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Globalism and the Venice Biennale

FOR FOUR DAYS in December 2005, art-world luminaries, city officials, and academics gathered in Venice at the stunning Palazzo Cavalli Franchetti, just off the Ponte dell’Accademia on the Grand Canal. Mission: to debate the future of large-scale international exhibitions in general (and, by implication, the Venice Biennale in particular). Art historian and critic Robert Storr, next curator of what Italians call, simply, la Biennale, had been charged by the institution’s leadership to organize the event, which he attempted to democratize by opening each session to discussion with the audience. But with a tight registration policy, eagle-eyed badge checkers, row after row of riservato seats, streaming media broadcast behind the panelists (input, creepily, from Palazzo surveillance cameras), and microphones handed preferentially to those in the riservato section, the event was never going to

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