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The thirteenth Berlin Biennale postponed to 2025

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The thirteenth edition of the Berlin Biennale, which was originally scheduled to take place in 2024, has been postponed for a full year over fears it could otherwise fall during what the German Cultural Foundation in a statement called a “biennial year great art”. Highlighting their own “pandemic-related organizational delays,” Biennale organizers noted: “Because other international biennales have also been postponed to 2024 due to the pandemic, competition for resources”, which will ultimately limit the capacities and availability of the Biennials taking place in 2024 include the Sixtieth Venice Biennale, organized by Adrian Pedrosa, the first Latin American person to organize the main exhibition of the legendary event; the Glasgow Tenth International; the fifteenth Gwangju Biennial; and the XVII Biennale de Lyon.

Launched in 1996, the Berlin Biennale took place for the last time in 2022. This edition, organized by the Franco-Algerian artist Kader Attiasets off controversial due to the inclusion of works by Jean-Jacques Lebel, in particular his photographs depicting the torture of inmates at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. The appearance of the works in the exhibition prompted the Iraqi writer Rijin Sahakian to write for art forum a public letter to the organizers of the Biennale. Entitled “Beyond Repairthe missive decried the posting of Lebel’s photos as exploitative.

“Images of leashes, electrocutions and gang rapes reinforce the long-standing representation of the Arab, the Iraqi, as an animal, both disposable and in need of control, on which one makes the war. This work has only reinforced and expanded those tactics,” Sahakian wrote. The letter was also signed by more than four hundred artists, including Raed Mutar, Sajjad Abbas and Layth Kareem. Attia responded, explaining that the Biennale’s curatorial team “felt it important not to give in to the urge to turn a blind eye to a very recent imperialist crime – a crime committed under military occupation that was quickly passed over silence with the intention of causing rapid oblivion,” noting that “this is how imperialism manufactures its impunity.” Shortly thereafter, Mutar and Abbas moved their own works of the Hamburger Banhof, where the offending photos were on display. Kareem’s video piece remained on display at the museum, but was displayed in another room.


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