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Luleåbiennalen 2013 – X-border

Luleå Art Biennial, the world’s northernmost international art biennial, was started in 1991 by Kilen Art Group and so far there have been 14 international art biennials in Luleå, Sweden. The aim of the biennials has been to present contemporary international art to the public. This year, cooperation has begun between Luleå in Sweden, Rovaniemi in Finland, and Sevoromorsk in Russia, which has resulted in the X-border Art Biennial,19
June – 19 October 2013.

X-border Art Biennial has an open admission process, which creates opportunities to find the unexpected. Among the more than 500 proposals that have been submitted, nine curators have selected 39 works from Scandinavia, several other European countries, South America, North America, Asia and Africa. The members of this year’s jury were: Anatoliy Sergienko (RU), Christina Sikström (SE), Dan Lestander (SE), Dragana Vujanovic (SE), Esa Meltaus (FI), Ivan Voron (RU), Pilvi Keto-LeBlanc (FI), Svetlana Pavlova (RU) and Tom Engblom (FI). Three of the artists were specially invited by the Biennial’s cooperation partners: Iris Müller Westerman, (Moderna Museet, Stockholm) and Luis Perez-Oramas, (Bienal de São Paulo). After careful consideration and a process open to input from the curators, the works were then placed at exhibition sites in the different countries. This in order to highlight the expression and narrative of each work, both individually and in interaction with the other art pieces.

The artists exhibiting this year are: Alain James Martin (CA), Anders Sunna (SE), Ann Böttcher (SE), Antti Tenetz (FI), Arvid Hägg (SE), Barthélémy Toguo (CM), Brian Flynn (IE/CA), Carolina Falkholt (SE), Christine Candolin (FI), Claudia Chaseling (DE), David Molander (SE), Erika Kassnel-Henneberg (RO/DE), J Tobias Anderson (SE), José Luis Torres (AR/CA), Jouko Alapartanen (FI), Kaija Kiuru (FI), Karin Aurora Lindell (SE/NO), Kerstin Hamilton (SE), Lise Bjørne Linnert (NO), Luka Radojevic (RS/RU/IT), Maria Alina Staicu (RO), Mariva Zacharof (GR), Marion Denis (DE), Minna Rainio, (FI) & Mark Roberts (GB/FI), Miri Nishri (CO/IL), Nina Kurtela (HR/DE), Nina Maria Kleivan (NO/DK), Olga Chagaoutdinova (RU/CA), Olga Prokhorova (RU/FI), Patrik Qvist (SE), Ragnhild May (DK), Runo Lagomarsino (SE/BR), Steffen Köhn (DE) & Paola Calvo (VE/DE), Steffi Klenz (DE/GB), Strijdom van der Merwe (ZA), Tokio Maruyama (JP), Ulrica Beritsdotter (SE), Vera Arjoma (FI), Youssef Tabti (FR/DE).

The common theme for X-border Art Biennial 2013 has been “borders”. The exhibiting artists have interpreted the theme from different angels, using different techniques and forms of expression. The exhibition presents as many perspectives on the theme as there are artists, but there are also certain points of contact. Several of the works show strong political and social commitment, a will to visualize how major political processes influence the individual. Some have chosen to work from personal experience, while others have approached topics in the role of a mindful outside observer. There are also works which at a more existential level touch upon the subjective experience of being a human. Despite the common theme, individual expressions are central.

The exhibition forums of the Biennial have been The City Art Hall, Luleå, Norrbotten Regional Museum, Luleå, Gallery Valo & Katve, Rovaniemi, Gallery Napa, Rovaniemi, Café Kauppayhtiö, Rovaniemi, The Exhibition Hall of the Town of Severomorsk, the Web gallery on the website of the Biennial and several outdoor sites in the three towns. The invited artists have displayed their works in one of the towns, at the same time as works have been produced that reached across national borders. The theme “borders” has also inspired us who have worked on producing the Biennial to find new ways to make the exhibition visible and coherent. Therefore, at the exhibition forums, there have been virtual windows in forms of digital screens. Via them, visitors have been given an opportunity to view the exhibition halls in each country and to communicate with visitors in these art galleries. It has also been possible to invite friends from all over the world to personally show them the exhibition via iPad.

A central part of the Biennial has been that through pedagogical work make the exhibitions accessible to children and young people. To highlight interesting issues and thoughts that have arisen in relation to the Biennial, visitors have been given the possibility to attend seminars and workshops during the exhibition period. There — artists, visitors and educators together have reflected on the theme of the Biennial from different perspectives.

We would like to warmly thank all those who have worked with X-border Art Biennial: Curators, the Advisory Board, Marie Douglas, personnel at Kilen Art Group, Lapland University, the Centre for Sociocultural Technologies in Severomorsk, The City Art Hall in Luleå, Norrbotten Regional museum in Luleå, Gallery Napa — which is run by the Artists’ Association of Lapland, Gallery Valo & Katve run by Lapland University, Café Kauppayhtiö, The Exhibition Hall of the Town of Severomorsk, Luleå Municipality Department of Streets and Traffic and Parks and Nature, Rovaniemi Municipality, all the volunteers and the personnel of New Horizon and the project coordinators ARRA AB. A big thanks goes also to our financiers, the European Union through the Kolarctic Programme ENPI CBC, Luleå Municipality, the Arts Council, Norrbotten County Council, the County Administrative Board in Norrbotten County, Lapland University Faculty of Art and Design, Regional Council of Lapland and the Centre for Sociocultural Technologies and to our sponsor Quality Hotel. Above all we would like to thank all the artists who through their art have given new meaning to our borders.

X-border Art Biennial is a cooperation project between Luleå Art Biennial / Kilen Art Group, Luleå, Sweden, Lapland University, Rovaniemi, Finland and the Centre for Sociocultural Technologies, Severomorsk, Russia. The Biennial is part of the New Horizon Project which is run by Norrbotten County Council.

Dan Lestander, Project manager, Luleå
Maria Huhmarniemi & Leila Lipiäinen, Project managers, Rovaniemi
Olga Shevchenko, Project manager, Severomorsk