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In this critical essay, Ruth Auerbach considers the challenges represented by the 5th Bienal Nacional de Arte de Guayana (Ciudad Bolívar, 1997). Here, the writer defines the theoretical foundation of the museological and curatorial vision of the biennial and ponders several aspects of the results of the invitation process. The curator comments on and analyzes the work of some of the participants, including Nela Ochoa, Alfredo Ramírez, María Cristina Carbonell, Roberto Obregón, Yucef Merhi, and Sandra Vivas. As participants in a salon open to new alternative modes of contemporary art, these artists created work that revolved around the multiple historical and geographical meanings of the State of Guayana, Venezuela.
The 5th Bienal Nacional de Arte de Guayana represented the commemoration of a decade since the first biennial was held in 1987. Unquestionably, the biennial was now established as a space dedicated to an ongoing effort to tackle themes related to contemporary life and art. The invitation process was open to the very newest experimental art approaches. The event even extended its boundaries beyond the museological space to the urban space and other historic centers in Ciudad Bolívar, the capital of the State of Guayana. Going back to 1991, in the course of the third round, the Venezuelan art critics Ruth Auerbach and Freddy Carreño had taken over as curators of the biennial. It was their intention to raise the event to the level of other international biennials whose specifications set a priority on the precepts of contemporary art. Unfortunately, like many other Venezuelan art salons, the Bienal de Guayana disappeared after this fifth (and last) presentation in 1997. This essay is complemented by texts written by the critics Gabriela Rangel (“Bienal de Guayana. Del Salón Nacional a la Región Globalizada”) and Freddy Carreño (“Al sur del Paralelo 8. Arte y confrontación, argumentos para un debate”), which were included in the same catalogue.
[As a supplementary reading to this text, see another essay by Auerbach on the 3rd Bienal Nacional de Arte de Guayana, held in 1997, entitled “Sin título” (doc. no. 1162215)].