IAB 04: Landscapes of Desire

This edition of the Industrial Art Biennial titled “Landscapes of Desire” has a strong focus on interventions in public space.The curators Christoph Doswald and Paolo Bianchi commissioned a large number of site specific interventions and new artworks by 29 participants of Biennial, which is conceived as an experimental laboratory, re-shaping the rich social, economical and cultural topography of Istria.  

The artists
Lara Almarcegui ● Cristian Andersen ● Charlie Billingham ● Vanessa Billy ● Werner Feiersinger ●  Fernanda Figuieiredo ● Clare Goodwin ● Tatjana Gromača ● Igor Grubić ● Manaf Halbouni ● Raphael Hefti ● Gregor Hildebrandt ● Christian Jankowski ● Nikita Kadan ● Sandra Knecht ● Joseph Kosuth ● Lena Lapschina ● Sonia Leimer ● Olaf Nicolai ● Seçkin Pirim ● Anna Piva ● Marko Pogačnik ● Tanja Roscic ● Karin Sander ● Arcangelo Sassolino ● Talaya Schmid ● Natalia Stachon ● Stefanos Tsivopoulos ● Viktor Zahtila  

The Industrial Art Biennial
The Industrial Art Biennial (IAB), an international exhibition of contemporary art and new artistic practices, was launched in 2014 by the art-activist collective Labin Art Express XXI (L.A.E. XXI), as a strong alternative to the context of globalization, which changes most local features due to the dominance of much more powerful cultural and political centers, which systematically impose certain conventions in contemporary art, changing local cultural landscapes. Therefore, the IAB insists on the local and regional context, with special emphasis on the industrial and cultural heritage of Istria in general, with the aim of strengthening the local/regional identity as well as improving its importance, visibility and recognition in the European framework. After the pilot edition in 2014 curated by Branko Franceschi, and the first three editions, in 2016 (curated by Lucrezia De Domizio Durini and Branko Franceschi), 2018 (WHW) and 2020 (Branka Benčić, Gerald Matt and Christian Oxenius), 4th edition will be curated by Paolo Bianchi and Christoph Doswald from Switzerland. They selected and invited 29 international artists to create new works, after conducting their artistic research in Istria, that will correspond to the theme and title of the 4th Biennale "Landscapes of Desire".

The locations and partners
The 4th edition of IAB, which will be organized in partnership with the Archaeological Museum of Istria (AMI), the Historical and Maritime Museum of Istria (PPMI) as well as the Gallery Cvajner in Pula, and with the Museum of Modern & Contemporary Art (MMSU) in Rijeka, will be again structured into 3 geographically separate but thematically interconnected exhibition complexes: Labin (Socio-Cultural Center “Lamparna”, ex-mining site Pijacal, City Museum, Cinema and several open public spaces in the Labin area) with the neighbouring ex-mining town of Raša (Cinema, ex- miners’ canteen, Church of St. Barbara, valley of the Rasa River), will function as the starting point and the core of the Biennale, from which it will expand toward Pula (AMI, PPMI, Augustus Temple, Gallery Amphitheater, Small Roman Theatre, Gallery Cvajner, Port of Pula, and a few open public spaces in the city) and Rijeka (MMSU, Korzo promenade).        

Following the path of previous biennials, it will again reflect the phenomena that shaped the social and cultural landscape of Istria and Rijeka, through more than 30 new art works designed and created in communication with local communities, with the active participation of numerous local actors, from children and ordinary citizens to artists and cultural workers, including several NGOs, local artisans and entrepreneurs.  

The curator's concept: Landscapes of Desire
The Industrial Revolution was not only followed by profound economic and social changes. It also led to a radical change in our understanding of art: Modernism, Futurism, Expressionism, and Impressionism are artistic reactions to the mechanisation of the world. New modes of expression were needed to understand the radical transformation of society. The 4th IAB reflects how the Istrian Peninsula, including the cities of Rijeka, Pula, Labin, and Raša, was particularly influenced in many ways by these processes and was home to an impressive number of pioneering personalities and initiatives – attempting to turn utopian ideas into reality.

Even today, many testimonies of visionary projects are visible and tangible in Istria. The civilizing achievement of the Pax Augusta (from 27 BC) manifests itself in the almost completely preserved Temple of Augustus in Pula, which is also described by Andrea Palladio in his architectural textbooks (I quattro libri dell architectura) as an ideal, perfect building. The mining town of Raša (Arsia), designed by the Jewish architect Gustavo Pulitzer-Finali on behalf of the Italian fascists, is a unique urbanistic ensemble from the period of Italian rationalism.

In the neighboring mining town of Labin (Pozzo Littorio), also rich in industrial-historical buildings, the Republic of Labin was proclaimed from March 2 to April 8, 1921 – a republic self-governed by miners and peasants during a strike, a participative project avant-la-lettre. The occupation of Rijeka (Fiume) by the Italian writer Gabriele D'Annunzio heralded a turbulent period of diverse political and nationalist visions after World War I, which manifested itself in a wild succession of government models in the Free City of Fiume.

With the leading feminist and reform pedagogue Giuseppina Martinuzzi (1844–1925) and the pioneer of space exploration Herman Potočnik Noordung (1892–1929), Istria has produced two other personalities whose visionary viewpoints and researches still impress today.

The 4th IAB focuses on the exploration of those Landscapes of Desire, in Istria and beyond.
With this narrative in mind, artists with different backgrounds were invited to develop on-site interventions, to undertake intensive field studies, and to research on specific utopian sources in a beautiful and rich territory. The exhibition-project is an innovative tribute to the utopian energy of the Istrian peninsula, with a focus on today's social, cultural, climate and economical challenges. Post-industrialization plays a particularly important role in the current period of upheaval in the Antropocene: the artists of the Biennale are addressing issues of economic sustainability, cultural diversity, climate change, and are relying on the power of networking to overcome the boundaries of political and social borders. Artworks are sensory tools and methods to successfully challenge thought patterns. We as curators' claim therefore: Artful thinking for a sustainable world. (Christoph Doswald & Paolo Bianchi, 2022)