The theme of this edition will be the monument, or rather that radical process of de-monumentalisation which has freed sculpture from any celebratory, encomiastic function. The monument has been the emblem of power, the tool of mass homologation, but also the catalyst of patriotic values and an irreplaceable building-block in the construction of collective memory. It became a fundamental target of revolts and revolutions, and was then eliminated with the application of the ideals of democracy and freedom of our times.
However in the flexible, ever-changing scenario of today's society, in a turn-of-the-century atmosphere perhaps heralding the actual end of history as we know it, the old values and materials can sometimes be seen to re-emerge alongside the contemporary iconoclasm. Will we once again identify ourselves with monuments?
The town of Carrara, where Michelangelo and Canova once came for their marble, and whose history is linked to both marble quarrying and processing, is at present suffering from the loss of centrality of this raw material in the art world. The local context thus becomes a mirror of those cracks in the production system of the whole western world, and the contact with this real situation provides inspiration for the artists invited to the exhibition.
The choice of the locations, old sculpture laboratories and other abandoned buildings in the centre of town, where the signs of time and neglect are evident, immerses us even further in that dimension of disorientation which is a leitmotif of the whole exhibition.
In the exhibition, the theme is introduced by some historical examples of late 19th and early 20th century monumental production, from Leonardo Bistolfi to Fausto Melotti. These stand alongside models of statues from the Fascist period and Soviet and Chinese socialist realism. The central part of the exhibition is the group of works by more than thirty contemporary artists of various nationalities, most of whom will be creating projects specifically for the exhibition:
Carl Andre, Giorgio Andreotta Calò, Huma Bhabha, Rossella Biscotti, Monica Bonvicini, Carlos Bunga, Cai Guo-Qiang, Valentin Carron, Maurizio Cattelan, Marcelo Cidade, Nemanja Cvijanović, Sam Durant, Urs Fischer, Yona Friedman, Cyprien Gaillard, Antony Gormley, Thomas Houseago, Daniel Knorr, Terence Koh, Liu Jianhua, Paul McCarthy, Yerbossyn Meldibekov and Nurbossyn Oris, Ohad Meromi, Gustav Metzger, Deimantas Narkevicius, Kristina Norman, Damián Ortega, Santiago Sierra, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Kevin van Braak, Yelena Vorobyeva e Viktor Vorobyev, Gillian Wearing, Artur Żmijewski
The themes of the Biennale are then extended to a programme of initiatives which will run parallel to the exhibition itinerary throughout the opening period. These will stretch to architectural aspects, performance cycles and workshops.