Introduction: Socle du Monde Biennale 2017


Introduction: Socle du Monde Biennale 2017


Socle du Monde can be found in Herning at HEART. It is a sculpture made out of steel, and its subtle cubic shape makes it quite unprepossessing at first glance. For the uninitiated, it is easy to feel that something is missing. For this is a plinth, a base – a pedestal specifically intended to carry and accentuate something special, but in this case a sense of absence prevails. A pedestal can be described as a combination of an exclamation mark and a colon, drawn out into three dimensions. In the world of art the base or pedestal informs us that the object it holds aloft is a piece of art – something powerful and important – just in case we were not entirely sure.

The world turned upside down

Piero Manzoni had his base of the world made in 1961 during his second sojourn in Herning. As we observe the small, squat base we are initially likely to make the mistake of thinking that we are looking at a work of art. But then we make a mental somersault, realising that we ourselves, and all the rest of the globe, are being exhibited as art! The work is in itself almost invisible, and in all its simple anonymity the base serves the same purpose of all bases used in exhibitions: to direct our attention to the most important thing.

The 2017 edition of the Socle du Monde Biennial explores the artistic universe of Piero Manzoni. A stellar array of internationally acclaimed artists and curators take Manzoni’s boundary-breaking art as their starting point, contributing contemporary as well as historic angles on the subject.

Piero Manzoni’s art – which addresses themes such as identity, spirit, light, body, faeces, space, time, birth and earth – is the starting point that binds together the entire biennial. Contemporary artists join artists who are no longer with us to create a web of works that cut across each other, challenging and discussing our concepts of art – all very much in the spirit of Manzoni.

Just like Manzoni’s world-famous work Merda d’artista (Artist’s Shit) elevates shit to the status of art, Socle du Monde (Base of the World) turns the entire world into a work of art. Manzoni pushes back the boundaries of what we can perceive as art, and this idea is the starting point of the 2017 Socle du Monde Biennial.

Engaging Manzoni in a dialogue

The 2017 Socle du Monde Biennial unfolds itself as a meeting between some sixty artists, all engaging directly with Manzoni’s work. The biennial comprises six chapters, each curated by a member of the international curating team behind the biennial. Focusing on Piero Manzoni and Socle du Monde, the resulting narrative ties the individual exhibition concepts together, giving rise to a complex interplay between past and present.

The Socle du Monde Biennial was founded in 2002 and is Denmark’s longest-running biennial for contemporary art.

The curators

The Socle du Monde Biennale will be edging the quality a notch upwards in 2017, presenting a number of internationally renowned curators headed by Mattijs Visser, founding director ZERO foundation, with curators Olivier Varenne, Jean-Hubert Martin, Daniel Birnbaum and Maria Finders. Assisting the team are Holger Reenberg, director at HEART and founding Director of The Socle du Monde Biennale , the director at Carl-Henning Pedersen & Else Alfelts Museum, Lotte Korshøj and Chief curator at HEART Michael Bank Christoffersen. Each of the 5 curators will create their individual chapter, based on a work by Manzoni, while the ‘outdoor’ chapters with permanent installations will be curated by the complete team.

The biennial will take place from 21 April – 27 August 2017.


Socle du Monde Biennale 2017 is supported by: