Critical articles on biennales, triennales and regional shows (2007-2010)

Durian Publications
Frieze, 2009, Issue 127, pp. 134 - 134
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Biennales are no longer merely a question of the artworld, but a question of urbanism. Over the course of the last quarter century they have evolved from pan-national exhibitions of progressive art into indispensible infrastructure for cities that wish to assert their cosmopolitan status. Within such a framework, the individual autonomy of the artist and curator goes into relative decline, leaving critics wrong footed as they try to dispense aesthetic judgments to an indifferent popular audience who seek events that are spectacular rather than cultural. In attempting to understand the global machinery of the biennale circuit, I began a series of reviews of outwardly completely disparate shows, including the 2nd Athens Biennale (2009) and the 4th Auckland Triennial (2010) for Frieze, as well as 'The Hours' (2007), a touring show of the Daros-Latinamerica Collection, ostensibly the world's most significant collection of contemporary Latin American art (though domiciled in Switzerland). Only in the course of researching and writing these articles did the fundamental similarity of the exhibitions become explicit. With their interchangeable roll call of emigre artists residing in New York, London and Berlin, and the semantic weakness of their curating, the biennale is the ideal vehicle for studying art as it manifests itself in the polity.
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