press release

Once again Val Gardena, its breath-taking nature, rich cultural landscape, unique local art tradition, the dramatic history of its region and contemporary social fabric, serve as a backdrop for a mise en scène of the narratives of longing performed by the artists invited to the 5th Biennale Gherdëina. Transcending the notion of here, while outlining a path towards there—a spatio-temporal phantasm of coexistence and endurance—the artists challenge the solidity of (local) tradition and (regional) identity.

The eternity—"a daughter of mankind (...), a sensitive, secret mirror of what passes through every soul"—comes into being as sequences of moments and a succession of action of which memory and history, universal and private, collide and constitute a collective language; from Plato and Plotinus, through metaphysical thinkers and St. Augustine down to Jorge Luis Borges and Giorgio Moroder, the eternity unfolds as a post-utopian field of unconditional identity.

The exhibition, entitled From Here to Eternity maps a hybridity of the vernacular (the common, the ordinary, but also the domestic and the native) in its passage towards an expanded field where phenomena and issues, once familiar and tamed, change their meaning and reveal a complexity beyond any particular belonging or social, geopolitical, historical or cultural template. While affirming local particularity, the artists of the 5th Biennale Gherdëina are actively deconstructing the vocabulary of the vernacular by registering a necessary shift in its understanding, aiming—with critical distance and defetishisizing intention—at establishing a new socio-politically and culturally updated relationship with site and place of origin. The exhibition, conceived as a conversation between diverse artistic positions that engage materials, economies, formal languages and references, reconsiders the vernacular as an invaluable source that undergoes a process of a radical transformation during which histories, traditions and legacies are set in flux and moderated. Here, the vital forms of both an attachment and escape are at stake as active agents of a new identity formation; here, conceptual geometry, mythological and historical ritual, tradition and illusion, self-reflexive craft and material/formal sensuality conspire with equilibrium of matter, perceptive magic, the corporeal and the alchemic minimal to map a trajectory From Here to Eternity.

As such, the exhibition From Here to Eternity undertakes the act of "undoing" the vernacular by investigating the possibility of alchemy in today's world of received ideas and predefined canons; it opens up a polyphonic and non-generic space, where stories and matters collide and dialogue with each other in a vertigo of resilience and productivity; last but not least, it identifies "here" as the fertile ground of an unbound creativity, a zone of potentiality set up for an adventurous journey towards a (kind of) futuristic, imaginary "eternity," a presumably safe, heterotopic place where thoughts generously unfold beyond their local constraints and limits.

From Here to Eternity is primarily an exhibition on longing and displacement, an imaginary journey. The artworks (mainly sculptures, but also installations, objects, drawings, performances and videos), elegantly distributed within a public space, the pedestrian zone, in the picturesque town of Ortisei (as well as in the Church of St. Antonio and the Circolo Gallery of Contemporary Art) were, to a large extent, conceived especially for the Biennale and predominantly executed in wood, a cherished material locally, in a collaboration with the local artisans and in the workshops of woodcarvers. Beyond utopia and towards phantasmagoric eternity, the exhibition's narratives unfold tenderly as an embrace of tenses and destinies. Here, the act of thinking and the act of making, thought and process, before, now and after—a simultaneity that constitutes eternity—manifest themselves through the nostalgic lure of here and the abstract and seductive t\here, the eternal...

All hand carved from singular blocks of wood, Stephan Balkenhol's anonymous human figures emanate timelessness. His is the universe of archetypal, anti-heroic representation; a portrait of a human condition at its most basic appearance and shape. Adrian Paci subverts the notion of homecoming and transforms (cultural) identities in his oeuvre, focused on placelessness, while Christian Kosmas Mayer touches upon the rhetoric of failure by exhuming history as a hopeless ruin, a relic like a desperate protagonist on the abandoned stage of post-history. Katinka Bock expresses a post-romantic desire for longing; hers is yet another homecoming, archaic, primal, a return of relics. Szymon Kobylarz articulates a utopian quest to conquer both science and nature; his praise of crafts and human labour—also a homage to science and knowledge—is an accurate testimony of today's world, on the edge of natural and technological disaster. The poetic and minimal work of Xavier Veilhan pays yet another tribute to history and nature, to time passing and humankind's will to conquer it. In performative gestures that reenact history, Franz Kapfer makes a symbolic leap over geographies and sociopolitical references. Fernando Sánchez Castillo demystifies history and tradition in a masquerade of collective memory, while Marzia Migliora touches upon a regional history of toys and performatively dramatizes the geopolitical divide. Anna Hulačová's art is a critical revision of a folklore and (any) local tradition. Her work, immersed in the phantasmagoric, maps a pre-cultural moment of identity formation. Michele Bernardi's are poetic translations of longing and remembrance, his elemental forms and skeletons of objects echoing nature in an attempt to capture the ephemerality of experience. Nicola Samori's paintings and sculptures are celebrations of history's (as well as religion's) dominance over humankind's collective consciousness and imagination; his work offers a fascinating journey through the labyrinths of a "vernacular state of mind."

The Biennale Gherdëina originated as a collateral event of Manifesta7 (Trentino Alto Adige, 2008). It is organized with the generous support of the Ortisei Tourist Association, the Commune of Ortisei, the Bolzano Autonomy Provincial Authority, the Autonomy Region Trentino South Tyrol, Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Bolzano, Raiffeisenkasse Gherdeina, Raiffeisenkasse Castelrotto and Ortisei, 3DW, Barth Interiors, Finstral, Adler Resorts, Karl Pichler, Socrep, Assiconsult, Schweigkofler, Stahlbau Pichler, Hartmann Hotels and the Friends of the Biennale Gherdëina.


Stephan Balkenhol, Michele Bernardi, Katinka Bock, Fernando Sánchez Castillo, Anna Hulačová, Franz Kapfer, Szymon Kobylarz, Christian Kosmas Mayer, Marzia Migliora, Adrian Paci, Nicola Samorì, Xavier Veilhan

Curated by Adam Budak