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ICF - Pan European Encounters - The Venice Biennial.

Updated: Apr 26

Thelma Golden, Echo Eshun, Simon Njami & Robert Storr., Miriam Sharp, David A Bailey MBE and Paul Domela.

Pan European Encounters - The Venice Biennial 2007

Sala Corte Room

Hotel Monaco & Grand Canal

San Marco 1332



ICF is both a professional development programme for emerging curatorial talent from the UK of and an organisational platform for exploring and contesting the roles that race and cultural heritage play within contemporary visual culture and the international art scene. . An inaugural symposium "Pan-European Encounters" was also organised during the Venice Biennale to discuss and explore the changing idea of identity and the diaspora in the 21st century. Twenty-three curators from the UK were selected to participate in the visits and 10 group leaders were recruited to accompany them. More than 20 speakers were also engaged for related symposia, seminars and debates.


Nike Jonah, Terry Adams, Tanya Wilmer, Ellie Stout, Mark Waugh, David A Bailey,

Axel Lapp, Philip Abraham, Julia Waugh, Huttson Lo, Tim Eastop, Adelaide Bannerman,

Melanie Keen, Yvette Mutumba, Yasmin Canvin, Sally Lai, Sook-Kyung Lee, Sarah Raza,

Atsuko Ramirez, Sutapa Biswas, Cheryl Gallagher, Juan Sebastian Ramirez, Michael Forbes,

Sherman Sam, Emma Boyd, Catherine Lucktaylor, Qian Jing, Alicia Campbell,

Cedar Leishon and Esen Kaya.

DAY ONE: Thursday 7th June


Samenua Sesher, Robert D’Agostino (President of the Arsenale) and

Robert Storr (Curator 52nd Venice Biennial)


Mario De Michelis (Dean of the University of Venice for Arts)


David A Bailey (Curator - A Black Aesthetic).

Panel discussion:

A Black Aesthetic. Chair: Mike Philips (Independent curator and Cross-cultural Consultant to Tate Britain), Deborah Smith (Curator), Yu Yeon Kim (Curator) and David Adjaye (Architect).

Questions from the audience.



Simon Njami (Curator South African Pavilion).

Panel discussion:

Chair: Mariam Sharp (Arts Council England), Ekow Eshun (Director, Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) London), Courtney J Martin (Curator Getty Foundation), Thelma Golden (Director, Studio Museum Harlem) & Paul Domela (Artistic Director Liverpool Biennial). Robert Starr (Curator 52nd Venice Biennial) and Simon Njami (Curator South African Pavilion).

Questions from the audience.

Thelma Golden, Ekow Eshun, Simon Njami, Robert Starr, Mariam Sharp David A Bailey MBE & Paul Domela.

DAY TWO: Friday 8th June

The Black Moving Cube


The Black Moving Cube by David A Bailey

Panel Discussion:

Chair: Gilane Tawadros (Curator), Jacques Ranciere (Theorist/Critic),

Otolith Group: Anjalika Saga and Kodwo Eshun (Artists), John Akomfrah (Artist),

Zineb Sidera (Artist).

Questions from the audience.

In Conversation:

David Lammy MP (Minister for Culture UK) and Dr Augustus Caseley-Hayford (Executive Director Arts: Arts Council England)


The Symposium is delivered with support from the University of Venice and Decibel


The aim of ICF was to present, a textured geometry - memory and representations; two days of symposia exploring the present tense of aesthetics, politics and the diasporic cultures in the global landscapes of the "Art World'".

Against the push and pull of a mechanic reproduction of simple stereotypes, ICF has been at the margins of the sometimes disturbing terrain - the space of production and distribution of artworks. We have created a fragile but autonomous borderless state in which as Gillian Tawadros might say the "Fault Lines'of history" shift before us.

This gentle tremor is not merely the rupturing of grand narratives but also a moving through the various 'posts' and missives of a historic discourse into a micro cartography of bodies metabolised, passionate and articulate - urgently exploring the limits of specific locutions; particularly in the context of the Africa Pavilion and the exhibition Check List - Luanda Pop curated by Fernando Alvim and Simon Njami. There is no exit from this space instead we are now always Exiles, displaced signs pointing to histories that have been erased only to be reanimated as artworks.

Jacques Ranciere & Dr David Dibosa.

My moment of elucidation within the symposia was the dialogue between Robert Storr and Simon Njami which exposed the frayed edges of a collaboration and the limits and ethics of curatorial responsibility. It revealed not only the philosophy of the neighbourhood as Deleuze might say but the symptoms of the sickness Neitzsche would have diagnosed as endemic within power structures such as the Venice Biennale and organisations that are global in their profile and their political power. Their conversation by default located the fissures and economies of determination which are the 'worldliness' of the 'art world'. Could it it be anything but without resorting to bad faith?

Beyond the symposia dialogues we were delighted that our curatorial groups talked around themes raised in the symposia, and by our group leaders but also the intimate resonances each of them had with particular works in the pavilions.

The ambition of the ICF was to develop a professional network within the paradigms of hospitality and friendship. We hope we have facilitated an important set of dialogues and raised questions which can be expanded as we travel through Documenta and Munster. We are keen to stay connected and want to hear what moved, frustrated, excited, shocked and inspired your journey through the labyrinth of the 52 Venice Biennale.. - Mark Waugh.


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