White House Biennial (WHB)
The Biennial of the Middle East Countries.
Finding a temporal asylum in Athens (2010), the expatriated Biennial of Middle East, most known as the White House Biennial (WHB) is a nomadic series of cultural events that travel in different countries. Its partial or extended activities are hosted through a variety of forms and disguises in museums, international exhibitions, biennales and a wide array of other cultural events around the world, in accordance to the notion of displacement and fleeing that characterizes the disordered regions and war zones in the Middle East countries located at the eastern coasts of Mediterranean
Questioning the revolutionary role of art and its power to affect sociopolitical changes the White House Biennial (WHB) opens artists's access to the White House, while being at their home!!!
...Mr. President, you can interact now with art and artists, having immediate access to their projects, thoughts and ideas, while sitting comfy in your office...
image above: You should facilitate the German flag to flaunt, Nicos Charalambidis, 2013
Animation by Txuspo Poyo with the collaboration of Orlando Britto Jinorio for the White House Biennial
WHB’s initial appearance has been developed in the form of an online biennial, establishing an interactive international platform, an online agora of communication and artistic exchange for contemporary artists from across the globe. Taking into consideration the practical difficulties of the artists living in war zones to travel abroad, the WHB initiated this “house to House” domestic version of biennial. Thus the participants could not only interact by each other while being at their home, but also have the opportunity to set up their works in the rooms of the White House, through an instinctive 3D web interface designed exclusively to make available access and a 3D tour in the White House of United States, emphasizing, by this way, the critical role of USA in the political situation of the Middle East area.
The WHB consisted actually the 1st online biennial, launched in Athens in 2010. Apart the digital-on line platform, a series of exhibitions, workshops, performances and other interdisciplinary activities were organized by the WHB on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Republic of Cyprus, under the general title: Design Your House and Furniture in a way that could serve the Revolution. The notions of House/Home/Homeland and the idea that ‘revolutions’ should be initially integrated in our domestic environment, within our everyday way of living, are the fundamental topics that run the entire program of WHB’s activities. A selection of the events has been included un a full colored, 454 pages, edition that has been presented in Palais de Tokyo on 25thFebruary 2013.
The refugee problem, as shaped by the constant conflicts in Middle East has been the focus and thematic axis since 2010 of the WHB. Through the promotion of the cultural character of the Middle East countries and the development of a creative dialogue between artists coming from war zones with renowned artists from the international community, the biennial tackles themes of war, identity and the necessity of the establishment of peace and democracy. In the city of Athens, where Democracy was born, at a time of deep financial and ethical crisis, amongst the intractable refugge problem, the dozens of demonstrations and austerity protests, the WHB, poses the crucial question of the redefinition and remodeling of democratic principles.
WHB’s interpretation to the term “biennial” is different than the others biennials, since it invites the participating artists to a full program of activities, the length of which is being extended within the whole duration of two years. During this period the artists are in the process of starting up a variety of collaborative projects and interdisciplinary events that are being presented through the online platform and also in international exhibitions, museums, biennials and alternative spaces.
The general title of the WHB activities: Exercises on Democracy and its thematic subsections and editions, seek to to explore the politics embedded in our everyday way of living, in our surrounded environment and buildings or even in the most mundane of objects and the politics of body. WHB puts into practice the idea that Democracy must also be part of our everyday reality. Without active citizens and their effective contribution to the common good the legitimacy of Democratic institutions will continue to decline. Our political culture perpetuates the myth that strong leaders can handle alone the crucial sociopolitical problems of our society ....
Olaf Nicolai, 3D installation view in the Oval Office for "The Red and White Flag Project"
When I was young, I wanted to change the world, growing up in our critical times I got wiser, I realize that I should start changing myself first, my house and furnishing, my everyday way of living; on top of all my aesthetics.
Aesthetics is the human perception of beauty. By promoting artistic activism and socially engaged interventional works, the WHB seeks for artists whose ideas and approach could exercise considerable influence on the aesthetic position of the White House, the American Abbey of Democracy. Artists who could irrefutably reshape President’s perception about his office and house interior. Should we argue that certain spatial aesthetics could create crucial conditions for the decisions we take? Exceeding our mood and emotions, can they affect deeper our spirituality, consciousness, or even our ethics? Is it possible that a small household can comprise a small fortification of everyday resistance to the razing bourgeois power of the contemporary globalized civilization? Can it be the idiotype of a gym for our daily practice of those mechanisms that hold us alert? Are a subversive routine and an alternative lifestyle indispensable conditions for achieving general radicalness in social change? Is it possible that our house itself is indeed the beehive of revolt?
At our troubled times, when everyone feels the necessity to go out and shout - joining forces with the rest of the protesters in the crowded streets - the WHB gives the possibility to the participants, coming from a wide range of disciplines, to express even their very personal fears and believes, to exchange ideas and demonstrate their opinions and demands, directly from their own houses. Contemplating the virtue of silence, the WHB could be considered as the first DOMESTIC BIENNIAL, operating as an online Greek Agora that enacts from house to House dialogical platforms and networks to communicate with each other but also with the House of the American Democracy. Artists through this amazing democratic arena of building metaphors and poetics, can inspire and advocate people making decisions and hopefully politicians and the government, offering new perspectives, help them practice different behaviors with each other, or have us all experiment with how we might be a better society. An online Agora, like WHB can help pave the way to new forms of communication for the future...
Domestic Agora(click here)
Red river and mountain, Misinterpretations of the Archive series, 2010, Nicos Charalambidis