Biennale de La Biche is the smallest contemporary art biennale in the world. For its first edition, Alex Urso and Maess Anand, the project’s founders and curators, have selected fourteen artists from all over the world. Although differing from one another, each participant was asked to conceive an artwork able to coexist with the environment of the location: the enchanting Caribbean island of Ilet de La Biche.
The title chosen for the 2017 edition is In a land of. This sentence, suspended and imprecise, wants to be a suggestion, an incentive to grasp the essence of the island as a geographically isolated place, but above all, a spot distant from all the limits and conventions of the contemporary art system. Moreover, the location is a transitory place, because it is slowly disappearing: due to the rising sea levels, the island is in fact gradually submerging, and in a few decades, it is destined to disappear.
The artist has been, therefore, invited to interpret the concept of a non-place, elaborating a work that can reflect the transience of time and absolute insecurity to which the island is currently subjected. Thus, the artworks themselves are no longer becoming monumental and durable fragments in the time line of art history, but fragile elements that decay, following the limits of the world they belong to.
The fact is, that the art world is full of art biennales, with more than 150 events spread around the world. However, a biennale on a remote, uninhabited island in the Caribbean Sea, a few dozen square meters in area, is an unheard of alternative.
Ilet La Biche resembles an apparition, enchanting by definition – with an extraordinary and colorful marine life – that even in being so far and excluded by the dynamics of the world, it outlines with disarming directness the impact of the dramatic climate changes taking place on the planet. Because similar to Venice, but in a much less of a romantic and spectacular dimension, Ilet La Biche is a place bound to disappear. Gradually submerging under the sea level, the island – priceless pearl of the Antilles – is destined to become a memory of itself.
In this perspective, certainly dramatic but also somehow very evocative, the zero edition of the Biennale de la Biche is conceived as an artistic event that has its very meaning in its own caducity. Each work, installed in the restricted and authentic facilities of the island, is called to integrate itself in the local space, becoming, therefore, part of the dynamics of the site and destined, ultimately, to perish. Inundated with water, by rain, ruined by time, each artwork will have a beginning (at the time of its on-site installation), and an imperceptible ending. Within a few weeks, only a vestige of the works will most likely remain.
Thus, each artist included in the Biennale has been suggested to conceive a small-scale exhibition project, not invasive in any way to the surrounding environment. The aim is to perceive the island as a temporary and vanishing location, which brings into discussion a multiplicity of meanings that this sense entails. Ilet La Biche is a place that is geographically isolated, difficult to reach, visited by few dozen visitors (and a few hundred turtles) throughout the year. But above all, it is a place that evokes unusual dynamics for the contemporary art system, panting from the tightened visual rhythms and from an overproduction of images.
In turn, the Biennale de La Biche becomes a breath, an insertion cut among the bends of the contemporary art scene. The artist, in the same way, becomes an intruder, who gently relates himself to the natural environment, realizing the fragilty of the artistic element and, ultimately, of his own function.