Artistic director Francesco Bonami, refers to the 50th edition of the International Art Exhibition at the Venice Biennial as “a polyphony of voices and thoughts: it is a large body in which different and independent spirits of contemporary art are shown”. Under the title Dreams and Conflicts: The Dictatorship of the Viewer, Bonami presented a variety of projects. Delays and Revolutions (co-curated with Daniel Birnbaum), Clandestine, and Pittura/Painting, a large retrospective about painting at the Venice Biennale from 1964 to the present day, which took place at the Museo Correr. Other exhibitions which were part of the overall project included The Zone, curated by Massimiliano Gioni; Fault Lines (Contemporary African Art and Shifting Landscapes) curated by Gilane Tawadros and produced by the Forum for African Arts; Individual Systems, curated by Igor Zabel; Z.O.U. Zone of Urgency, curated by Hou Hanru; The Structure of Survival, curated by Carlos Basualdo; Contemporary Arab Representations, curated by Catherine David; The Everyday Altered, curated by Gabriel Orozco, and Utopia Station, curated by Molly Nesbit, Hans Ulrich Obrist, and Rirkrit Tiravanija. Together with the official exhibitions by countries and institutions as well as numerous special presentations and projects, the above projects are to be perceived as the “islands” of a complex archipelago that visitors can explore like a global map.
The Everyday Altered references the ongoing collaboration that has taken place between the curator and the participating artists over the years. Gabriel Orozco sees his curatorial practice limited to establishing rules for a game in a specific exhibition field. The rules are: no walls, no pedestals, no vitrines, no video, and no photographs. The six players invited are: Abraham Cruzvillegas, Jimmie Durham, Daniel Guzman, Jean Luc Moulène, Damian Ortega, and Fernando Ortega.
“Avoiding the mediums mentioned before”, says Orozco “these artists have accepted to participate using their own altered objects of knowledge. We could say that the practice of transforming everyday objects and situations is a way of transforming the passage of time and the way we assimilate the economics and politics of the instruments of living. This practice has emerged as a political tool for contemporary artists everywhere at the beginning of the twenty-first century, it allowed individuals to appropriate and transform reality and make these altered objects the materials and tools of our revolutionary tomorrows. The immediacy of a human scale, ironic humor, fragility of intimacy, and the meticulous violence of transforming the familiar, makes these artists' work relevant to understand a powerful tendency in the art practice of today.”