To have a complete vision of Bienal Cuenca we asked its curator - Blanca De La Torre - if she feels satisfied with the exhibition and if the goals outlined in the concept of Biennial are achieved?
First of all, I think the Biennial is now rooted in two of the main philosophies that lead my work and my life: Ecofeminisms and Degrowth. Both go through the entire project, not only from the discourse but in a systemic way.
I have to acknowledge that the Foundation and the executive director, Katya Cazar, supported the main decisions I took from the first day: decrease the number of participating artists (34 artists of which 67% are women), use fewer exhibition spaces and all close to each other, so the public could enjoy the walking without the need of any vehicle or transportation and invest more time with each project, understanding each artist's work behind it. We have also worked on many invisible processes, in terms of organization and production.
I am very happy with the sustainability plan, it took a lot of effort and it implies taking difficult decisions that I believe are crucial to start the path of the Transition towards a decarbonized economy. I always insist that it is not possible to make that path without getting out of the comfort zone. For instance, the reduction of the ecological footprint (we minimized water and energy resources, reduced shipping (international shipping was reduced to two works), we are committed to local production, local materials and the zero kilometers to reduce emissions and promote the productive fabric of the region, we have avoided polluting materials as much as possible and we are looking for a second life for those that are not biodegradable in order to get as close as possible to the zero-waste philosophy. For example, bags for catalogs are being made with banners and posters. Also, the 10 R's plan has worked quite well. As part of it we have repurposed all the museographic structures (plinths, vitrines, tables etc…), repaired old materials in order to create new ones like glass, wood, fabrics etc. We have valued small local crafts and small producers against large corporations
And we worked looking for the circular economy, designing a waste plan through donations to communities and reuse of other objects.
Having said that, I don't want to set myself an example of anything or convey that we have achieved a 100% sustainable Biennial or anything like that. If precisely with my work I seek to fight against greenwashing and the different forms of green capitalism that are emerging, it would not be honest to pretend to teach anything, when we work in a profession that involves constantly navigating contradiction.
Among other things, times are always too short, stress is there, the overexertion of the teams, and all kinds of last-minute complications and problems that become even more acute in times of pandemic. There are still many things that should be improved, and against which we must fight through collective effort, because let's not forget that all our cultural and artistic institutions are part of a patriarchal, colonial and capitalist system. Getting out of there is a multidimensional, multifactorial and systemic task, which cannot be achieved simply by applying a decalogue. What I do is point out other possible ways of producing and consuming culture.
I am also satisfied with the tone, the positive discourse that the Biennale transmits. We are at a time when it is useless to settle on criticism, we need alternatives, solutions, and encourage collective socioecological imagination.
In general terms, I believe that we have achieved a Biennial that manages to insinuate some guidelines for a paradigm shift, that speaks from the contents and from the praxis of environmental justice, of the construction of a more habitable world and suggests ways of approaching the transition to a new post-fossil era. https://15.bienaldecuenca.org/