Arrivederci Venice: The Third World Biennials

Venice Biennale

The Venice Biennale, founded in 1895, is the oldest and, along with Germany’s Documenta series, the most influential of Europe’s major recurring international exhibitions. Both those shows occur in formerly imperial nations and reflect a Eurocentric history, for they concentrate not just on Western art but on the art shown in the West’s prominent commercial galleries. Now, however, as the colonial era fades, the biennial tradition has spread beyond the Western world. With the post-Modern shift of emphasis from the previous centers to the previous margins, the idea that one’s own city, wherever it may be, can act as an international hub has become widely available.

Recently a number of recurring, usually biennial, international survey exhibitions have appeared in non-Western, often previously colonized capitals. The spectrum of difference exhibited at these shows suggests varying relationships

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