the 47th Venice Biennale

Various Venues

As historians like to remind us, Venice is sinking. And if the Biennale is any indication, it’s disappearing faster than anyone suspected. Sure, the city and its treasures probably have a few good centuries left in them, but its greatest accomplishment in this one is increasingly held hostage to local politics and curatorial grandstanding. If in past years crowds have been shrinking, state money has been drying up, and the press has been screaming for blood, this June even art-world revelers fled, lured by the promise of greener pastures in Kassel.

The night before my first peek at the 47th Venice Biennale, some ten days after the opening, I ran into its curator, Germano Celant, at Harry’s Bar. When I mentioned that I was looking forward to seeing his work, he shrugged and remarked that, after all, it wasn’t really his work I’d be seeing. On a literal level his response was innocuous

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