What would European and North American collections look like if institutions, curators, and acquisitions committees didn’t continue to see the world through myopic visions? This year’s Berlin Biennale, titled “We Don’t Need Another Hero” (referencing Tina Turner’s iconic anthem), gives audiences a glimpse into what that might look like.
The biennale’s title reminds us that there is no need for a saviour to “correct” or redirect how we see art, and who we see in art. Art, and artists from the global south have been producing aesthetically and technically remarkable and politically astute work; this is just Germany’s chance to house it.
At the same time, Gabi Ngcobo, 2018’s biennale curator, and her team of co-curators Yvette Mutumba, Nomaduma Rosa Masilela, Moses Serubiri, and Thiago de Paula Souza stressed that the works in this biennale should not be read solely via the lens of post-colonialiality or race and identity politics. This is clearly not a loud, “Empire Strikes Back” kind of exhibition. At the same time, nothing about this biennale seems to be from a defensive standpoint, to preen and pose, be “extra”, or find it necessary to demonstrate that it is worthy. It is the stance for which Nigerian playwright Wole Soyinka argued, back in the 1960s, saying, “A tiger doesn’t proclaim its tigritude.” Read more