The art event − the central theme of the 29th Biennial of Graphic Arts − underwent a remarkable development in the 20th century and appears to this day as a privileged medium of expression. It is carried out by various protagonists within the field of contemporary visual art, in a wide range of forms. In the main exhibition, which sought to outline the energy and vitality of this trend of art events as fully as possible, a selection of art events was presented in four different groups, based on themes that are typical for contemporary art: generosity, violence, emptiness and the quest for the sacred and the ritualistic. These topics were also explicitly chosen because the events that deal with them also met the requirement of not being something new, neither in terms of their artistic iconographic motifs nor in terms of actual human or social practice. Events, in which we can with impunity partake in violence, in “shamanistic” violence to oneself, in Dionysian or absurdist ritual, or in the establishment of an idyllic communitas that shares a common meal are, indeed, activities that have been practised and even depicted for millennia.
With its main exhibition, as well as the extensive programme of artistic and theoretical events, the Biennial posed the pertinent questions: Why and how has the event become a suitable vehicle for a variety of artistic purposes, poetics and content? Is the choice of this medium a response to specific impulses and voids in our “desacralised” everyday existence? What are the potential dangers of such a development, given that it is happening more and more in the completely formalised framework of art institutions, which in recent decades not only house and exhibit contemporary art, but also commission and produce it? Thus, they have become commissioners of contemporary art of a similar type and scope as were once the aristocracy and the church.
Fifty-nine projects were presented in the main exhibition Event (nineteen on the theme of generosity, twenty-one on the theme of violence, nine on the theme of ritual and ten on the theme of emptiness). Eighteen artistic and seven theoretical events were held (marathon, symposium and five artist talks).
* Due to the specific concept of this Biennial, the artworks were generally not newly commissioned, but the artists participated by performing existing works or works especially adapted for Ljubljana.