This year's Biennial of the Americas hopes to push past art and architecture
The Denver Biennial of the Americas is being presented this week in its second rendition — the first having been mounted in the summer of 2010. So, yes, it's a year late. The curatorial team for the main art event, Draft Urbanism, is headed by Carson Chan, a Berlin-based curator and writer. He has been joined by two architects — Paul Andersen, who works in Denver, and Gaspar Libedinsky, from New York. The title Draft Urbanism is meant to refer to both the fact that Denver is the Napa Valley of craft brewing and the fact that the city is constantly changing. As the Biennial has come together, it seems decidedly more urban than draft, however. There are clearly two distinct categories within Draft Urbanism: two-dimensional pieces mounted on billboards throughout the city, and a series of architectural interventions downtown, like "Mine Pavilion" (pictured), by Pezo von Ellrichshausen.
Associated with Draft Urbanism is First Draft, ensconced in the recently rehabbed McNichols Building. This show was put together by Colorado-based curator Cortney Stell. Although Stell has not limited her selections to local artists, she's included quite a few of them. Among this group are Theresa Anderson, Tyler Beard, Brandon Bultman, Amber Cobb, Ian Fisher, Carlos Frésquez, Tsehai Johnson, Conor King, Adam Milner, Laura Shill, Shawn Taylor, Rebecca Vaughan and many more.
Draft Urbanism and First Draft run through September, but the Biennial proper ends on July 19 with a finale in the Civic Center titled Denver Night. This event was organized by MCA Denver's Adam Lerner and Chris Kallmyer. The highlight is HEARD•DAM, a performance by Nick Cave in association with his current blockbuster, Sojourn, at the Denver Art Museum. The piece will include dancers wearing Cave's famous Soundsuits — in this case, ones that represent (and are the size of) horses. There will also be performances by the Colorado Symphony and members of the Fray, among others.
The organizers have attempted to expand the traditional idea of a biennial, which is typically limited to art or architecture. What they've also done is embrace "Idea" platforms, made up of speeches and panels that are more ordinarily associated with conferences or symposiums. For me, though, it's the art part that's mostly of interest.
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