Statement on BB2020's schedule and format
As we all know, this year has so far been a difficult one. Some months have been lost to an ongoing physical/emotional/mental lock-down/shut-down/restriction. The aftermath of that is only just beginning as we all struggle to ‘make up for lost time’ while at the same time trying to take stock of an altered, unfamiliar and uncertain landscape.
We at the BB Team have been trying to keep a finger on the trajectory of things here in Thailand, as well as abroad, towards planning our 2nd edition of the Bangkok Biennial. We have received a lot of input from many of you (much thanks!) as well as realistically looking at what we can do to continue Bangkok Biennial 2020 (BB2020).
After much discussion, we have decided to take a new approach to the 2nd edition of Bangkok Biennial by splitting BB2020 between three time-based contexts and taking a sequential/episodic/modular approach to the biennial format over the course of a year.
This decision comes as both reactive and proactive. The Bangkok Biennial is made up of whatever is made by all the people who choose to join it in any given situation and so it is a way to look at the state of contemporary art in the time that it happens, every time it happens. In effect, it is organically shaped by the context of the time in which it takes place, by the zeitgeist. With such radical changes we have seen in the world in the past months, we do not believe it is possible to look at the situation in any depth in such a short period as we have left in the year 2020. We believe that a prolonged biennial in this episodic format will allow for a diversity of pavilion-making by allowing for pavilions to work within the most suitable time for their activities. We believe this will allow the BB2020-as-a-whole to speak in more depth to this contemporeality in which we have all found ourselves.
On a practical level, we have found that the concerns of people who have been working on pavilions for BB2020 vary greatly (which is no great surprise!). After identifying many of the key concerns, we believe that allowing for three different time-contexts will help to diversify the composition of the biennial (as made up of the sum of its pavilions) and also allow for an examination of ‘new-normal’ approaches to exhibition-making, performance-presentation and other forms of public activity within three assumedly different time-based contexts over the next year.
We believe this approach will allow pavilions more flexibility to best adapt their activities as they see fit. Pavilions need not span all three periods nor even the full duration of a single period. It is likely that the three periods of BB2020 will be completely different from one another.
We feel this approach allows us to continue in the current context of the global pandemic and in continuity with our core concept of horizontal decentralization. We also find this is in line with our first edition.
If we look back at Bangkok Biennial 2018, we see that there were a great variety of approaches to pavilion-making, even when it came to scheduling; some pavilions ran for the entire dates of BB2018, others had shorter periods, some lasted only 1 or 2 days, some had only 3 or 4 dates spread out over the 3 months of BB2018. And yet others scheduled their activities completely outside the ‘official’ schedule of the Bangkok Biennial (a notable pavilion taking this approach was Khon Kaen Manifesto). Furthermore, many pavilions were not in the city of Bangkok, or even not in Thailand. BB2018 had a number of pavilions mounted in other countries, including Japan, Taiwan, The Netherlands, France and Germany, not to mention our Online pavilions. All of this results from, and reinforces our non-centralized structure.
These approaches have now become even more important. This flexibility and adaptability has now become even more important.
We also feel this approach of temporal decentralization leaves questions of public safety to be decided by the makers of each pavilion according to their own activities, rather than we (as central organizers) make a sweeping decision that affects all pavilions. Not all pavilions face the same challenges in this regard. We expect this will allow for a greater variety of approaches to dealing with one of the biggest questions facing the arts right now: how to proceed with public presentation of art in a pandemic?
And so… we are pleased to be able to announce the dates for Bangkok Biennial 2020:
1 – Oct 31st-Nov 21st 2020,
2 – March 13th-April 3rd 2021
3 – Sept 17th-Oct 9th 2021
You can now start to register your pavilion here: LINKLINK
Please feel free to write to us at