When SITE Santa Fe launched in 1995, it was one of only a handful of international contemporary art biennials around the world. Now that these number in the hundreds and take place in venues as far-flung as Dakar and Istanbul, SITE is refocusing its hallmark exhibition to stand out from the pack. After a two-year biennial hiatus, the organization will relanch its signature exhibition next summer with a new focus on artists from the Western Hemisphere — or, as SITE pithily puts it in a recent press release, “contemporary art from Nunavut to Tierra del Fuego.”
Its new biennial format, titled “SITElines: New Perspectives on Art of the Americas,” will tackle a different theme each year; the first, “Unsettled Landscapes,” will “present the work of artists who explore issues related to economies derived from the land, movement across the land and representations of the land,” SITE director and chief curator Irene Hofmann told ARTINFO.
While the biennial will ultimately include the work of more than 40 artists from 15 countries, SITE has released the names of the first 13 participants. The initial list includes Cape Dorset, Canada-based artist Shuvinai Ashoona, Santa Fe-based artist Jamison Chas Banks, Los Angeles-based artist Andrea Bowers, Cordoba, Argentina-based artist Adriana Bustos, London and Nassau-based artist Blue Curry, New York-based artist Juan Downey, Santiago de Chile-based artist Gianfranco Foschino, and San Francisco-based collaborative Futurefarmers, New York-based artist Pablo Helguera, Mexico City-based artist Antonio Vega Macotela, Lima, Peru-based artist Gilda Mantilla, Hudson-based artist Jason Middlebrook, and Toronto-based artist Kent Monkman.
“The full list of artists will be announced in Mexico City at the beginning of February at an event co-hosted by the Museo Tamayo at the Zona Maco art fair,” said Hofmann, adding, “It will include artists from three generations, and a significant number of new commissions.” Hoffman has been organizing the show in coordination with SITE assistant curator Janet Dees, Candice Hopkins, and Lucia Sanroman; SITE has additionally been working with five regional curatorial advisors that include Christopher Cozier, Julieta Gonzalez, Eva Grinstein, Inti Guerrero, and Kitty Scott.
Jamison Chas Banks, who recently won the top film prize at the Santa Fe Indian Market in August and had a well-received residency at the Museum of Contemporary Native Art (MOCNA) in Santa Fe earlier this year, will present a commissioned installation, “Retour Des Cendres Vol. 1(Return Of The Ashes)” that deals with the connections between the return of Napoleon’s ashes from St. Helena to France, the exile of the Cherokee, and the Louisiana Purchase. He hopes to eventually expand the project into a film.
“I’m thrilled,” said Banks. “I’m really honored. I moved to Santa Fe in 1996 after I graduated high school to attend IAIA [Institute of American Indian Arts] and I went to one of the first biennials that they had. I remember it being so refreshing and so open for different discussions than what the gallery scene is, at least here. It’s always been the pinnacle of what Santa Fe has to offer. It blows everybody else out of the water.”
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