After its success at the National Gallery Singapore last year, with more than 200,000 enthusiastic visitors, the Children's Biennale is now coming to Europe for the first time.
At the Biennale in Dresden, members of the public are invited to enter an artistic terrain, to get in touch with their creative side and to leave behind the usually somewhat passive role of the museum visitor. This year's topic, "Dreams & Stories", explores the wondrous and dreamlike side of art.
To this end, nine regional and international artists as well as an art collective from Japan are transforming the ground floor of the Japanisches Palais into a fantastical place in which visitors are moved to see, hear, feel and get involved. Interactive and participatory artworks are arranged along a trail, prompting visitors to think at different levels about fictional and real worlds and the connection between the two. As this unfolds, the public takes an active part in co-creating the space.
The art collective teamLab represent this practice like no one else. Their work "Sketch Aquarium" creates an interactive world which develops a life of its own, a world in which visitors can experience digital art through collaborative creation. The fish, drawn by the public and later scanned, swim in an enormous digital aquarium, a testament to inexhaustible human creativity.
For the Dresden artist Stephanie Lüning (b. 1978 in Schwerin), colours and forms are equally central. Lüning created a studio and a laboratory for the Children’s Biennale in which both she herself and anyone who cares to can get creative, experimenting with coloured ice cubes that are available in a freezer.
Visions of the future are juxtaposed with the past, which forms an equally important focus at the Children's Biennale. In her video work "Resounding (Infrared)" American artist Susan Hiller (b. 1940 in Tallahassee, Florida) collects archival material about the big bang along with different voices speaking about it. In an anthropological, almost psychoanalytical manner, Hiller delves into how our individual memory is influenced by collective memory, exploring the ways in which history and the past are constructed.
A further room will be transformed by the artist Rivane Neuenschwander, who was born in Brazil in 1967. In her "Allegory of fear", she deals with the fears of children. In workshops she held in Bogotá this year, Neuenschwander collected impressions and fears and then processed these in her creative work. The presentation in Dresden will allow the figurations of fear to be moved by means of light projections and personal stories to be projected as shadow images on the walls.
For her part, the performance artist Lynn Lu (b. 1974 in Singapore), with her installation "This Changed my Life", collects people's decisive and drastic experiences, asking them to inscribe them on a narrow strip of cloth so as to make the experience visible for others. Her installation "Duplet" addresses children, asking them everything from which hero they would perhaps like to be, to which memory they hold dear, to what dreams they have that have yet to come true.
“How do we apprehend reality?” This is the question asked by artist Mark Justiniani, who plays with human perception in his mirror installation. In his works he explores human vision and how the individual is shaped by his surroundings, using materials such as mirrors and glass to do so. His installation "Well" prompts us to pause and discover the objects present in the depth of the infinitely self-reflecting floor.
The French artist Véronique Joumard (b. 1967 in Grenoble) also questions people’s personal surroundings and how they are perceived. The thermo-sensitive orange paint she uses on the museum wall changes its hue depending on people’s body temperatures, allowing them – if only temporarily – to leave something of themselves behind in the exhibition. In a further installation "Objets volants", Joumard puts gravity to the test, causing seating furniture to hover in the air.
Visitors can expect a further high point in mid-November: approximately three tonnes of white Lego blocks will be made available to create the vision of a future city. The work bears the title "The cubic structural evolution project" and comes from the Danish-Islandic artist Ólafur Elíasson, who has won the enthusiasm of people around the world with his large-scale projects. In Dresden, people will have the opportunity to integrate their own thoughts, ideas, memories, desires and fears into the artwork, thus becoming co-authors of the project.
At the end of the trail, there is a workshop space. Here, visitors may find creative expression for what they saw, experienced and heard. Also, a colouring book for children will be published in conjunction with the exhibition, specially designed by the Dresden artist Jan Kunze.