Domesticated Generation | Operating on the outskirts of the system
While the majority of art fairs and biennials have a plethora of satellite, OFF and collateral events, it’s mainly taken as a given that these cannot exist independently from the main event itself. That’s just how the art world is.
With the opening of “Mediterranea 18, the Young Artist Biennale” this weekend, the organization Curate It Yourself, run by curators Jacques Heinrich Toussaint, Claudia Buizza and Pietro Della Giustina, have decided to tackle this very issue, which at its core affects young artists in particular, with their latest project Domesticated Generation.
The participating artists — Agreements to Zinedine - ATZ, lluc Baños, Isabella Benshimol & Mati Jhurry, Tasha Bjelic, Juan Caloca, Olivier Cheval, Bady Dalloul, Dor Zlekha Levy, Nøne Futbol Club, Jasmin Vardi, Zazzaro Otto, Zeytin Foundation — have all something in common: not only do they all tend to work on collaborative, hybrid projects, but they also serve as curators, managers and agents. Mostly of Mediterranean origin, these artists are looking to question the precarious working situation of young art world professionals.
Interviewed by H A P P E N I N G last year, the curatorial collective Curate It Yourself continues to challenge the art world’s power relationships. The Domesticated Generation project represents a reaction to the biennale system, whereby young artists and art world professionals still struggle to have their voices heard. As Pietro della Giustina points out, the projects is based on its very own lack of funds, and more generally “on the sacrifices that young professionals and artists have to face in order to participate in major events and to acquire a certain legitimacy, including unpaid internships in both public and private institutions, the lack of funds to produce and exhibit work as well as the utter lack of remuneration for young artists beyond funds covering production costs.”
Talk n.2 "Artistic and Curatorial Collectives", guests : Nøne Futbol Club and Exotic Embassy by Isabella Benshimol and Mati Jhurry
What better way to confront these issues than to exploit them, putting them at the heart of a project that the two curators have defined as a “parasite lacking autonomous life.” Through a mimetic process, the idea is to reproduce all aspects of the biennial — from the artworks themselves to performances, screenings and talks. The idea is to create a biennial within the biennial.
Whilst the art world may be considered to be an over-saturated environment Domesticated Generation strives to include the art world’s most disruptive actors: “I am not criticizing all the obstacles that the art world presents; things like specialization, a high level of education and previous experiences are fundamental to offer artistic and cultural events of a certain level. On the other hand, the interest in larger art centers is detrimental to decentralized events, whilst the skepticism towards innovative projects as well as a largely diffused cronyism within the system are responsible for discouraging younger innovators.”
Olivier Cheval, "The Museum is free", 12’03", 2015
In the face of such obstacles, Domesticated Generation presents a “tension between dependency and autonomy.” Curate it Yourself has employed a strategy similar to those of big multinationals such as Burger King and McDonald's, often opening branches next to each other. The artists invited by the curators act as “parasites” — they promote their event from within the biennial, distributing flyers and attracting the public. The objective of this “promotional campaign” is to have a direct contact with the public, and to convince them to follow thier activities independently from the context of the biennial.
“Once Domesticated Generation kicks off, we become autonomous and we follow our own program, showing artists that have worked with themes that interest us. The idea is to base the screening around the Biennial’s four key words — history, conflict, dream and failure — in order to re-activate the mimetic process and establish our parasitic system.”
Bady Dalloul, "Discussion Between Gentlemen", 9’30’’, 2016
Funding, or more precisely the lack thereof, is denounced by both the curators and the artists. Despite attempts by the organizers to obtain financing, the absence of funds is what triggered the idea for Domesticated Generation. The negotiations with various structures (including the hotel, the biennial and the suppliers) and the process of creation and production of the works are at the heart of their project. The participatory performances — including a food truck providing street food and a football tournament — allow Curate it Yourself to attract visitors and ask them to question their position within the “system.”
“If visitors support us, it’s because we have been able to convince them that it is necessary to help alternative projects like ours.”
Lluc Baños, "Interaccions", video – performance, 2013
Agreements to Zinedine - ATZ, "Z5 Futsal Tournament", mixed media, 2017
Curators: Pietro Della Giustina & Jacques Heinrich Toussaint