THE ELEVENTH EDITION OF THE GÖTEBORG INTERNATIONAL BIENNIAL FOR CONTEMPORARY ART
The eleventh edition of the Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art was conceived in response to the 400-year anniversary of the founding of the city of Gothenburg. The biennal opened in June at Röda Sten Konsthall to coincide with the anniversary of Gothenburg’s founding, and in September at Göteborgs Konsthall and further venues and public spaces throughout the city.
Franska Tomten (currently Packhusplatsen), a plot of land in the city’s harbor that in 1784 was exchanged for the Caribbean island of Saint Barthélemy as part of a trade deal between Sweden and France, is used as the narrative point of departure for the biennial. How might it change the way we think about Gothenburg if we look at the city from the perspective of this particular plot of land and its colonial history?
Until the 1840s, Saint Barthélemy was governed by a Swedish administration as a hub for the transatlantic slave trade. In 1878 it was sold back to France. Reflecting on this history through the buildings and activities that occupy Franska Tomten today — a court of law situated in a former shipping palace, a casino, and a museum of migration housed in the harbor’s historical customs house — the past is made visible as an ongoing present. The interrelated flows of goods, bodies, capital, and ideology connected to the site span centuries and geographies: just as the writing of law is historically bound up with regulations of international trade, the global circulation of capital is directly connected to contemporary routes of migration.
Through the artworks, the biennial traces this plot outwardly from Gothenburg Harbor to where it meets other places, voices, and histories. Taking the form of a polyvocal and multi-sited narration, it suggests that a city founded on transnational relationships can only become legible by looking at other places as well.
The artists at Göteborgs Konsthall are Erika Arzt and Juan Linares, Unni Gjertsen, Salad Hilowle, Conny Karlsson Lundgren, Fatima Moallim, Jonas (J) Magnusson and Cecilia Grönberg, and Lisa Tan.
Konsthallen Blå Stället, Göteborgs Konsthall, Franska Tomten, Museum of World Culture, The Garden Society of Gothenburg, Röda Sten Konsthall, Risö, online & offsite.