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How to Biennale! in the Digital Age at Hasselt University, Belgium: an exchange of ideas, aspirations & know-how of making art events in the digital age.

Published: 30 October 2019
Aram Bartholl, Obsolete Presence.
Aram Bartholl, Obsolete Presence, 2017–19.

How to Biennale! in the Digital Age is a one day event devised as both a forum for the exchange of expertise and the production for a book, How to Biennale! The Manual. The book (which plays on the KLF's well-known music industry Manual of the late 1980s) seeks to offer a practical and accessible guide to making art ‘eventful’ outside of formal institutional structures and expectations. How to Biennale! in the Digital Age: December 7, 12–7pm


Participants will be encouraged to develop and contribute their own additions to the final version of the book (to be published next year). First launched at Tate Exchange (Tate Modern, London) in May 2018, the second HTB! Conference at Hasselt University takes place during Stadstriënnale 2019. The conference will host a series of informal discussion groups, facilitated by those with key experience, across a range of issues from thinking through vision and distinctiveness to building a team and connecting with artists and audiences using digital technology. Several digital experts and theorists will support the conference.

Application process: The event is free but spaces are limited. Register here.


Imagined Biennales is a session alongside the conference, intended as an open forum to present and debate ideas for the future of biennales.

The proliferation of biennales and other perennial art events around the world reveal huge energy, creativity and social engagement within the sphere of contemporary art. Whether operating at hyper-local, local, national or international levels, these events are always more than the art they represent. They are about people, places, histories, social enterprise and the political aesthetic. But equally, they can be homogenizing forces and complacent about the "value" of art. What do we want from our biennales and how do we get it? Imagined Biennales: December 7, 4–6pm

Imagined Biennales invites as wide a range of voices as possible to share in current practice and to pitch new ideas. What does a biennale look like and what do we want it to look like? We welcome presentations in person, written statements or short videos.

Application process:
In order to accommodate a variety of perspectives and ideas we ask all prospective participants to submit a one-page expression of interest to This should outline the main context and key ideas as envisaged for a 5/10-minute presentation.

Deadline: December 1, 2019.

There are no specific criteria for the presentation topics. We are open to experimentation and welcome views on current practice. If you are involved in running or developing an art biennale, festival or recurring programme, come to Hasselt University to share your vision with experts and colleagues in the field. Equally, we are interested in counter-views, whether articulations against biennales or considerations of alternative situations, new models and different contexts. Furthermore, we welcome ideas about the fostering of community. The title of this event plays on the title of Benedict Anderson’s well-known book Imagined Communities, in which he argues nations are socially constructed; they are "an imagined political community." Imagined communities come together in large-scale events such as sporting tournaments, and indeed large-scale arts events. Like Anderson’s account of nations, we might suggest biennales and other perennial art events are finite, they have "elastic boundaries," beyond which lie other events and communities. They are also "sovereign" in that no singular hierarchy claims authority. Even though we may never tangibly grasp our imagined community, we still know it is there (or imagine it is!). How might we characterize the biennale fraternity and its future?

Imagined Biennales was part of a week-long event, Building an Art Biennale at Tate Exchange (Tate Modern) in May 2018. A forthcoming publication, How to Biennale! The Manual is edited by Robert E. D'Souza, Sunil Manghani & Shwetal A. Patel. This event is a collaboration with Pieter Jan Valgaeren, artistic director of Stadstriënnale 2019.

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