The Panama Art Bienale is here!

Every year, around September, a group of artists present their work at the Contemporary Art Museum. This year, several “Casco Addicts” are competing: film directors Abner Benhaim and Enrique Castro Ríos. Other years have had photographer Rachelle Mozman, who is also a Casco resident.

So check it out: http://www.bienalpanama.org/index1_I.html

Here is the program of activities announced in their web:

PROGRAM OF ACTIVITIES 2008

Art exhibition of the 8th Biennial

From September 9th to October 21st, the Panama Art Biennial will present works by
13 local and international artists chosen by Mexican curator Magali Arriola. The participating
artists are: Abner Benaim, Enrique Castro Ríos, Donna Conlon, Jonathan Harker, Rich
Potter, and Ramón Zafrani, all based in Panama, and Humberto Vélez, Panamanian artist
resident in London; the U.S. artists Sam Durant and Richard Prince (who was born in
the Canal Zone); Francis Alÿs (Belgian based in Mexico) and three artists who reside
in Berlin, Germany: Sean Snyder (from the U.S.), Román Ondak (from Slovakia) y Michael
Stevenson (from New Zealand).

For the first time, the Biennial will have a specific theme: the former Panama Canal
Zone.

The Zone, Revisited: a conversation with the artists
and the organizers of the Panama Art Biennial

The Biennial’s participating artists and the event’s organizers will exchange ideas
with each other and with the audience about their works, analyzing the way in which
the exhibition as a whole develops the proposed curatorial theme.

Exhibition Garden City: Progressive Planning and
the Panama Canal

An exhibition produced by Kurt Dillon, Roger Trancik, and Sam Sweezy for the College
of Architecture, Art and Planning at Cornell University (New York). The exhibition
presents a view of the urban system in the Canal Zone, situating its development within
a particular tradition of urban and regional planning, and focusing on the work of
North American professionals and intellectuals such as Clarence Stein, Frederick Law
Olmsted, and others, whose ideas influenced urban development in the Canal Zone. The
exhibition consists of 30 photographs, as well as bilingual text panels (Spanish and
English). The exhibition’s creators will present a lecture about the exhibition as
part of the Biennial’s conference program

Academic Conferences
The Panama Canal Area: A Cultural Heritage Site of Worldwide Importance

As part of its eighth edition, the Panama Art Biennial is organizing Academic Conferences
focused on analyzing the patrimonial values of the urban and regional design in the
Panama Canal area, currently considered an endangered cultural heritage site of worldwide
importance.

The conference is being organized in collaboration with the World Monuments Fund and
three Panamanian universities, and will include a large number of students, professors,
and professionals from the fields of architecture, history, and fine arts.

Garden City: Progressive Planning and the Panama Canal

Kurt Dillon, Roger Trancik y Sam Sweezy will present a view of
the urban system in the Canal Zone, situating its development within a particular
tradition of urban and regional planning, and focusing on the work of North American
professionals and intellectuals such as Clarence Stein, Frederick Law Olmsted, and
others, whose work had an influence on the urban form of the Canal Zone.

The Panama Canal Area as an Endangered Cultural Heritage Site
of Worldwide Importance


Architect Eduardo Tejeira will present a conference about the
dossier presented to the World Monuments Fund in 2003 regarding including the area
around the Panama Canal in the World Monuments Watch List of the 100 Most Endangered
Cultural Sites.

Initiatives in Conservation and Evaluation of the Panama Canal
Area sponsored by the World Monuments Fund


Architects Almyr Alba and Kurt Dillon will present information
about the projects in Panama that have been developed with the support of the World
Monuments Fund: Planning for Gamboa, and the conservation of the monumental sites
of Forts San Lorenzo and Portobelo.

The Role of Summit Gardens in Canal Zone Landscaping

Charlotte Elton, an economist and specialist in matters related
to sustainable development, will present a lecture about how Summit Gardens (in a
manner similar to other colonial botanical gardens in the 19th Century and early 20th
Century) introduced to Panama a collection of plants with economic, military, and
ornamental uses, from all over the world.

Conference by Panamanian architect Eduardo Tejeira about El
Marañón


Eduardo Tejeira, a specialist in Architectural History, will
present a lecture about the now defunct neighborhood of El Marañón, which was planned
and built during the construction of the Panama Canal for Afro-Antillean immigrant
workers.

Cara a Cara – Face to Face: Panama City and the Canal Zone,
1904-1999


Carol McMichael Reese, a Professor at the Tulane University School
of Architecture (New Orleans, USA) and Thomas Reese, Director of Tulane University’s
Latin American Studies Center, will hold a conference and discussion with the public

The Canal Zone: A Fractured City, an Imagined Nation, and Transnational
Culture in Panama (1913-1977)


Luis Pulido Ritter, a Panamanian sociologist and writer
who resides in Berlin, Germany, will lecture about themes related to the collective
imaginary of Panamanians, in a conference that considers historical, literary and
cultural points of view.

Presentation of Canal Zone (1976), a documentary by Frederic Wiseman

This documentary about U.S. citizens who lived and worked in the Canal Zone sheds
light on their lifestyle and different aspects of their civilian government, as well
as on the work of the military forces, thereby portraying the social structure of
the so-called Zonians. Wiseman has been acknowledged over the past three decades as
one of the most important filmmakers in the United States.

Brooke Alfaro: Recent Paintings

Within the framework of the Biennial, Panama’s well known artist Brooke Alfaro will
present, for the first time in several years, an exhibition of his paintings.

Brooke Alfaro (Panama 1949) graduated in 1976 as an architect from the University
of Panama. He studied painting at the Art Students League in New York from 1980 to
1983. Since the early 1990s, his painting evolved from a technique close to the classical
masters towards a radical transformation in form with the aim not only of manipulating
pictorial space, but of expressing specific spiritual and psychological states. Both
in his paintings and his videos (a medium he has worked in since 1999), a major part
has been played by Alfaro’s humble neighbors from the historic area of San Felipe,
where the artist used to live and continues to visit. In both genres, he employs a
caustic sense of humor and deceptive jokes that subvert the possible interpretations
of his artwork. (A.Samos)

ACTIVITIES IN 2007

Educational Workshops about Contemporary Art Practices

The 8th Biennial will develop, during 2007 and 2008, a program of educational activities
directed at compensating, at least in part, for the lack of opportunities available
for learning about contemporary art in Panama. A total of 35 participants took part
in the two workshops carried out in 2007, including artists, art professors, and others
interested in improving their artistic education. The workshops were:

Art Photography Appreciation Workshop. A one-week course
on the theory and history of photography, with the participation of fifteen artists,
taught by well-known Panamanian artist and photographer Rachelle Mozman.

Seminar: “Reflections on contemporary Art”. A one-week
course on the theory and history of contemporary art, with the participation of twenty
artists and art professors, taught by Saidel Brito, Academic Coordinator of the prestigious
Instituto Superior Tecnológico de Artes del Ecuador (ITAE), located in Guayaquil.

Premiere presentation of the documentary Curundú by Ana Endara

Produced between 2006 and 2007, with the sponsorship of the Fondo de Fomento al Audiovisual
de Centroamérica y el Caribe, Curundú is the opera prima of young Panamanian filmmaker
Ana Endara. Its premiere and a round table discussion about the film were held on
the 4th of December 2007 at the historic Ancon Theater Guild. Kenneth, the main character,
is a charismatic figure who earns his living by taking pictures of his neighbors in
Curundú, an overpopulated and precarious community, located not too far from the historic
center of Panama City, on the edge of the former Canal Zone. The documentary speaks
to us about Curundú through Kenneth and his photos.

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