The October Salon

September 26, 2018 | Ana Simona

The biggest art event in Belgrade and all of Serbia is the Salon happening in October. Founded in 1960, with the idea of presenting the best contemporary art in Yugoslavia. Now, it is a biannual exhibition, with a different concept every time, created by foreign or Serbian curators and it presents contemporary art from all over the world.

This year’s Salon is curated by the curating couple from Rejkjavik, Island - Danielle and Gunnar Kvaran. The title is The Marvellous Cacophony, which already tells us a lot about the concept. The idea that curators had was to show all the different voices that exist in the world of art - to show diversity and richness in contemporary art. The curators give us insight into art production from the USA to China and Japan, from Norway to Africa. It is also inclusive regarding different backgrounds of the artist, from technical sciences to art history, and also the age of artists. While some are well known, almost legendary artist that are already part of the art history, like Cindy Sherman, Yoko Ono, Anselm Kiefer or Larry Bell, others are emerging stars of the art world, like Taiwanese artist Korakrit Arunanondchai or British artist Helen Marten.

What is also cacophonic about the exhibition is that it aims to show many different topics - it covers historical perspective, personal histories, politics, religion, spirituality, nature, and technology. Arunanondchai’s work speaks about UN nations, costs of peace and his relationship with history, Ono is traditionally concerned with gender topics and position of women but also pacifism and antiviolence, Murakami is speaking about Daruma the Great, a Buddhist monk from the 6th century in a very witty way, Velickovic is concerned with universal theme - human violent nature and metaphysical horror, and Anicka Yi analyses how art incorporates both technology and nature in order to stimulate all senses and erase those borders between organic and artificial.

These artworks are done in various materials and techniques, from the assemblage of Arunanonchai, Romuald Hazoume, ambients of Pamela Rosenkrantz, ambient installations of Fernanda Gomez, to installations of Anika Yi, Nina Jovanovic, Ivan Grubanov, Tobias Madison, the interactive art of Marie-Ange Guilleminot and Yoko Ono, and classical mediums like painting (Kiefer, Lidija Delic, Kazumi Nakamura, Larry Bell), drawings (Bjarne Melgaard, Vladimir Velickovic), and sculptures (Marguerite Humeau, Ivana Basic, Xu Zhen).

It seems like the curators succeeded in their goal to exhibit the variety of genres, approaches, philosophies, and tendencies in art today. The Belgrade Biennale is envisaged as a grand festival of diversity, as the meeting point between different sensibilities, different means of artistic expression, different universes, as a place for exchanges with the public, who will also be received in all its diversity. As curators said: ‘Art embellishes, moves, amuses, soothes, teaches, bear witness, explains, recounts, anticipates, alarms, surprises, questions, engages, contests, disturbs, polemicises, provokes, invents, experiments, dreams, acts.’ These verbs illustrate that we cannot expect anything specific from art, it always gives us a different sensation, and this exhibition shows that art today, more than anytime before, reflect the plurality and contradictions of the word we live in.

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