand’
By Rosa Bertoli Published
Bally Foundation’s new Lake Lugano headquarters is an art-filled paradise
The Bally Foundation inaugurates its new headquarters in a 1930s villa overlooking the majestic Lake Lugano, Switzerland with the group show ‘Un Lac Inconnu’ (An Unknown Lake)
By Hili Perlson Published
Supergraphics pioneer Barbara Stauffacher Solomon: ‘Sure, make things big – anything is possible'
94-year-old graphic designer Barbara Stauffacher Solomon talks radical typography, motherhood, and her cool welcome for St Moritz
By Jessica Klingelfuss Published
Fluffy bunnies meet office politics in Nicolas Haeni’s photo series
To mark the Year of the Rabbit, we return down the rabbit hole of Swiss photographer Nicolas Haeni’s photography series, where mischievous bunnies infiltrate the humdrum of corporate life
By Harriet Lloyd-Smith Published
A’strict: the South Korean digital art collective bringing nature to urban life
As part of our Generation Generative series, we spotlight a’strict, the artistic unit of South Korean digital media design company d’strict, whose immersive art aims to bring viewers closer to nature
By SuhYoung Yun Published
The most surreal moments in Art Basel history, from taped bananas to wealth-ranking ATMs
As a wealth-ranking ATM stole hearts and headlines at Art Basel Miami 2022, we look back on the most controversial moments in the history of Art Basel
By Harriet Lloyd-Smith Published
Bruce Nauman’s Venice mega-show is a full body experience
Focusing on the American artist's performative 'Contrapposto Studies', Bruce Nauman's show at Punta della Dogana, Venice, gives new meaning to body language – on view until 27 November 2022
By Laura May Todd Published
Step inside the kaleidoscopic universe of Pipilotti Rist
Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist, who headlines Wallpaper’s November 2022 issue, has transformed the way we see, with a poetic yet playful practice spanning three decades. Here, and in a special portfolio, she reveals how she has liberated video art from its conventions, imbued the digital realm with emotion, animated public spaces, and harnessed the healing powers of colour
By Jessica Klingelfuss Last updated
Olivia Arthur on expanding photography and minimising preconceptions
‘Through the lens’ is our monthly series that spotlights photographers who are Wallpaper* contributors. Here we explore the vision of Magnum photographer Olivia Arthur
By Sophie Gladstone Last updated