From an idea to the international art biennial

INTERFERENCE is the first international light art biennial on the African continent. It is a contemporary art project in the Tunisian capital and takes place for 4 days around the first weekend of September.

It was founded in 2015 by German curator Bettina Pelz and Tunisian curator Aymen Gharbi. They formed a core team of mainly young Tunisian creatives. Jointly, they established the long-term mission embedded in a curatorial concept, establishing main principles of a local community-based approach and a unique sociocultural ethical codex. The first edition was launched in September 2016, the second one took place in 2018. In September 2020, the third edition will be realized.

On display are mainly site-specific and context-conditioned artistic and curatorial approaches. 24 artists or artistic collectives contributed in 2016, 56 positions were realized in 2018. From the beginning, INTERFERENCE profited from all kinds of co-operation _ locally, nation-wide, across the African continent, throughout Europe and beyond.

The decentral exhibition project takes place in the Medina of Tunis, a UNESCO World Heritage environment since 1979. The Medina of Tunis has been recognized as a remarkable historic urban ensemble referring not only to buildings but to the socio-cultural network that is engendered by the outline of quarters and network of streets. While very active in the daytime, the Medina quiets during the night. Workshops and shops, coffee bars and restaurants close, alleys are empty and streetlights are rare. After all daily activities in the medina fade out, the exhibition hours start. The darkness provides a perfect canvas for artists that work with physical light as material or medium.

The international light art project is a new display for art in public space created and influenced by the Arab Spring. Public space and its significance for the development of the democratic culture are key aspects of the curatorial concept. The care for artistic qualities and for freedom of artistic expression not only refers to the freedom to generate artistic expressions free of governmental censorship, political interference or administrative pressures but to the right of citizens to actively take part in cultural life as the habitat of democracy.

INTERFERENCE is dedicated to the art experience as the base of understanding of artistic research and practice in a multitude of cultural contexts. It aims to engage with its visitors through artistic practices in interaction with sites, networks and contexts. It addresses issues of local and global importance. During the four days of the display, 15.000 visitors attend in 2016, 18.000 in 2018.

With a focus on local mediation and audience care, INTERFERENCE Art Project includes a neighbors’ and volunteers’ program with gatherings and roundtables, workshops and training. It is a transdisciplinary network where the local and the global as well as arts and crafts, technologies and sciences, ecologies and cultures mash. Formation in art production and curatorship, project management and art mediation led to collective of around 300, mainly young Tunisians, that care for production, display and communication of contemporary art in their neighborhoods and networks.

By today, the INTERFERENCE Community provides year-round activities, programs and projects in addition to hosting the biennial INTERFERENCE Light Art Project, most of them are organized under the roof of the association COLLECTIF CREATIF.