The OSTRALE Biennale in Dresden is the third largest international exhibition of contemporary art in Germany, which took place every year from 2007 on during the summer months and was changed into a biennale in 2017. First the exhibitions have taken place at various venues of the former slaugtherhouse complex of Ostragehege in Dresden, as well as other similar post-industrial venues all over Europe.
The OSTRALE Biennale O21 is planned to take place from July 1st until October 3 2021, if the epidemiological situation allows it. The exhibition will be presented for the first time in the very heart of Dresden, at the Robotron Canteen. The building is a witness of the Eastern Modernism („Ostmodern”) and an often overlooked part of the architectural and social history of the city of Dresden.
The Robotron Kantine is the former company restaurant and one of the last standing buildings of the already demolished Robotron computer factory complex, once a crown jewel of technological innovation, but also of architectural optimism, in Dresden and in the whole DDR in the 1960s and 1970s. However, after the closure of the factory, its fate has been somewhat troublesome. For a while, it has served as a venue for various cultural activities and also as a rehearsal room for the nearby Semperoper, but in the last few years it has been standing empty in an ever deteriorating state. The discussion about its possible reactivation gained more momentum during the preparation phase of Dresden’s application for the title of European Capital of Culture for 2025, in frame of which several new concepts were developed for the building. Now, as the city of Dresden is no longer in competition for the title, the future of the Robotron Kantine remains uncertain. Opening it up through art can pave the way to revive it as a cultural venue. During summer of 2021, the Kantine will serve as the main venue of the OSTRALE Biennale O21, presenting artworks from around 130 artists from all over the world, selected by an international team of curators from Croatia, Lithuania and Hungary, with the leaders of OSTRALE accompanying the jury.
This year’s theme of the OSTRALE biennale has been defined through a complex polylogue between the curatorial team, artistic proposals and contextual emergencies. Through the international open call which tackled the topics of growth/ (de)growth, streams, currents, various ecological questions, more than a 1000 applications arrived from all around the world.
The OSTRALE O21 is part of the FLOWING CONNECTIONS project, funded with support from the European Commission through co-funding by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union.