PRINT May 2003

World Report

the Venice Biennale

THOSE WHO RECALL THE WAR between Vittorio Sgarbi, former undersecretary of the Italian culture ministry, and Francesco Bonami, director of visual arts for the 50th Venice Biennale [see Artforum, May 2002], may wonder what became of the clangor over Bonami’s appointment: It ended with a whimper when Sgarbi was summarily booted from office last summer. Even at its most heated, this was nothing more than a local skirmish compared with the real war and terrorism under the pall of which this Biennale, opening next month, has been planned and largely realized.

It is hard to believe that only two years have passed between Harald Szeemann’s immensely hopeful “Plateau of Humankind,” the central exhibition of the last Biennale, and Bonami’s “Dreams and Conflicts: The Dictatorship of the Viewer.” The world, splintered by September 11 and the calamity in Iraq, is changed, and the Biennale—at 108 years,

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