Contour Biennale 8, curated by Natasha Ginwala considers an uncertain scenography in which we are urged to set up encounters as actors, agents and dissidents. Against the backdrop of Mechelen's historic role as a legal stronghold for medieval Europe, the curatorial approach engages an over 400-year old juridical past of the Great Council that first sought to address the Dutch, French and German territories through rational jurisprudence as a region. From the vestiges of Europe's first courthouse, what might it mean to survey the field of social justice and its implements as media archaeology such that justice itself is considered a “medium” that is simultaneously a performative, ethical and aesthetic operation.
The upcoming edition brings together over 20 international and local artists as well as art collectives working in lens-based media, sound, performance, drawing, installation, and publishing with newly commissioned and recent works spread across historic venues such as the city's first town hall and historic seat of the Great Council, the Schepenhuis, and contemporary sites in Mechelen, Belgium.
Contour Biennale 8 engages a polyphonic view, recalling the acoustic history of the Lowlands—a multiplicity of voices that become heard as a plural consciousness, and at times as states of discord. Setting a stage to question the preconceived boundaries between the perception of legality and illegality within today's experience of statehood, such a transaction may enable us to further develop formations of affinity and dissonance while enduring the very nature of contemporary judgement in a global community enmeshed within the bonds of neoliberal capital.
Hearings: An online journal
Hearings is the online journal of Contour Biennale 8, acting as a periodically updated resource tracing the artistic process, conceptual approach and historical research through textual as well as image and video-based contributions from a range of artists, filmmakers, thinkers and authors. Hearings is considered a polyphonic happening where established notions of representative truth and fiction, the nature of evidence and testimony, major and minor narratives of Modernity will become fundamentally destabilized.
The journal commences with anthropologist Elizabeth A. Povinelli's letter discussing the concept of toxic sovereignty through the intention and methodology of the Karrabing Film Collective's “Intervention Trilogy” as well as a special preview from Inhabitants as part of an episodic online project in collaboration with Contour Biennale 8. Inhabitants is an online channel for exploratory video and documentary reporting, launched in 2015 by the artists Mariana Silva and Pedro Neves Marques.
Theorist and author, Denise Ferreira da Silva and artist Judy Radul have been invited as advisors for Contour Biennale 8. They act as key dialogue partners in the curatorial process through the realm of artistic thinking, pedagogy and public discourse.