Vancouver Biennale: On now until 2011, so wander Vancouver!

December 1, 2009

For those who may not be familiar with the term, biennale is Italian for “every other year” and is commonly appropriated by English speakers to refer specifically to biannual international art events. For some, going to a biennale can be akin to pilgrimage: a long travel for the purpose of experiencing some sort of transformative enlightenment.

But good news! You don’t need to go to Venice or Florence to be exposed to and inspired by International Art. The Vancouver Biennale 2009-2011 is on right now.

The Vancouver Biennale has a mandate to mount a major biannual outdoor art exhibition featuring world-class international sculptures, new media and performance art. In addition, the Vancouver Biennale produces publications, curriculum, professional symposiums and public lecture series.The objective of the Vancouver Biennale is to celebrate art in public spaces, inviting the entire community to experience the brightest new and world renown talent in contemporary art.

The exhibition theme is “in-TRANSIT-ion” and features works displayed in Vancouver along major bike routes, the airport, and along the Canada line, works which “emphasise the physical movement of people in our mobile society, as well as our changing attitudes and sensibilities towards public art.” You could walk out your door, put one foot in front of the other, and find yourself contemplating a sculpture, performance or multimedia installation that explores the very thing that got you to it: transition.

Where’s the Art?

The Vancouver Bienalle website has a nicely configured locations application that has markers for all the sites, including statements about each piece. It’s in Google Maps, so if you find a piece you are interested in, you can zoom in or use the “Get Directions” feature to help you out.

For a more immediate sense of what’s currently going on, you can also check out the Biennale blog and the Biennale Facebook page, both with great collections of pictures to help you figure out what you’d like to see.

Make your own Art Walk

Though the Bienalle is a two year exhibition and set of events, you may want to experience different themes or exhibitions in that time. And while events like the Eastside Culture Crawl and The Drift provide such rich and diverse exposure, you don’t need to wait for these events to encounter art in Vancouver.

The City of Vancouver Public Art Registry has rich information about public art happening in and around Vancouver.

Use the Neighbourhood Maps link to drill down to pieces in your area, complete with pictures, titles, artist statements and date of installation. If you are looking for a particular piece or artist you can use the Artworks Search Page or the Artist Search Page to help you.

If you have a favourite walk you go on, use the Biennale and Public Art Registry pages to discover pieces you may barely be missing every day. Or instead, turn an upcoming weekend into a pilgrimage of your own. Whether you have a transformational experience, or whether you birth new artistic inspiration, you’ll at least get some outdoor exercise (and perhaps a nice excuse to indulge in a few more treats this holiday season).