Aug 17, 2023 - Culture

Everything to know about Portland's arts biennial

An image of a exhibition featuring a photo of the Amazon river.

An image from "Broken Spectre" by Richard Mosse. Photo: Courtesy of Converge 45

A monthslong contemporary arts exhibition opens at multiple sites across Portland next week.

Driving the news: Converge 45, a local nonprofit with a mission to amplify the work of Pacific Northwest artists, launches its second art biennial, "Social Forms: Art as Global Citizenship," next Thursday.

  • Free exhibitions at 17 sites around Portland will feature 50 regional and international artists who work in a range of media.

Why it matters: Organizers hope the free exhibits will attract visitors and bring an economic boost to many neighborhoods.

What they're saying: Derek Franklin, the artistic director of Converge 45, says it's a chance to help Portland move forward.

  • "We're a very small cog in that, but I think people being out is helpful in many ways," he told Axios, such as spending money at local businesses and restaurants.
  • Converge 45 expects a much larger turnout for this year's event, thanks to a big marketing push, more exhibitions and a robust selection of renowned artists. The last time Converge held a similar event, in 2018, it was "a much smaller production," according to Franklin.

Details: Curated by Chilean-American writer Christian Viveros-Fauné, the biennial's concept is inspired by "what artists have done to activate ideas around political change," Franklin said.

  • The biennial's main focus is to provide free access to works by internationally acclaimed artists, including many who are showing in Portland for the first time, he added.

Here are some of the shows taking place across the city:

  • Tavares Strachan's neon sculpture at Oregon Contemporary tells the story of Cuban revolutionary Camilo Cienfuegos, considered to be one of the heroes of the country's revolution in the 1950s.
  • Los Angeles-based artist Amanda Ross-Ho reflects on her experience as a classically trained figure skater through a performance inspired by the Lloyd Center ice rink's connection to Tonya Harding, the infamous Olympian who learned to skate there.
  • Chilean Mapuche artist Seba Calfuqueo will screen a single-channel video of them performing rituals of masculinity in high heels around Santiago, Chile, at the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art.

What's next: Shows open at various times next weekend, and close on different schedules beginning in October.


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