OSTRALE – The Dresden Biennale of Contemporary Art has been exhibiting the curators’ choices of the best contemporary art for 12 years.

During 2020, between two editions of the biennale, OSTRALE had planned to present the Watergate exhibition in Rijeka, a curatorial concept prepared by Syowia Kyambi, Antka Hofmann, Toni Sant and Andrea Hilger presenting 53 works of art that speak about the concept of water as a common thread throughout humanity. In the foreword to the exhibition, OSTRALE curator and artistic director Andrea Hilger emphasises that the selection of works is a reflection of water as a portal or gateway, serving simultaneously as a link between cities and cultures, as a means of migration and movement, as a dominant pillar of the global economy and trade, and as an inevitable and fundamental condition of the life and historical development of human settlements.

The contemporary works of art presented in this digital exhibition, which you can visit online, were to be exhibited in the abandoned INA warehouses in Mlaka. Industry in Rijeka has always been inextricably linked to the port infrastructure, with the two sectors stimulating each other and enabling mutual growth. At a time of global redistributions of industrial production and as a consequence of domestic political and economic tendencies, the refinery in Rijeka no longer occupies the central coastal area as an active industry. In anticipation of some new solutions for the Mlaka refinery, OSTRALE was to hold the exhibition in precisely this space because of its connection with the sea and the water, and the Watergate exhibition was to be an additional stimulus for reflection on the nature of water, labour and migration issues, even the future of the space in which it is located, as well as the wider coastal belt of Rijeka.

Austin Camilleri – Bandiera Bianca (2018)

The exhibition is presented in digital form as the epidemiological measures in force during the spring meant its production in Rijeka was not possible. OSTRALE, in collaboration with RIJEKA 2020 presents this digital exhibition as an insight into the works that were intended to be presented, but also as an indicator of the importance of maintaining collaborative relations despite the obstacles and challenges we face in these new circumstances.