PRINT September 1999

David Elliott

THIS YEAR’S VENICE BIENNALE featured no blockbuster historical show, no “futurism”, “Duchamp” or “Bacon.” It had none of its typical theme shows, like 1995’s “Identity and Alterity.” I was surprised at how little I missed them. For even when there is a central theme, the Biennale always seems to lack a center, and at this millennial moment, the absence of center seems more a strength than a weakness. No single theme can reflect the different cultures and perspectives that demand to be considered. No one power—market or aesthetic—loads the dice.

In a bit of masterly wordplay, Biennale director Harald Szeemann made ubiquitousness and openness his themes. “dApertutto,” loosely translated as “Aperto for all,” is also, in one traditional Venetian comedy, the name of a doctor who brings about a happy ending. This is exactly what Szeemann has done—freeing up the Italian pavilion to become part of

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