The Bermuda Biennial: A Retrospective

Works From The Collection

2022 sees the opening of the 15th Bermuda Biennial, a critical platform for our island’s living artists and, with it, a celebration of thirty years of contemporary Bermuda art. Generously sponsored by Bacardi Limited since 1998, the Biennial provides a unique cultural cornerstone for Bermuda.  

Recognized by the International Biennial Association, and with works selected by a rotating cast of overseas jurors, the BNG’s flagship exhibition provides local artists with the opportunity to have their work seen by some of the foremost art professionals in the world and shines an international spotlight on our people, our places, our stories and our future.

The first Bermuda Biennial was held in 1994, with the jury led by contemporary American artist Janet Fish, who grew up in Bermuda. Since then, jurors have come from organizations across the Caribbean, including the National Gallery of Jamaica and the National Gallery of the Bahamas, alongside a range of U.S. institutions such as the Chicago Art Institute, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Smithsonian.

This exhibition presents a selection of artworks produced for the Biennial which have been collected by the Bermuda National Gallery over the last three decades, providing an insight into the evolution of contemporary art in Bermuda. In reflection of the diversity of both materials and ideas for which the Biennial is known, there are a wide range of mediums on display.

As Dr Daniel Rosenfeld, co-curator of the 1998 Bermuda Biennial and former Academy Professor of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, wrote in the exhibition catalogue that year: “The modern Biennial is a distant cousin of the annual salons that flourished in Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries. Whereas the ancestor characteristically embraced the status quo, the descendant exhibits a fine disregard of the predictable and the familiar.” Praising Bermuda’s vibrant cultural community, Dr Rosenfeld went on to explain that a Biennial is unique in its approach as “a type of exhibition which questions our assumptions about the nature and limits of artistic expression.”

Photographs by Brandon Morrison.
 

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