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Brian Sholis on the 5th Berlin Biennale

IF THERE IS ANY CONSENSUS regarding the contemporary megaexhibition, it’s that it is in need of reinvention. And, increasingly, a focus on performance and pedagogy seems to offer one way forward. The prime example here is Mai Abu ElDahab, Anton Vidokle, and Florian Waldvogel’s attempt, albeit ultimately unsuccessful, to reimagine Manifesta 6 as an experimental art academy, but one could also mention Documenta 12, with its emphasis on workshops and colloquy, or New York’s performance-only biennial, Performa, now heading toward its third edition. Displacing the emphasis from object to experience, performative and pedagogical tactics provide a way around what is now disparaged as the static nature of the Grand Show.

For the Fifth Berlin Biennial, opening on April 5, curators Adam Szymczyk, director of the Kunsthalle Basel, and Elena Filipovic, an independent art critic and curator, have extended

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