Travel with The Biennial Project in The Way Back Machine

artforum artInAmerica artNews PolicyRev

Hey artists and art lovers out there. Don’t know how the weather is where you are, but here in Boston we’re snowed in again, and the excitement of snow days at home in our jammies is starting to wear off. So for fun we thought we’d pass the time recollecting past triumphs and sharing them with you.

One of our favorites is this review of The Biennial Project written just after we formed by noted critic, writer and curator Clea Saharoli. It’s rare to have a person of that renown just totally “get” what you’re doing – but with this review “Why The Biennial Project Matters”, Ms Saharoli does just that. But don’t believe us, read it for yourselves!


The Biennial Project, a dynamic new collective body of work by artists Eric Hess, Charlene Liska, Laura Rollins, and Anna Salmeron, takes off from one elegantly simple organizing principle. Four mid-career visual artists (The Biennial Project artists, playing themselves), feeling that their work merits greater acclaim, set out on a pilgrimage to discover the secrets to success at the top levels of the art world.

Drawing upon the phenomenon of prestigious national and international biennial exhibits, and their role within the art world in determining which artists will be granted global recognition, near celebrity status and high commodity values for their art, as well as the nearly universal desire by artists to have the opportunity to exhibit at such venues, the Project provides a metaphorical vehicle to explore the underlying dynamics of who gets validation from the art world apparatus and why, at the same time addressing the artist’s internal dialectic between expected and achieved success in external and personal universes.

Moving on two planes simultaneously, unmasking both the appeal and the hollowness of success in an arena often dominated by players with a financial stake in promoting their own artist and venues, the project is an exhilaratingly gonzo field trip into the internal landscape of the artistic consciousness.

Taking advantage of the substantial charisma and performative abilities of member artists, as well as their unique chemistry as a working group, the collective produces a body of work that succeeds in simultaneously identifying with and mocking the grasping aspirationalism and bewildered sense of unfulfilled entitlement underlying much artistic endeavor today. Creative people everywhere will recognize themselves in the collective’s deadpan portrayal of the misadventures of our four crusaders as they attempt to scale to the peaks of the art world.

The Biennial Project member artists are part of a generation of global artists whose aesthetic identities transcend simplistic categorization. While clearly referencing the development of art in the post modern period, the body of work they have created wears its citations lightly. The aesthetic vocabulary and narrative strategy it adopts have an uncanny command of idiom, and succeed in making surprising connections between seemingly disparate ideas and media.

The Biennial Project has an intentionally breezy tongue in cheek quality that could not have existed without the example of the currently de-rigueur post-modern ironic detachment. But by folding post-modernism’s disjunctive effect back onto the unvarnished ambition of its group of earnest pilgrims, the Project elicits a frisson between its inherent irony and the sincerity and desire of purpose that lie beneath - and as such represents a reinvigoration of the expressive potential of post-modernism.

By adapting conventions of advertising signage and promotion, and by harnessing the associative power of corporate branding as a way to promote the agenda of the project, they raise the question of where the line lies between acceptable ‘fine art” self-promotion and embarrassing hucksterism. They succeed in deftly appropriating popular vernacular associated with “reality” programming in which contestants, often with no special skills or accomplishments, vie for fame and fortune - the prize here is art world success – with the quest at turns poignant and ridiculous.

But rather than devolving into a meditation on life’s inevitable disappointments, the Project artists create a dazzling deconstruction of the myth of the self made artist. Determined to raise themselves up by their portfolio straps, they present an ironic take on the ever-resonant American success myth – that if one bangs hard enough on the door to success, and persists at all turns with an undoubting and simple-minded positivism, like the little engine that could – in the end one will be rewarded with success. With squirm-inducing directness they implicate the viewer and force their audience to confront it’s own complex set of motivations and desires vis-à-vis art world success – thereby allowing no safe viewing distance from which to objectify our hopeful crusaders and their relentless “It’s About Us” mantra.

This rhetorical strategy also deconstructs an impulse that is central to the history of minimalist and conceptual art – the desire to make art in such a way as to reduce or erase the finger print of the individual artist. Standing this convention on its head, the Project deliberately plays to and with the personas of its four member artists. In this context, telling idiosyncrasies and autobiographical references resonate with irresistible particularity.

As one follows the infectious high-jinks of this band of merry pranksters “acting in the gap between art and life” (a la Robert Rauschenberg), mining ideas from high and low art and appropriating them to the service of their cause, one realizes the extent of their accomplishment. They have fashioned a deceptively simple construct which manages to collapse the conventional dichotomy between art and commerce into a new genus, and with this paradigmatic shift have succeeded in locating The Biennial Project at precisely the nerve center of the current zeitgeist. With their finger firmly on the pulse of art-making today, their work is uniquely relevant – addressing several of the core questions confronting artists and their supporters at this historical juncture. Bravo!

Clea Saharoli, September 2008  


Thanks. Clea, we couldn’t have said it better ourselves!!!

Global Biennialism Digest January 2011

Hi Fans! Welcome to the third installment of Global Biennialism Digest – the feature  in which we search far and wide for the most up-to-the minute info about the coolest Biennial Exhibits out there,  and provide links related to submission opportunities, exhibition dates, and interesting biennial reviews, as well as fun sites that delve into the biennialism phenomenon.

We Love letters from our readers, especially ones with suggestions on how to improve our Biennial Coverage. We reicieved a letter from Luciana Capuano Massine from Brazil as to why we did not cover The San Paulo Biennial 10 which was going on at the very moment I was writing the last update .We would love to cover each and every Biennial but that would require way too much time and focus. This is not a comprehensive report and our mind flies in many different directions being that we are world renown artists and all. Luciana, we at The Biennial Project would love to hear your impression of the San Paulo Biennial if you had a chance to see it. Seriously!! The same goes to all our fans. If you happen to catch a biennial, big or small tell us what you thought of it and maybe, just maybe we will include you in future Global Biennial Digests. We look forward to hearing from you!!!

Back to our report!!!!!

Going RIGHT NOW until the end of February is The 8th Shanghai Biennale. I would give you the link but it does not seem to be working. I read here why from Lauren Mack who is a freelance journalist located in Taipei.

‘It appears the Shanghai Biennale’s official website has been temporarily blocked worldwide (presumably by Chinese authorities who have been cracking down on artists recently. Over the weekend artist Ai Weiwei was put under house arrest, which prevented him from attending an event at his gallery in Shanghai). Once the website is back up, I will post a note on the Blog. The links I have here will once again work once the Shanghai Biennale’s official site is back online. I apologize for the inconvenience this may have caused.

This really seems to suck big time!!

Anyhow this biennale asks the question of who is controlling the direction economically and politically of contemporary art? Is it the artists or the Art Market? In China it appears to be the ruling government. We at the Biennial project wish we had finished our submission for the Shanghai's Biennale on time because questions of controls the art world is what we want to know Whose ass should we really plant our ruby red lips on? Maybe in some manner we have already contributed to this dialogue. Here is an interesting article we found of an interview of a BANK involved in this Biennale.

Such an interesting interview for a Biennial that is being held in a communist country which denies freedom of expression but uses the free market for economic profitability!!! Maybe its time too put down the chopsticks and stick them with our forks.

If you want to see really big art in a really big way be sure to check out The Texas Biennial, which is a project of Big Medium (cute) a non-profit based in Austin. All of the artists were chosen from Texas, the home state of Biennial Project member and world renowned Art Rock Star Laura Rollins (currently residing in Greenwich, CT). This Biennial is slated to open in Austin Texas April 15. Somehow this only seems right for a state that votes to not pay taxes. Did you know that Austin is the only major Texas City that has no ordinance against women appearing topless in public? "Keep Austin Weird" has become a local motto. We at The Biennial Project encourage you to attend this event and catch sight of strange bosoms. Road trip to Marfa anyone?



Really Amazing Gallery Show in Boston – Not to be Missed


Hi Biennial Project Fans Worldwide, here’s something you seriously won’t want to miss. There’s a fantastic show up in Boston that naturally includes cool work by US, but also has really incredible work by members of a Hip Cutting-Edge Artist Collaborative named Atlantic Works. The title of the show is Guaranteed Stolen, and it deals provocatively with the issue of appropriation in the Arts. Here’s the link to the show -

Atlantic Works Gallery Guaranteed Stolen Show

And here’s a link to the Flattering Review of the show in The Boston Globe -

Boston Globe Review

Now, don’t be dismayed if you haven’t caught this show yet, there’s another reception

 Thursday January 20th from 6-9PM.

To give you just a taste of the cool work in the show, here’s one immensely clever work that is on display -

bp singlet1


Now, don’t even think of asking us, we’ll NEVER tell who the artist behind this lovely takeoff is!


Also included in this show, is a Body of Photographic Work from The Biennial Project’s series The Biennial Project in the Arts. This installment is titled The Biennial Project in the Arts – Chelsea, New York, December 2010. It documents The Biennial Project’s ongoing efforts to lend our Considerable Cachet to art exhibits around the world – in effect collaborating with the original artists Ex Post Facto, and thus contributing to a critical discourse about the nature and mutability of artistic practice and the viability of the “art object” within the post-modern framework, and well as opening a much needed dialogue about the exclusion of the viewer within the contemporary gallery paradigm. This work also touches upon issues of feminism and the construction of the female gaze, press freedom in a world of corporate sponsorship, the relevance of organized and alternative religious practice, the suppression of gay identity, and many other super important topics. Here are a few examples to wet your tongue -

annanyc1 copy pressvictem copy boob copy

laura1 copy  annasadguy copy ericgod copy

 annavagina copy  lauravid1 copy ericmodel1 copy

laurapaint copy medeer1 ericmusic

duckie copy ericlauradance copy ericzen copy

lauraguard copy annacop1 copy ericgay copy

 annapray copy  ericwords annabelly copy


And, just a tiny little subtle reminder – check out the

Venice Gift Registry

YES YOU CAN Be Part of the 54th Venice Biennale!


Venice Gift Registry

     YES YOU CAN impact the future of art history!  The Excitement is Palpable as The Biennial Project plans Our Upcoming Assault on The 54th Venice Biennale.  Our First Choice is of course to have you there with us for the whole thing (read down a few blog posts for the invite, and for god’s sake, let us know Right Away if you want to come, because The Villa is filling up as fast as you can say Life-Changing Experience). 

Venice Gift Registry

     But even if you can’t come, you can still have an impact on The Most Important Art Event in the World by helping us make the whole thing happen - by providing us with the most important kind of support – the financial kind!  You don’t have money you say, well of course you don’t silly, none of us do. That’s why we’ve made sure that there are opportunities for participation suited to every budget.

Venice Gift Registry

     For only pennies a day, you can make sure that a worthy artist does not go to bed hungry, thirsty or lonely in The City That Never Really Dries Out.  Make your mark on the Art World today!

Assistance is needed with Housing…..…Food……..Beverages……


Venice Gift Registry

Escort Services………

 ItalianF ItalianM

and many more Important and Necessary Components of a Successful Art Trip.

Venice Gift Registry

     Don’t miss your chance to participate in the Performance Art Extravaganza that is The Biennial Project’s 2011 Venice Tour. You’ll be speaking up for artists the world over who are tired of toiling in anonymity.  It’s so easy.  Just click on the link below (or above) to see the variety of Support Possibilities Available, and select exactly the level and type of support you choose to provide. You’ll be glad you did.  Every contributor at the $25 level or above will receive an autographed Polaroid of a Genuine Biennial Project Artist making use of your generous gift to take the Art World By Storm.  The cost of Polaroid film alone makes this A Good Investment

Venice Gift Registry


Biennial Project Approves USA Pavilion Biennale Selection—Este Muy Bueno!!!

Well, first things first—The Biennial Project would like to wish a very Happy New Year to you and yours!! With 2011 finally on the books we here at The Project will be setting our collective sights on preparing for our much anticipated trip to the 54th Venice Biennale!! As we get ever closer we will be providing a series of Venice-themed-tidbits to get our Faithful Fans pumped up too…..

Dorothy so immortally said in The Wizard of Oz, “there’s no place like home”—thus, we take a moment to report on our very own American Pavilion…..and the winner is….or rather, the WINNERS ARE: Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla! This dynamic art duo from San Juan Puerto Rico have been working together since 1995 and according to the New York Times their work “explores art, politics, and international identity.”

 miss puerto rico


The selection of our New Found Friends is noteworthy on several counts. Specifically, this is the first time a “collaborative” has been selected vs. a single artist… CLEARLY the way is paved for The Biennial Project! In addition this is the first time that the American Pavilion will showcase a combo of performance and installation….so did I mention The Biennial Project???


Commissioner of the US Pavilion at the 2011 Venice Biennale is Lisa Freiman, chair of the department of contemporary art at the Indianapolis Museum of Art—thus demonstrating that the OH-SO-PICTURESQUE city of Indianapolis can dish up more than Peyton Manning, Colts football, David Letterman and NASCAR racing.

According to our Exclusive Inside Sources, the art will be comprised of works developed specifically in response to the US Pavilion site. The exhibition will analyze contemporary geopolitics through the lens of spectacular nationalistic and competitive enterprises such as the Olympic Games, international commerce, war, the military-industrial complex and even the Biennale itself…..AHEM! Hello curators out there all over the world—DID WE MENTION THE MOMENTOUS AND GROUND-BREAKING IMPORTANT WORK OF THE BIENNIAL PROJECT???????? OBVIOUSLY we are influencing the Art World at the very Highest Levels!

And if there are still naysayers and doubting Thomases and Thomasinas out there we will close with this pearl of wisdom:

The Department of State has long been supportive of the arts as an integral component of our foreign policy. Without the need for translation, the arts have the unique ability of helping us reach beyond differences to embrace our common humanity,” said Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Ann Stock.

See—we told you that our Important Work was in fact SAVING THE WORLD!

Happy Holidays from Your Friends at The Biennial Project!!!

xmasblog1 copyxmasblog4xmasblog3 

     Well, it’s that time of year again - when Commodity Fetishism and the Pagan Festival of Lights combine to distract us from the futility of it all for a few Glorious Glittering Moments. And then there’s that Birth of the Baby Jesus Thing that seems to cheer some some folks up as well. Overall, just a lot of reasons to Rejoice! Being the team players that we are, Your Friends at The Biennial Project are always up for doing our part to contribute to this excellent holiday vibe.  Check us out – we’re really funny!


     And to all a good night!


December Fan of the Month

As usual, The Biennial Project has been busy.   Just two weeks ago we jaunted down to NYC to visit galleries and attend tony openings, all the while keeping an eye on possibilities to advance our Important Work.  We participated in many Prestigious Gallery Shows while there, and will have more on that for you soon.  But in the meantime, we wanted to introduce you to our newest Hip Avant-Garde Artist Friend.


His name is Russ Underlab (that’s Mr Underlab to you), and we met him while visiting the New Museum of Contemporary Art in the Fashionably Edgy Lower East Side to work on collaborations with many of the Big-Name Artists showing there.  He works there, and is himself a Big-Name Artist whose Chelsea Show just closed.

russ1 copy

We hit it off fabulously. Honestly, the Cognoscenti just always seem to GET us!  Now we’re planning collaborations with him too, and he is of course coming to Venice with us this summer for 54th Venice Biennale Villa Experience .  He even likes all the same things we do, including Johnny Cash, Anselm Keifer, and Wikileaks.  Most importantly, he makes a mean Rum Ball.

Russ Underlab truly deserves his place as The Biennial Project December Fan of the Month 2010!!!  Now do Russ proud, Esteemed Fan Base, and FACEBOOK THE FUCK OUT OF THIS POST!

And by all means, check out his Cool Website - RussUnderlabWebSite, and his Excellent Facebook PageRussUnderlabFacebook.

Biennial Project hangin’ w/ our buds the Starns…on the roof of the Met

Well…it goes without saying that the Center of the Art World is NYC—that is New York City and specifically the glamorous rooftop of the Met—that is the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  And…it goes without saying that where the Center of the Art World lies, The Biennial Project is sure to be seen…especially if it means mingling with Fellow Art World  Gliteratti Doug and Mike Starn in and around their awesome installation Big Bambu.

Shown here slurping yummy martinis at our Very Special V.I.P. Meeting with da boyz is Biennial Project member Laura Rollins who shares the same birth year as Doug and Mike as well as fellowship as an alum of the prestigious School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.  Ahhhhh the elbow rubbing we must indure…..


Starnes Met photo

Won’t You Please Come to Venice!!!

Hello Art-Loving Friends:venicebeak

The Biennial Project is proud to extend to you an invitation to accompany us to the 54th Venice Biennale which opens June 4th 2011. We will be renting An Entire Villa in the Centre of Venice and would love for you to stay with us. It will be a great week to see the glorious sights of Venice, experience the vast amounts of Kick-Ass International Art that will be displayed in the Biennale, and lest we forget to mention, attend Extremely Cool Biennale Parties.  As you can imagine, with such an audience on hand, it would be too much to expect for The Biennial Project to sit by quietly (we’re not too good at that in the best of circumstances), and of course we would love for you to participate in any and all of our High-Level, Post-Post-Modern Performance Art, but this is absolutely optional. Mostly we just want to share the excitement of this incredible event with you. Housing cost per person will be in the vicinity of $500. Included in the cost will be a limited edition Venice Biennale 2011 Biennial Project Tour T-Shirt. Reservations are first-come first-serve, and we will need a $200 per person deposit by January 15th.  Any questions, email Eric at or Anna at

Your source for Creative Travel Adventures,

The Biennial Project

And just to get your Biennial Juices flowing, here’s a selection of cool videos from current and past Venice Biennales (thanks to our ridiculously cool web-master P.K.Weiner for adapting this for US) – click on any box below to see more -


Global Biennialism Digest

Hi Fans! Welcome to the second installment of Global Biennialism Digest – the feature  in which we search far and wide for the most up-to-the minute info about the coolest Biennial Exhibits out there,  and provide links related to submission opportunities, exhibition dates, and interesting biennial reviews, as well as fun sites that delve into the biennialism phenomenon.

There is still time to catch The 7th Busan Biennale – taking place in Korea’s largest fishing town with theme of Living in Evolution (which needs no further explanation). We could not find any reviews of the best and worst stuff to see but Sherwine Jones, who writes, says he enjoys this event more then Christmas because there are always lots of wacky art installations and, unlike the pretentious contemporary art galleries up in Seoul, (we at The Biennial Project know this only too well), the work at The Busan Biennale is both playful and provocative. This Biennale runs until November 20th and from the looks of it I would have to agree with Shewine. The main exhibits are also conveniently located near the motels of Haeudae Beach.

For more information

Heng-gil Han & Dennis Oppenheim @ Busan Biennale



Prospect New Orleans 1.5 which, according to their website,, is the premiere biennial of international contemporary art in the set to kick off on November 6th and will run until Feb 19, 2011. Along with artists born and still working in New Orleans, approximately one-third of Prospect.1.5’s participants are native New Orleanians who have since moved away, several of whom will be exhibiting in their hometown for the first time through Prospect.1.5. In addition, the exhibition program will showcase the latest generation of young artists who have adopted New Orleans as their home, many moving to the city since Hurricane Katrina five years ago. With the world’s focus once again on the Gulf region following this summer’s devastating oil spill, Prospect.1.5 calls attention to the significance – and vibrancy – of New Orleans’ arts community.This venue seems to need some flow so you are encouraged to go and encouraged to give them your money. Some of the exhibits sound totally cool. For instance "The Angola Project" will feature works by prisoners from Angola State Penitentiary.WE are planning on going so you should as well.

Also for you clay-like people, The New Hampshire Institute of Art is pleased to announce Ceramics Biennial Exhibition 2010, a national juried exhibition for clay artists. So fire up your kilns, because this prestious international event is opening up November 8th in Mancester, NH.


Finally, what all you self promoting fans of ours really want!!! A link to a Call for Applications for The 12th Istanbul Biennial!!! For information on this go to Applications are due on December 31, 2010 - so you had better get moving on this if fame and recognition are what you desire. Who knows, maybe we can show side by side. If you make it, Kebabs are on us after the opening reception. See you there!!!