1st Danube Biennale -- International exhibition of young artists from the Danube Countries

How does the Danube flow? This simple question would probably surprise many people who look daily at its waters washing the banks of their cities. Ten countries rightly claim the Danube to be ‘their river’. On its 2840 km long journey, the Danube flows through Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine and Moldavia. The idea of organising an international exhibition of young artists from the countries of the Danube region – connected by this great river – under the title ‘Danube Biennale’ was not based on topographical links but rather on other forms of human communication. The remains of Roman fortified towns scattered along its banks acknowledge the importance of the river in the conquest of the new worlds and the spread of knowledge. Although there are more sophisticated means of communication today, the ‘site specific’ and its context acquire a new content and possibilities of interpretation. Nowadays, hundreds of biennial, triennial and quadrennial exhibitions are held around the world, each of them attempting to present its own image, to distinguish itself from the others by its character, orientation, theme and content. The chosen basic principle of the ‘site specific’ as a trademark of the Danube Biennale attaches significance to this event.

In this context I remember perhaps a forgotten experiment to organise a biennial exhibition of young artists in Bratislava under the title Danuvius in 1968. At that time it was a major exhibition with the participation of leading international artists, but it ended up ‘under the drive wheels of tanks’. In the following decades major changes occurred not only in the visual arts but also in the field of aesthetics and philosophy. An increasing number of young people are concerned with art and have the ambition to express and present their work here and now. We are delighted by the present initiative which somehow revives this old-new idea and establishes a new tradition of exhibitions of young art in new conditions. The project has met with a favourable response in Slovakia and in participating countries. It has gained support of the embassies of the respective countries and their cultural centres and institutions, art galleries and associations. The participation of artists in the biennial has been guaranteed by the curators from the individual countries who nominated young artists up to the age of 35 from a wide range of the visual arts without placing restrictions on techniques and media. Each artist can present two works. The selection of Slovak artists has been made by a special committee which will judge the work of registered artists and nominate the participants in the biennale. The international jury will award the Grand Prix for the best exhibiting artist in the show.

The exhibition is expected to be held as a biennial event. We hope that it will assume a distinctive character created in close international cooperation and coordination and reflect the development of the art scene.

Eva Trojanová