Bik Van der Pol
We may all be blind to what is in front of us; we might also be willfully blind. Turning a Blind Eye, a programme of public workshops, events, lectures and walks by Bik Van der Pol, explores different notions of the ‘unseen’ (the non-visible and the non-existent), and the ways in which we look at things or choose what we look at. The programme seeks to investigate the idea of ‘publicness’, as well as to generate a public for its own activities. A live, large scoreboard animated live by activators follows the developments of the projects and invites the publics to become participants.
Turning a Blind Eye understands artistic practice as a form of learning, and a space of experience and encounter. Art can be a strategy for emancipation and a potential response to public issues. The recent occupations of public squares worldwide, or the increasing commercial exploitation of private information, demonstrate the urgency of public space as a site of conflict over rights, information, relations and objects.
Debates over forms of common property such as knowledge and culture show that public space is to be understood in the broadest terms possible – as that which holds the fabric of experience-ascommunity together. Yet it is threatened by exclusions, privileged access and disinformation to the point that it becomes invisible. Public property needs to be re-articulated time and again, and is just as precarious as the natural environment, threatened by a predatory economy.
Turning a Blind Eye investigates recent events in Brazil and worldwide, departing from tensions around the exploitation of urban and natural space. The programme has been created with the participation of the general public, students of the School of Missing Studies and universities and organisations in São Paulo. The 31st Bienal acts as the site for the project’s creation and research, implementing the educational model of ‘the school’ as a form of mental theatre that may create new horizons of action, production and reflection. – BVD