Biennials: Four Fundamentals, Many Variations

by Terry Smith

When we look back at the century plus history of recurrent survey exhibitions of contemporary art––those we call biennials, triennials, and (at Kassel, itself expanding) documentas––we can see that they slowly established a set of distinctive protocols, that were formalized during the 1980s, then rapidly replicated throughout the world, while at the same time steadily increasing in size and scope.
Read More

11th Shanghai Biennale

Biennialgram from the 11th Shanghai Biennale

by Rose Lejeune

Curated by artist’s collective Raqs Media Collective, the 11th Shanghai Biennale takes its starting point as the question “Why Not Ask Again? Arguments, Counter-arguments, and Stories”. A multifarious and speculative question that seeks to utilise the Biennale as a site that can offer the ‘arguments and counter arguments of our time.’ Offering an often pessimistic view of the present spliced with glimmers of hope for the future, especially through technology, the Biennale explores how questions ‘happen’ in our world and posits that art-works carry within them possible futures in as much as they are always drafts for the, as yet, untold future in the present.
Read More

11th Gwangju Biennale: A field report, or ‘what do biennials do?’

by Shwetal A. Patel

Amidst atmospheres of uncertainty and infrastructural precarity, the number and scale of biennales has seen an exponential increase over the last 30 years. The Gwangju Biennale – Asia’s largest and longest running – is no exception to this phenomenon. It has in recent years mounted ever more expansive and ambitious exhibitions and public programmes, curated by many of the world’s leading artistic protagonists. This year’s instantiation, under the direction of Maria Lind, revels in and reflects upon these dual trends of expansion and uncertainty.
Read More

What are we building down there? – Interview with Niels Van Tomme, curator of the Bucharest Biennale 7

Laura Herman interviews Niels Van Tomme, curator of the Bucharest Biennale 7

In a valiant effort to reimagine what a biennale can be, the seventh edition of Bucharest’s Biennale for Contemporary Art What are we building down there? comes with a concept that is both simple and smart. Rather than housing art in various galleries and venues, Belgian curator and critic Niels Van Tomme reshapes our expectations by integrating advertising billboards in the capital city’s infrastructure…
Read More

Bart De Baere talks about the 6th Moscow Biennale

Sam Steverlynck talks to Bart De Baere about the 6th Moscow Biennale

The 6th Moscow Biennale was not your average biennale concocted with the classic ingredients copied worldwide without questioning. Not only did it run for just ten days, it also felt more like a meeting place than a static biennale presenting existing – or some commissioned – works. With talk shows, debates and lectures by people like Yanis Varoufakis, sociologist Pascal Gielen and futurologist Maya van Leemput, it was a social-artistic laboratory that created quite a buzz. We met up with the curator, M HKA director Bart De Baere – who invited Nicolaus Schafhausen and Defne Ayas as co-curators – to find out more about the biennale’s genesis and the many challenges leading up to it.
Read More