Biennale of Sydney 2008

Various Venues

The entwinement of art and revolution would appear to be an impossibly quaint notion these days, especially when viewed from the comfort zones of the global art industry. The thought that art can spark a revolution of some kind––whether aesthetic or cultural, let alone social or political––betrays a touching nostalgia for Europe’s historical avant-gardes and the heyday of manifestos, and is ultimately as futile as believing that blockbuster exhibitions like biennials can disrupt the contemporary conditions of spectacle from within. Nonetheless, while these two conceptions of art’s potentiality resemble exercises doomed to failure, they also provide the ambitious philosophical core of the 2008 Biennale of Sydney, titled “Revolutions––Forms that Turn.”

According to artistic director Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev in her extensive catalogue essay, this biennial is a “decoy,” a means to revolt

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