Creativity in uncertain times

Inspired by the philosophical issues raised by ancient and contemporary intellectuals, the 2nd Thessaloniki Biennale of Contemporary Art opens this Sunday. Borrowing its title, «Praxis: Art in Times of Uncertainty,» from Terry Eagleton’s «After Theory» (2003), the biennale showcases creativity as an act of power, expressing a multitude of questions, particularly during these times of economic and social uncertainty. About 200 artists from 39 countries are to attend the Thessaloniki meeting. At the event’s core lies a body of work by 57 Greek and foreign artists, many of whom were especially produced for the Thessaloniki show. The works are accompanied by a series of parallel events, including exhibitions, performances and other activities that will unfold during the four-month visual arts meeting to take place at 28 venues around the city. The biennale is curated by Argentina’s Gabriela Salgado, Nigeria’s Bisi Silva and Greece’s Syrago Tsiara. «Art in Uncertain Times» brings to the city artists and groups from Latin America, Africa and Asia – creative people who do not always enjoy easy access to such events back home, in Europe or the rest of the world. «A biennale is not solely about selecting the artists and their work. It’s also about the unseen, unexpected difficulties. There were artists from China and Nigeria who didn’t manage to get visas, while works from China never made it to Thessaloniki due to censorship,» disclosed Maria Tsantsanoglou, director of the State Museum of Contemporary Art. Among the works that did make it, however, is a work by Sheng Qi. The artist is well known for a personal act of resistance, when, in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square events in 1989, he cut off the little finger of his left hand. Since then, he has incorporated the idea of self-mutilation into his work, which also includes photography, paintings, sculpture and performance art. For more information on the event, visit