press release

The Danish Arts Council's Committee for International Visual Arts is pleased to announce the appointment of Katerina Gregos as curator of the Danish Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011. Gregos is a highly recognized international Greek-born curator based in Brussels who has served as artistic director of Argos Centre for Art & Media, Brussels, and as director and curator of the Deste Foundation, Centre for Contemporary Art, Athens, in addition to having curated a number of projects as an independent curator, internationally.

For the exhibition in the Danish Pavilion Katerina Gregos has chosen to explore the very timely and complex issue of freedom of speech in a group exhibition featuring contemporary artists of different generations and nationalities.

Curator's statement

Denmark has a longstanding reputation of freedom of speech and freedom of press. It has always been at the forefront of the public debate on a number of progressive issues in relation to freedom of speech, but it has also suffered the 'trauma of free speech', making it even more appropriate to use the Danish Pavilion as a springboard from which to discuss these issues.

The notions of freedom of speech and freedom of expression are fundamentally bound to broader questions of politics, culture and social as well as personal issues but also impact upon and are interrelated with a whole host of other areas such as freedom of press, self-censorship, internet freedom, questions of copyright, intellectual property, the privatisation of knowledge, human rights, protest and public order, the gradual erosion of public space, and judicial or legal questions.

The exhibition aims to provoke a considered debate and to complicate the issue of freedom of speech which seems, more and more, to be used as an empty slogan for political purposes, and subjected to a very simplified, biased or populist debate when in fact it is an extremely complex, often ambivalent issue which is contingent on subjective political, social, cultural, religious and personal circumstances. The discussion around freedom of speech is therefore not only complicated but also highly relative and debatable, and the exhibition aims to highlight these intricacies, ambiguities and grey areas, emphasizing the fact that freedom of speech cannot be exercised or applied in any programmatic or strictly proscribed manner.

Why an exhibition on freedom of speech at this time? Because it is one of the key issues in the current public debate and one that is becoming increasingly contested given the steady erosion of civil liberties, even in the 'freer', Western world. Apart from the fact that it relates to Denmark specifically, it is also highly relevant in relation to much of what is happening in the world today from press intimidation and censorship in Russia and elsewhere, to the recent Google episode in China, down to other issues such as increasing surveillance in the UK and the USA, and highly charged debates on the limits of freedom of speech in several European countries such as the Netherlands. Finally, it also touches on the essence of visual artistic practice per se, which fundamentally entails conditions of freedom.

Curator's short biography

Katerina Gregos is a curator and writer based in Brussels. She is currently co-curator of the 4th Fotofestival Mannheim, Ludwigshafen, Heidelberg, in Germany (together with Solvej Ovesen). She is also curating a large-scale exhibition on human rights for the City of Mechelen, Belgium, in 2012. As an independent curator Gregos has curated numerous exhibitions internationally including, among others, Hidden in Remembrance is the Silent Memory of Our Future, Contour 2009 – The 4th Biennial for Moving Image in Mechelen, Belgium (2009), and Give(a)way - On generosity, giving, sharing and social exchange, the 30th Annual, 6th Biennial E V+ A: Exhibition of Visual Art, Limerick, Ireland (2006). Other projects include Leaps of Faith: An International Arts Project for the Green Line and the City of Nicosia, Cyprus (2005), and Channel Zero, for the Netherlands Media Art Institute, Amsterdam (2004). Katerina Gregos regularly publishes on art and artists in magazines, books and exhibition catalogues, and is a frequent speaker in international conferences.

The Commissioners

The Danish Arts Council's Committee for International Visual Art serves as Commissioner for the Danish Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, where Denmark has taken part since 1895. In compliance with its intention to consider Danish art in an international perspective, it is the aim of the Danish Arts Council's Committee for International Visual Art that the Danish Pavilion, through innovative artistic and curatorial practices, reflects upon the position of contemporary art in a globalized art world as well as the position of the Venice Biennale in this ever-changing art world.

The Danish Arts Council's Committee for International Visual Art consists of Christine Buhl Andersen, (Chairman), Eva Koch, Mikael Andersen, Jakob Jakobsen and Gitte Ørskou.

SPEECH MATTERS Agency, Ayreen Anastas and Rene Gabri, Robert Crumb, Zhang Dali, Stelios Faitakis, FOS, Sharon Hayes, Han Hoogerbrugge, Mikhail Karikis, Thomas Kilpper, Runo Lagomarsino, Tala Madani, Wendelien van Oldenborgh, Lilibeth Cuenca Rasmussen, Taryn Simon, Jan Švankmajer, Johannes af Tavasheden, Tilman Wendland Commissioners: The Danish Arts Council Committee for International Visual Arts: Christine Buhl Andersen (Chairman), Eva Koch, Mikael Andersen, Jakob Jakobsen, Gitte Ørskou (1 April 2007 – 31 March 2011) / Rune Gade (Chairman), Jesper Elg, Mads Gamdrup, Lise Harlev, Anna Krogh (1 April 2011 – 31 March 2015). Curator: Katerina Gregos. Venue: Pavilion at Giardini

For enquiries related to this announcement and the project please contact the following: Lotte S. Lederballe Pedersen, Email:, Christine Buhl Andersen, Email:

The project is funded by the Danish Art Council.

Opening The Danish Pavilion, Giardini, at 15:30 on Thursday, 2 June 2001

Speech Matters will open to the public on Sunday, 4 June 2011 at the Giardini, Venice as part of the 54th Venice Biennale, and remain on view through 27 November 2011.

only in german

54th International Art Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia
National Participation:

The Danish Pavilion
Kurator: Katerina Gregos

Künstler: The Agency  (Kobe Matthys), Ayreen Anastas & Rene Gabri, Robert Crumb, Zhang Dali, Stelios Faitakis, FOS , Sharon Hayes, Han Hoogerbrugge, Mikhail Karikis, Thomas Kilpper, Runo Lagomarsino, Tala Madani, Wendelien van Oldenborgh, Lilibeth Cuenca, Taryn Simon, Jan Svankmajer, Johannes af Tavsheden, Tilman Wendland