This exhibition, organised by The International Association of Arts Critics (AICA) and the Centrale Électrique, Centre européen d’art contemporain de la Ville de Bruxelles, comprises work by 29 recent graduates from art schools in 22 European countries. It aims to raise the profile of young artists from all over Europe, by giving them a chance to demonstrate their potential, in ways that reveal both their common roots and their diversity of expression. In view of the high level of artistic exchange that already exists in Europe, it specifically seeks to give fresh opportunities to young artists just setting out on their careers to show in a different environment and interact with a new public.
This project is the fruit of the initiators’ collaboration with a selection of art schools in different countries and has been informed by a series of wide-ranging debates with staff from these schools. It has also benefited from the advice and information received from a network of art critics, curators, museum officials and gallery directors, who are closely involved with the contemporary art scene.
The exhibition was conceived by the International Bureau of AICA in Paris, with the help and support of AICA Ireland, AICA Denmark, AVCA Valencia and AICA Hellas, each of which organised an international seminar in their region, followed by an examination of artists’ dossiers. The final selection of work for the exhibition was made on the basis of around 170 submissions by young artists who had been recommended by a total of 40 art schools and of a subsequent dialogue with the artists who were short-listed.
At first sight, the works in the exhibition show a remarkable degree of homogeneity, given the variety of techniques employed, from painting, sculpture and photography to video, installations and all kinds of digital techniques. However, this should come as no surprise, considering that these young artists are all taking their first steps towards independence and away from the background provided by their art school training.
This is quite a sensitive project, in some respects, as it goes to the heart of the problems associated with artistic creation, public visibility and the factors determining its institutional recognition and validation by the art market.
If this event is to have any real success in promoting the work of the artists concerned, this will be because the criteria for selection relate closely to current thinking about contemporary art and the shared perceptions of critics and creators of what constitutes, respectively, the ‘local’ and the ‘global’. These artists pose problems in their work that are of an international nature, but seem to invite a ‘glocal’ response. In other words, they are at their best, when they can demonstrate the capacity to meld ‘local’ factors with reflexive mediation, in fashioning a ‘global’ discourse.
© Kristoffer AKSELBO, Mona Lisa Toaster, 2007