Contour Biennale 8- Polyphonic Worlds: Justice as Medium

Contour, Mechelen, Belgium
11 Mar 2017 - 21 May 2017

Otobong Nkanga, Remains of the Green Hill (still), 2015. Video, 5:48 minutes. Courtesy of the artist and Kadist, Paris.

Otobong Nkanga, Remains of the Green Hill (still), 2015. Video, 5:48 minutes. Courtesy of the artist and Kadist, Paris.


Contour Biennale 8 Polyphonic Worlds: Justice as Medium evolves in drawing relations between contemporary artistic practice and the course of social justice against the 400-year old juridical past of Mechelen’s Great Council—Europe’s first courthouse.

From the vestiges of this judicial infrastructure, what might it mean to survey the field of social justice and its implements as media archaeology such that justice itself is considered a « medium » that is simultaneously a performative, ethical and aesthetic operation.

With the limits of justice now unraveling in a volatile crisis of ethics in the global present, Contour Biennale 8 engages a polyphonic view that recalls the acoustic history of the Lowlands while presenting a notational landscape that is multiphonic, carrying overtones that are heard as a plural consciousness, and at times as states of discord. This biennial sets out to question the preconceived boundaries between the perception of legality and illegality within today’s experience of statehood.

The eighth biennale edition includes several newly commissioned film-based works and artistic projects by 25 artists and collectives.

Artists and collectives: Adelita Husni-Bey, Agency, Ana Torfs, Arvo Leo, Basir Mahmood, Beatriz Santiago Muñoz, Cooking Sections, Council, Eric Baudelaire, Filipa César and Louis Henderson, Ho Tzu Nyen, inhabitants, Judy Radul, Karrabing Film Collective, Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Madonna Staunton, Otobong Nkanga, Pallavi Paul, Pedro Gómez-Egaña, Rana Hamadeh, Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam, Rossella Biscotti, Susanne M. Winterling, Trevor Paglen, Trinh Thi Nguyen

Curator: Natasha Ginwala

Advisers: Judy Radul and Denise Ferreira da Silva
Exhibition Architect: Richard Venlet
Assistant Curator: Krisztina Hunya

Biennale venues:
De Garage (starting point)—Onder den Toren 12
Alderman’s House (Schepenhuis)—Steenweg 1
Court of Savoy—Keizerstraat 20
House of the Great Salmon—Zoutwerf 5
House De Clippel—Korenmarkt 6
Warehouse and Co-working Space—Battelsesteenweg 50

Public programme / DAI Roaming Assembly

Planetary Records: Performing Justice Between Art and Law
March 11–12, 11am–8pm

Holy Ghost Chapel and House—Onder den Toren 12
Cultural Center of Mechelen—Minderbroedersgang 5
De Maan Theatre—Minderbroedersgang 3

Join us for the opening weekend public programme / DAI Roaming Assembly #12 of lectures, film screenings, and performances, Planetary Records: Performing Justice Between Art and Law featuring Beatriz Santiago Muñoz, Susanne M. Winterling, Susan Schuppli, Elizabeth A. Povinelli, Judy Radul, Ana Torfs, Sven Lütticken, Council, Filipa César and Louis Henderson, Denise Ferreira da Silva, inhabitants, Michel Feher, Wendelien van Oldenborgh, and Rana Hamadeh

Curators: Natasha Ginwala and Rachel O’ Reilly
Programme Coordinators: Sofia Lemos and Nikos Doulos

Full programme schedule is available on our website.

Hearings: A Reader will be launched at the opening of Contour Biennale 8. Initiated as an online journal of the biennale in May 2016 it has taken shape as a periodically updated resource tracing the artistic process, conceptual approach and historical research through textual as well as image and video-based contributions from a range of artists, filmmakers, thinkers and authors. Hearings is considered a polyphonic happening where established notions of representative truth and fiction, the nature of evidence, testimonial production and the apparatus of justice are critically re-examined.

Editor: Natasha Ginwala
Co-published by Contour Biennale 8 and Sternberg Press

March 2017, English
15x22cm, 248 pages, color and b/w ill., softcover
ISBN: 978-3-95679-297-7
Design: Studio Remco van Bladel

Featuring texts and illustrated contributions by Denise Ferreira da Silva, Elizabeth A. Povinelli, inhabitants, Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Agency, Judy Radul, Sven Lütticken, Beatriz Santiago Muñoz, Ana Torfs, Pallavi Paul and Anish Ahluwalia, Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam, Trinh Thi Nguyen, Basir Mahmood, Susanne M. Winterling and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, T. J. Demos, Louis Henderson and Filipa César, Rossella Biscotti, Adelita Husni-Bey, Madonna Staunton, Arvo Leo, Council, Eric Baudelaire, Ho Tzu Nyen, Otobong Nkanga, Pedro Gómez-Egaña, Rana Hamadeh, Trevor Paglen, Samuel Mareel, Dirk de Meyer, Cooking Sections, Ghassan Zaqtan.