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Sweet Taboos: A Mini Tirana Biennale in New York

291 Church Street, 212-431-5270
Tribeca / Downtown
May 24 - June 1, 2006
Reception: Wednesday, May 24, 6 - 8 PM
Web Site

Curated by Edi Muka

Participating artists: Adel Abdessemed, Ivan Grubanov, Sejla Kameric, Armando Lulaj, Suela Qoshja, Joanna Rytel, IngridMwangiRobertHutter

What happens to inhibitions in today’s swell of globalization? Does the old Polynesian term “taboo” still have meaning, or have such notions disappeared in the “everything goes” drive of global Capital? Is this overwhelming drive actually the biggest taboo of our time? To what extent do the power structures of our society differ from those of the past, and is history still relevant?

These and many other questions were at the center of our quest to find collaborators when we conceived the third edition of the Tirana Biennale in Albania. As the five consecutive exhibitions that composed the Biennale unfolded, we witnessed how the poetry of art and contemporary artistic operation dealt with such issues by focusing on practices of re-appropriation rather than their mere critique. The selection made for this “Mini-Tirana Biennale” presented at apexart includes the work of seven artists that participated in the exhibitions of the last Tirana Biennale. However, when dealing with such socio-politically loaded subjects, one has to be aware of the real potential of art and avoid coming up with a tacky display of art works. We tried to identify elements of an ambiguous nature that are found in the juxtaposition of “civilization” and “barbarisms” of obscure and open character, that deal with legality and abuse, and that can be emancipating and conservative. This consisted of a voyage to the edge of theological and ideological narratives, of delirious utopia and icy pragmatism, social hypocrisy and moralism. The artists adopting a wide variety of techniques, viewpoints, and concepts tried to transmit different mentalities, ideas, perceptions and challenges through their works, all motivated by the temptation to experience the triumph and the fear, the freedom and the anxiety of freedom, indifference and veneration and everything else related to the temptation of violating the border of the taboo.

The works in this exhibition offer a testimony to engaged artistic practice that provides us with examples of what could be considered some of our contemporary taboos, and how they relate to both our history and to our present condition. They equip us with a repertory of tactics to artistically deal with taboos, and demonstrate how art can be a tool with which to respond to our rapidly changing global socio-political landscape.
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