Biennials and large-scale periodic exhibitions constitute a sizeable part of the production and distribution system of artistic products, an instrument of the economic strategy of the world-wide cultural industry, and a vehicle for the development of cities. Moreover, it has by now been observed that in order to produce discourse, one has to place oneself within the distribution system, as the production of discourse outside the distribution system – which would, however, have an impact within the system – appears to be a conceptual impossibility. At the same time, though, the inclusion of discourse in the system of distribution makes the discourse itself mutate to the point that its impact is exhausted. There is therefore a need for the creation of a space where the desire to produce discourse will co-exist alongside the pragmatic observation of the general difficulty to resist the system of distribution.
The Athens Biennial aims to function within an international network of large-scale periodic contemporary art events, while providing the framework and the support for a variety of approaches. Porting the notion of ‘biennial’ with a full realization of its content, in an international landscape full of various propositions, the Athens Biennial intends to function as an agent of change and innovation, as a platform for creativity and dialogue, and as an observatory, which will include the elements of contemplation and elaboration of collective issues.
Athens is an ideal location for the institution of such an observatory, as it does not seem to ever coincide with the ceaselessly shifting borders between centre and periphery, a fact which provides an oversight of both the centre and the periphery.
The Athens Biennial aims to be a constant mechanism for the designation and the critical engagement of local artistic production, as well as a forum of discussion and exchange with the international scene. Moreover, it aims to be both an agent of cohesion for the local visual arts community and a factor of attraction within the international cultural landscape. In fact, the Athens Biennial conceives of these elements as indivisible, and therefore has been designed from the beginning as a structure that fulfils two parallel functions:
Firstly, it organizes a biennial contemporary art exhibition of international appeal. Secondly, through implementing AB Projects, like the bilingual online magazine a. the athens contemporary art review and the online radio station artwave radio, organizing smaller exhibitions, events and conferences, publishing books, and collaborating with other initiatives, it provides opportunities for the development of artistic production and critical thought.
The Athens Biennial is organized by the Athens Biennial – Non-Profit Organization.