VI Odessa Biennale of Contemporary Art

23 August —15 October 2019
Dear friends and colleagues!

In connection with the problems of financing the 6th Odessa Biennale of Contemporary Art by the grantors of Ukraine and Belgium, the organizers decided to abandon the event in 2019.

Let us express our gratitude to all the friendly organizations that took part in the preparation of the project as partners. We thank all colleagues who were interested in participating in the Biennale and those of them who have sent their work to the competition.

There is no doubt that in the future we will have fruitful cooperation and successful implementation of joint projects with you in various formats.

Sincerely yours,
Semen Kantor

From August 23 to October 15, 2019, the 6th Odessa Biennale of Contemporary Art will be held.

The organizer of the Odessa Biennale is the Museum of Odessa Modern Art. The Commissioner of the Biennale is Semen Kantor, Director of the Museum.
The theme of the Biennale is “Hotel Odessa”.
The Curator of the Main Project is Sonia Dermience (Belgium).
The project will be presented at the exhibition venues of museums, galleries and universities of Odessa, as well as in the public space of the city.
In addition to the exhibition project, it is planned to conduct a large educational program, including a seminar for curators “Europe is based on the interpretation of the ‘Other’”, panel discussions and other events.

The organizers invite Ukrainian curators to participate in the Biennale-2019 with special projects that are relevant to the Main Project.
Curatorial special projects proposals are accepted until March 1, 2019 by email: and will be reviewed by the curator of the Main Project until April 15, 2019.

Information about the Odessa Biennale can be found here:;

Biennale concept:

6th Odessa Biennale of Contemporary Art
Topic – “Hotel Odessa”
Curator – Sonia Dermience
23 August – 15 October 2019

Decoration is often considered to be a reflection of a poor relationship to Western Modern art, and so we turn the question in the other direction in order to use this notion as a reference to the habitat.

We develop this idea in the new Odessa Biennale show with a certain idea of expographie, which in French refers to the practice of exposition as a discourse; it is an exhibition that creates a space mimicking the setting of a house, desacralising its objects and inviting people to touch and interact with them freely, reflecting on a kind of habitat. A similar approach was presented by the exposition first curated by Komplot in Bozar Brussels in 2018.

How to inhabit a space, how our living spaces, which can be seen as protective envelopes after our body, are threatened by war or another precarious situation, and why many people are on the street. These issues affect us all, and in the face of inequality and injustice we feel the same sense of helplessness, tormented at the thought of losing what we have built.

This decorated second skin is a place of intimacy, creativity, sharing and hospitality, a place that we can create from scratch or that we can adapt using decorative objects in order to make it liveable. In other words, it is the setting of our lives, in the forms of a workplace, school, public space, businesses and recreational areas. We are the characters of these places that are steeped in history and are haunted by layers of life like archaeological sites. Everyday, we live in these places that we own, surrounding ourselves with furniture and also with the immaterial, including gestures, words and music that we sometimes share with plants and domesticated animals.

This exhibition traces the evolution of dwellings from one generation to the next, beginning with an example of a Soviet dwelling in Riga, a space intended for sharing among people and for building a relationship with nature, but turned into an unrealised utopia for the most part, scuttled in the totalitarian. In addition, we discover parallels with the supposed promise of a better life thanks to capitalism, which also damages our human nature and contributes to the overall indifference regarding the fate of the next homeless, undocumented, unemployed.

A glimmer of hope, however, survives in an exhibition that shows the trees as models of life, rooted and radiant. Starting from the utopia of grouped living spaces or decorated and tinkered houses, we arrive at the loft where the empty space is a luxury, an expression of perfectible and accessible uselessness. The colour white is an expression of ownership, of immateriality, of withdrawal from the reality of necessities, and the white wall is a support for modern art, one that is relegated to the closet of the history of obsolete contemporary art. The decorative object reigns in a universe completely adapted by the artists, the amateurs and the visitors.

The Hotel Odessa exhibition shows the influence of the context on the creation of artists and curators living in their locality and travelling around Europe. It is also documents practices that speak about insularity, isolation as much as connection, network and friendship.

Symptomatically, if the title Hotel Odessa refers to the hospitality concept of being together, we also reference, with a sense of black humor, to the real Odessa hotel in the passenger terminal in Odessa Sea Port, a high-rise building, inorganically invading the architectural ensemble of the Potemkin Stairs, which has not been functioning and has been remain empty since 2011.

Next to the exhibition, a seminar titled Europe is based on the interpretation of the ‘other’
will be organised by the Komplot School Of Curating in collaboration with amongst others Maija Rudovska (Letonia), Maria Arusoo (Estonia), Valentinas Klimasauskas (Lithuania), Stefaan Willems (Belgium) curators of the public program; With the motto « Our main product is society transformation». The animators, tutors, lecturers, participants will use the art of curating as an emancipation tool, creating a rupture from what could be associated with a productivist school of art.

Sonia Dermience (1971, BE), curator of 2019 Odessa Biennial, studied art history and has several positions as curator and editor next to being director of Komplot, a curatorial collective concerned with contextual creative practices, she co-founded in Brussels in 2002 Under the name of Catherine Vertige, she conducted extensive research into post '68 collaborative art practices in Belgium with seminars and the two documentary films ‘Sad In Country’. In 2009 Komplot founded the participative educational program The Public School Brussels, which is soon to become The Komplot School Of Curating. Between 2010 and 2015 Komplot was located in a converted warehouse dedicated to exhibitions, residencies and studios. Komplot published three issues of YEAR magazine between 2011 and 2013. Currently Komplot is redeveloping a nomadic practice in specific locations in Brussels and elsewhere. In 2015, Sonia Dermience re-initiated an individual curatorial practice with TRUST, The Copenhagen Arts Festival, at Charlottenborg Kunsthal, Nikolaj Kunsthal, Gammel Strand, Overgaden, Den Frie and other semi-public locations in Copenhagen.