The bleakness of nihilism seems like an odd theme for an exhibition, let alone a biennial featuring the work of over 60 artists, but the team behind art book publisher Endless Editions has done precisely that for the 2016 edition of their Endless Biennial.
Something of a ‘pop-up biennial’ (on view for just under two weeks in the modest space of Chelsea’s Gallery 20/20), the Endless Biennial is remarkable not only for its unusual theme but for the nature of the work on view. The included submissions were entirely open call, in contrast to the high-entry barriers that usually characterize biennials. “The show was curated, but I would not consider it juried. Almost 100% of the applications ended up in the show,” tells Paul John, one of the founders of Endless Editions. “We tried to fit in as many artists as we could, but the gallery is not that big. We essentially fit over 60 works in 50 feet of wall space”
Now celebrating its 3rd edition, the biennial is filled to the brim with sculptures, wall works, and video installations, with a sprinkling of musical performance and performance art on the opening night (that ultimately led to the exhibition receiving noise complaints, the founders mention gleefully) for good measure. Crammed tightly but neatly into the small space, the show possesses a DIY quality that feels welcoming and deliberately unpretentious. There is no hierarchy at play here; Sarah Nicole Phillips' Little Brown Barf Bag literally collides with another hanging work, as if emphatically negating any sense of individual artist narcissism to elevate a collective creative outburst.
Indeed, a sense of community seems to be at the forefront of the Endless Biennial, which started as a somewhat grassroots showcase of local artists: “The first exhibition of Endless was just a group show of like-minded artists. We all came out of school together feeling like a community of artists who wanted to work in different systems using different lenses,” John explains to The Creators Project.
“We hosted that show at Chashama space on 37th street and had daily performances, music, and a rotating exhibition for a week. The biggest difference in this iteration of the exhibition was the concept of an open-call. We had been thinking about what it means to have an open call and also were beginning our publishing project as a means to subvert the commodity fetishization of collecting art,” adds John.
“Democratizing art is a main goal of the Endless Biennial. By having an open call, we have the ability to extend whatever help we can offer over the furthest distance,” adds the rest of the Endless team (a mass of dozens of individuals). “Endless Editions has always focused on the artist and providing a resource for that community through artist books, publications, or events.”
The 2016 edition of the Endless Biennial will only be on view until January 11th, but documentation of the show as well as information on the editions and periodicals produced by Endless can be found in detail here.