Biennial Curious

Dallas Biennial moves out of virtual world and into top local art spaces

Dallas Biennial moves out of virtual world and into top art spaces

Alterazioni Video
Alterazioni Video, Greetings from Kyrgyzstan, 2014. Photo courtesy of DB14
Thomas Lawson
Thomas Lawson, Hands Off, 2012, oil on canvas, 30 x 24 in. Photo courtesy of David Kordansky Gallery
Thomas Lawson
Thomas Lawson, Shot for a Bike, 1981, oil on linen, 48 x 48 in. Photo by Fredrik Nilson/Courtesy of David Kordansky Gallery
Alterazioni Video
Thomas Lawson
Thomas Lawson

When faced with a big idea and a lack of budget, Dallas Biennial founders Jesse Morgan Barnett and Michael Mazurek came up with what could only be called a very artistic solution. Conceptualizing their artist-run nonprofit debut in 2011, the duo decided to explore the notion of a Biennial within a mostly virtual world. This iteration (DB12 Volume 1-4) ran for two consecutive years at Dallasbiennial.org.

“Examining the notion of a Biennial without the constraints of location or time was a nice way to segue us into getting artists to participate,” Barnett explains. “We had a web-based exhibition and a small space in the back of Oliver Francis Gallery, which coincided with the ‘Dallas Biennale’ exhibition at the Dallas Contemporary.”

 DB14’s series of exhibitions, performances and lectures around Dallas, showcasing the work of 50 national and international talents, takes place this February through May.

Barnett and Mazurek, who met when working on their masters in intermedia at the University of Texas Arlington, created DB12 to be its own work of art. This experiment was successful enough for the founders to be invited by SMU’s art professor and chair Michael Corris to participate in the “Dallas Pavilion” at the Venice Biennale.

A publication rather than an actual physical space, the “Dallas Pavilion” was a creative leap for the duo, who decided to bring their first three-dimensional Biennial into some of the top art spaces in the city.

“As we’ve gained some momentum and built relationships with artists, we wanted to examine the physicality and logistics of a Biennial in the flesh,” Barnett says. “It seemed a natural sequence to move away from the virtual. It was a lot of just reaching out and asking different Dallas venues if they’d be willing to participate.”

The Power Station, McKinney Avenue Contemporary, Oliver Francis Gallery, BEEFHAUS Gallery, CentralTrak, and Eastfield and Richland colleges all readily agreed, as did the publication Semigloss and a few warehouses, storefronts and office spaces scattered across the city. DB14’s series of exhibitions, performances and lectures showcasing the work of 50 national and international talents takes place this February through May.

The Goss-Michael Foundation hosts one of DB14’s many opening receptions on Saturday, February 1, from 6 to 8, along with a “Retrospective” by acclaimed critical theorist/artist Thomas Lawson and a group exhibition of work from Conrad Atkinson, Derek Boshier, Joseph Grigely, Stephen Lapthisophon, Adrian Piper and Martha Rosier.

Goss-Michael associate director Ariel Saldivar says DB14 is a welcome addition to Dallas’ artistic community. “It’s only their second year to do this, and I was really impressed with the online format. They wanted to take it to the next level, and they got a grant and asked us to partner with them.

“There’s a level of significance to the artists they’re bringing in, and it’s the first time all the institutions have come together.”

Barnett and Mazurek — working artists and teachers at UTA and Richland College, respectively — hope that the scope of work and methodologies offered can sustain the Dallas Biennial throughout the years, allowing it to thrive as it informs their own artistic practice. 

“It’s ongoing for us; we’re invested in it for the long haul,” Barnett says. “ We’d like to continue to work on it as long as we can and pas it off to someone else when we are old and gray.”

For news and events related to DB14, visit Dallasbiennial.org.