Art biennales are typically splashy affairs, but as The Guardian reports, the organizers of the Biennale de La Biche want to make a less showy impression. The art fair—which opened earlier this month, on January 6—is billed as the “world’s smallest contemporary art biennale,” as it’s held on a tiny, disappearing island off the coast of Guadeloupe in the southern Caribbean Sea. Rising sea levels will eventually swallow the land, and the art will fall into the ocean.
Founders and curators Alex Urso and Maess Anand recruited 14 participating artists, who all donated small works to the biennale. According to Artnet, Urso and Anand packed the art into a suitcase, flew it to the Caribbean (without purchasing insurance), and displayed it in a makeshift “gallery”—an abandoned wooden shack on the island. They didn’t even need permission to use the speck of land, named Ilet La Biche; locals told Urso “there was no point,” he says.
The biennale is titled In a land of. “This sentence, suspended and imprecise, wants to be a suggestion, an incentive to grasp the essence of the island as a geographically isolated place, but above all, a spot distant from all the limits and conventions of the contemporary art system,” Biennale de La Biche's website explains. “Moreover, the location is a transitory place, because it is slowly disappearing: due to the rising sea levels, the island is in fact gradually submerging, and in a few decades, it is destined to disappear.”
Biennale de La Biche may be interpreted as a political statement about global warming, but Urso tells Artnet that his main goal is for the event to convey themes like ephemerality and uncertainty, and "to push all the artists to somehow to relate to the idea of an unknown place.”
There’s no way to know whether anyone’s actually visiting Biennale de La Biche, as Urso and Anand simply left the art there and traveled back to their home country, Poland. However, local artists in Guadeloupe have reportedly expressed interest in the event, and Urso and Anand are already tentatively planning a follow-up biennale, to be held two years from now.
Check out some photos of Ilet La Biche below, or visit Biennale de La Biche's website for visiting information.
[h/t The Guardian]