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Zacatecas centro (view from La Bufa), We were never contemporary, 2018. Courtesy 13th FEMSA Biennial

Ex templo de San Agustín, We were never contemporary, 2018. Courtesy 13th FEMSA Biennial

Primer módulo del programa pedagógico, We were never contemporary, 2018. Courtesy 13th FEMSA Biennial

13th FEMSA Biennial "We Were Never Contemporary"


Rocio Cardenas Pacheco

Since its foundation in 1992, the FEMSA Biennial has been evolving and adapting to changes in the artistic scene, not only in the city where it originated (Monterrey, Nuevo León) in the Mexican northeast, but also expanding to other territories in Latin America. Today, the Biennial is in its 13th edition which began in September of 2017. The new curatorial program will be based on a central theme: Latin American art. The Mexican city of Zacatecas is the host of the 13th FEMSA Biennial (From September, 2017 to February, 2019).

The model proposed by the Biennial's artistic director, Willy Kautz, consists of a process that will try new museological, pedagogical, and editorial methodologies aimed at finding a collaborative model that generates, in partnership with the cultural institutions of Zacatecas, a dialogue between the local cultural context and the global contemporary art scene. Under the title "We Were Never Contemporary," in reference to the book Nous n'avons jamais été modernes (We Were Never Modern, 1991) by Bruno Latour, the Biennial proposes a revision of history and its developing processes.

The 13th FEMSA Biennial proposes an exhibition program that reinterprets the role of biennials as places in which to showcase contemporaneity and focuses on artistic practices that revise historical themes as well as popular, baroque, colonial, and modern artistic languages. The Biennial program is divided into five themes: 1) Museological Collaborations: mountings, in collaboration with the participating museums, based on the explorations of a single work or historical collection, the establishment of dialogues between institutional collections, the rewriting of exhibition texts, and the commission of artistic work. 2) Public Space Interventions: artistic commissions in historically important or tradition-rich sites and places characterized by their presence in the daily life of the locals. 3) Pedagogical Program; divided in two sections, one open to the general public and based on talks and workshops given by guest artists; and the other, directed to the local artistic community, consisting of theoretical seminars with curators, historians, and academics, as well as workshops given by experts in the area of artistic and pedagogical mediation. Participants in the latter will be selected through a call. 4) Editorial Program: through the use of various editorial supports, several new layers will be added to the narrative model of superimpositions of the 13th FEMSA Biennial, connecting the entire curatorial program with the different publics and strengthening the historical revisions. 5) Public Program: a symposium will take place in November of 2018 under the title "Biennials in Latin America.

The activities of the 13th edition of the FEMSA Biennial currently underway as part of the second module of the pedagogical program will take place on five different dates for the sessions and the workshops entitled "Reflexive Generosity: Experimental Pedagogies," throughout the entire year of 2018.

For more information about the Biennial's program visit: Team: Willy Kautz (artistic director), Gabriela Correa (executive director), Daniel Garza-Usabiaga (curator), Nicolás Pradilla (editorial curator), Eric Nava (associate curator), Fernando Salcedo (curatorial assistant), Eduardo Müller (administration), Guadalupe Salcedo (communication and design). Collaborators: Alfonso López-Monreal and Plinio Ávila.



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