It has been our tradition to round up each WRO Biennale by sending it on tour. The itinerary ensembles commonly include videos and recordings documenting the opulent programme of shows, exhibitions, performances, actions and events presented at Wrocław, which encapsulate its highlights – the most intriguing artworks and artists, but also the themes and issues most germane to the current developments in arts. We continue this tradition this year as well. The WRO 2015 on Tour selection consists of 30 video works and 13 video documentations which showcase the abundance of Test Exposure – the 16th WRO 2015 Media Art Biennale. Among them are artworks created in more than twenty countries between 2013 and 2015.
Screen works represent a copious and pertinent panorama of varied attitudes, issues and aesthetics defining the latest art worldwide and ranging from body, animation and video experimentations through richly symbolic film visions and works addressing the social media mechanisms operative in the real world, to austere, nearly documentary, socially and politically topical recordings. The collection features also works that directly reference current and historical issues in arts, such as minimal art, earth art, brutalism, performance and, finally, illusion and manipulation in and through the media.
This diversified collection coalesces into the title notion of Test Exposure – the umbrella term of the WRO 2015 Biennale. The term, as such, is ambiguous and potentially deceptive as “test exposure” may designate “a trial exposure” and, at the same time, “a testing exposure”. The very word exposure in itself conveys a multiplicity of meanings, including exhibition and presentation as well as disclosure, unveiling and unmasking, but also vulnerability and hazard. This is actually what the latest WRO Biennale sought to achieve – to put recent art to the test when confronted with the audience and to put the viewers to the test when exposed to art in a variety of spaces, circumstances and contexts. It produced a unique test to the autonomy and resilience of art, which, embedded in contemporary life, faces up both to the designs various political and economic agendas have on it and to the challenges of pop culture, which formats our – the public’s – expectations, preferred understandings and aesthetic habits. How does art handle the joint demands of attractiveness and intelligibility today? How will the public and the critics respond to departures from the normative, mainstream discourse, which call for thoughtful focus, interpretive independence and, ultimately, attention and confidence in one’s own, oft insecure sensibility?
Such queries inform the collection of WRO 2015 on Tour. It can be watched as a tripartite whole, but it is also available in a more condensed, synoptic selection.