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Spotlight on Central American Art.

THE SAO PAULO Biennial, the Venice Biennial, the New Orleans Biennial ... It seems that at any given moment, an art biennial is taking place somewhere on this planet. Even so, the Sixth Biennial of Visual Arts of the Central American Isthmus (BAVIC) was a rarity. In a world where most recurring art events are associated with a particular place, BAVIC hop-scotches from the capital of one Central American country to another.


Starting in Guatemala in 1998, the Central American Biennial has touched down successively in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, and El Salvador. For the sixth edition of the biennial, and its tenth anniversary, the arts spotlight was on Honduras. Tegucigalpa's Museum for National Identity, located in the former Palace of the Ministries, served as the principal venue.

Rotating the host city offers various groups an opportunity to organize the biennial. BAVIC 08 took place under the auspices of the Association of Women in Arts (MUA) and its executive director America Mejia. The private, non-profit organization is known as Mujeres en las Artes "Leticia de Oyuela" for the pioneering Honduran writer and intellectual who died in early 2008. The general coordinator is Bayardo Blandino, a Nicaraguan artist and curator who resides in Tegucigalpa and who co-founded the Contemporary Visual Arts Center of Women in the Arts (CAVC/MUA).

Originally conceived as the "Painting Biennial of the Central American Isthmus," the event has evolved to embrace a wider focus on contemporary art. Now the guidelines encourage "bi-dimensional or three-dimensional formats, including sculpture, art object assembly, video art, animations, net art, artistic photography, etc." The six participating countries sent six artists apiece to the exhibition who showed 72 works of art (with an occasional arts collective upending the mathematical symmetry).

The artists whose works appeared in BAVIC 08 had progressed through a vetting process that included a competition in their home country. Local sponsors, such as the Banco Promerica in Honduras and El Salvador, support a national art exhibition to select the artists who will advance to the regional biennial. In the case of Honduras, it was last summer's 2008 Visual Arts Biennial of Honduras (BAVH) that culminated in sending six artists to the Central American Biennial.

Other sponsors of the art exhibitions were the Ortiz Gurdian Foundation of Nicaragua, the Paiz Foundation for Education and Culture of Guatemala, Industrialists for Art of Costa Rica, and the Fernandez Pirla Foundation of Panama.

One sad note amid the celebrations of art was the absence of Panamanian artist and photographer Gustavo Araujo. The previous award-winner died suddenly in an accident shortly before the November opening of the biennial. He was represented posthumously by his last two works.

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Title Annotation:!Ojo!
Author:Wyels, Joyce Gregory
Publication:Americas (English Edition)
Geographic Code:20CEN
Date:Mar 1, 2009
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