TABLE OF CONTENTS

Stealing the Show

THE VENICE BIENNALE BOILS DOWN TO A COMPETITION for visibility. While not exactly a shocking revelation, this rather sweeping conclusion came forcefully to mind as I lay trapped inside a Disney-like metallic pod in the Arsenale, watching a light-and-music show—purportedly generated by my own sensor-affixed cranium. As Mariko Mori’s overproduced, obviously expensive, and calculatedly entertaining Wave UFO, 1999–2002, implies, the competition this year in Venice is pretty steep. Artists don’t just “compete” with each other, or for one of the juried prizes; they have to contend with the complex topography of Venice itself: the scale and sprawl of the venues, the historical weight of the city, the broad demographic ranging from art insider to tourist, the overlay of geopolitical stakes in the national pavilions, and the Cannes-style entanglement of marketing events and social glitz.

Such

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