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Guatemalan artists participate in the 32nd. Edition of the Biennial of Graphic Arts Ljubljana

Posted on June - 27 - 2017

Photo Courtesy: International Centre of Graphic Arts

What could be an obvious connection between two countries as physically distant and culturally dissimilar as Slovenia and Guatemala? Besides the many that escape quick consideration, the answer, in this case, would be art! In this edition of the Biennial of Graphic Arts hosted in the city of Ljubljana in Slovenia, making it the oldest Biennale dedicated solely to printmaking, 4 Guatemalan artists were selected to participate and join the international group. The Biennale hosts this year its 32nd edition since its founding in 1955, the same year as Documenta, in a post-war Europe, which was affected by the strains that came with the implementation of the Iron Curtain. What was has set the Biennale apart and made it a beacon of culture not only in its country, but also in the region is its inclusion of artists from every corner of the globe, from the peripheries as well as from the mainstream, to engage.

This year proves no different. In the high of the art frenzy that took Europe by storm this year, the Biennial reformulated its structure, in a never-before attempt to break from the conventional selection process. The title of the exhibition Birth as Criterion is taken from the Slovene poet Jure Detela and as its subversive lines suggest, it calls more for rupture than for unity. In a bold act, the Biennale voluntarily stripped itself of the central figure of the curator and instead concocted other mechanisms for selection. The process invited the past winners of the Grand Prize from the Biennials to propose one artist, who in turn would select other artists and so on for five rounds until bringing in 30 participants.

Thus, Birth as Criterion presents a rhizomatic assembly of artists whose artworks interact freely and spontaneous between each other lead by the lines of Detela, stretching predefined concepts to set forth new dialogues among artists and spectators. One of the winners of previous years was Guatemalan artist Regina Jose Galindo (2011) who was one of the invited artists to commence the selection. Her choice started the chain that consists of some of the talented young artists that represent the new generation of contemporary artists in Guatemala. Galindo’s first choice was the preeminent architect Alejandro Paz, who conducted artists’ talk on the 5th of April where he exposed his work and methods to a European audience. Paz then selected artist and curator Gabriel Rodríguez who then proposed the photographer and artist Mario Santizo who concluded with artist Alberto Rodríguez Collía.

Artist Gabriel Rodriguez at work. Photo Courtesy: International Centre of Graphic Arts

The event opened its doors to the public the past June 16th and will continue to be on display until October 29th at the MGLC (Tivoli Mansion) and in the newly renovated Švicarija Creative Centre. As part of the agenda of the Biennale the winner of the last Biennial’s Grand Prize, Ištvan Išt Huzjan will show the continuation of his work at the Ljubljana City Art Museum, filmmaker Peter Gidal, winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award, will conduct a presentation and the local gallery Jakopič Gallery will hold a retrospective of Brazilian artist and printmaker Maria Bonomi.

The 32nd. Biennial of Graphic Arts of Ljubljana proves to be a different approach to the conception and execution of a major cultural event that shows nothing is set in stone and reinforces the integral part that art plays in society as a medium to challenge convention to create thought-provoking exhibitions. The presence of the talented Guatemalan artists undoubtedly added a fresh voice from a different part of the world and contributed to making the event dynamic and vibrant myriad of interactions and international exchange.

For more information be sure to access their web page and if you are in the area, be sure to check it out first handily!

By: Gabriela Martinez de la Hoz

Photo Courtesy: International Centre of Graphic Arts