Xenia Kalpaktsoglou addresses attendees (sorry there's no zoom on my smart phone!)
In addition to all the artwork scattered throughout Grand Rapids, there's a schedule full of different artist talks, a speaker series, workshops and educational events as part of ArtPrize. Tonight I attended a talk by Xenia Kalpaktsoglou, who a co-director and curator of the Athens Biennale. Her talk was "The XYZ of the Athens Biennale: Appropriating the Notion of the Biennale Exhibition and Engineering the Dynamics."
I arrived a few minutes after the talk started and was directed to the overflow speaker series area on the main floor of "the Hub," instead of being allowed to tip-toe upstairs to the actual room and stand in the back. They were just trying to get the ustream.com feed working properly when I walked into the space and luckily for me the sound wasn't working and I went upstairs after all. I secretly believe they just wanted to make use of their Herman Miller furnished overflow area, as when I got upstairs there were still a number of empty chairs near the back. I was so able to slink in the back without causing a distraction.
Anyway, the talk was interesting in in terms of hearing about another major art exhibition, albeit one that takes place every two years rather than our baby ArtPrize which is a yearly gig. The most recent was titled Heaven and include six different individually curated exhibitions with 150 artists and 300 works of art in total. It was open to the public for 115 days and had a 10 Euro admission fee. Compare that to ArtPrize which is an open contest rather than curated (although some venues are individually curated) and this year has 192 venues and 1713 pieces by just as many artists. It was interesting to hear a bit about another city doing something different focusing on art in a major way. We are very fortunate to have ArtPrize in Grand Rapids. I believe it puts us on the map with some major league players in the world art community. The Athens Biennale is now in the planning phase for its third exhibition, which will happen in 2011.
While this wasn't a typical ArtPrize night of being out and seeing more new art, I wanted to make it to at least one talk and am happy I did. The ArtPrize speakers series and educational talks are a great way to learn new things - I never knew about the Athens Biennale before reading about it on the ArtPrize events calendar and now I know even more. Oh, and there was a bit of swag on each seat just for attending! Made it all the more worthwhile!