Warmth is the Fifth Dimension

written by Željko Kipke


In his se­cond Bien­na­le man­da­te, Ha­rald Szee­mann has wa­te­red down the old story abo­ut the “hu­ma­ne” cha­rac­ter of ar­ti­stic ac­tion. He had la­unc­hed it at the pre­vio­us 48th Bien­na­le that num­be­red mo­re in­vi­ted wo­men than ma­le ar­tists. He has now ex­ten­ded the ex­hi­bi­tion area in Ar­se­na­le, but has al­so clearly re­tur­ned to the roots of ge­samt­kunstwerk which has ear­ned him a di­stin­gui­shed pla­ce among cu­ra­tors. Beuys’s ap­pea­ran­ce at the pre­vio­us Ex­hi­bi­tion was con­spi­cuo­us and in­tri­guing, yet the old/new di­rec­tor of the Vi­sual Arts Sec­tion de­ci­ded to po­stpo­ne the ef­fect for la­ter, re­vea­ling thus a lack of stra­te­gic judg­ment. I am afraid that Beuys’s ma­gi­cal pre­sen­ce at this 49th Bien­na­le was not as sug­ge­sti­ve as the one two years ear­lier in the Giar­di­ni and Ar­se­na­le cor­ri­dors. Even mo­re so as the fifth di­men­sion, that is, warmth – Szee­mann was full of it in ex­plai­ning why he had inc­lu­ded Beuys’s in­stal­la­tion in this year’s Ex­hi­bi­tion – was far mo­re in­ten­se back then than it is now when vi­si­tors can walk between scat­te­red ba­salt blocks which sug­gest “The End of the Twen­tieth Cen­tury”, as the aut­hor na­med them, and the jo­ur­ney in­to the new.