Area Outside / Artistic Bialowieza

Area Outside : Artistic BialowiezaWe are pleased to present the Area Outside exhibition from 28th July to 7th August. Opening : 27th July 2017

The exhibition Artistic Bialowieza, curated by Michaël Branchu and coordinated by Olga Aleszko and Veronica Laputska (EAST Research Center) in cooperation with the Belarusian House, encompasses the work of selected international artists:

Zuza BanasińskaMichaël BranchuFrançois BriandGeneviève Cadieux-LangloisGuillaume Jezy & Jérémy KnezAdam Żądło

“This was the order of human institutions: first the forests, after that the huts, then the villages, next the cities, and finally the academics.” ~Giambattista Vico, The New Science

Area Outside is a creative project initiated by an experience of immersion in the Bialowieza forest. Based along the Polish-Belarusian border, this UNESCO World Heritage Site and Europe’s last primary forest will be the place of investigation for seven visual artists of different nationalities. Over a period of three weeks, they will collaborate to conceive individual and collective projects. The exploratory period will culminate in the exhibition «Artistic Bialowieza» at the Belarusian House in Warsaw on 27 July – 7 August 2017.

As an artist residency, Area Outside is anchored in global research exploring the relationship between the practice of contemporary art and the idea of site specificity. During the second half of the 20th century the concept of “site” emerged. In pursuit of independence, artists begin to embed their works in a setting, context or environment. This novel characteristic of artistic production unfolded in innovative actions (either formal or conceptual), setting in motion the crisis of the existent definition of an artwork, eliminating the context of the space of a gallery or museum. Through these experiments, artists of the time turned to institutional critique, exploring new grounds of theoretical and formal research. However, over the past 30 years, we have observed the normalization of these practices, their appropriation by institutions and art markets, thus annihilating their initial subversive character. What does it mean to reinstate site-specific creation into the contemporary era?

The forest appears in our imagination as a self-balancing zone, a space of transformation and potentialities. At the same time, as an ecosystem the forest is a substantial field of intellectual investigation, encompassing different areas of knowledge (scientific research, economic, political and environmental issues). Nevertheless, it remains a natural observatory whose logic still lies beyond our grasp. The idea of a site has evolved: it was affected by exterior circumstances as for example economic dynamics. How can we, in these conditions, define a site? The forest embodies a zone of resistance, an escape, a vanishing point. What does it mean to approach the forest as a site?

The project Aera Outside is a Polish-Belarusian-French project, which won the 2016-2017 NCG Cooperation Award. The project also receives grants from the Academy of Fine Arts of Nantes, the Regional Delegation of Loire-Atlantique (France), and LOGIQ in Canada.

A printed edition by Elise Hallab, based on this project, will be published in 2018.

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