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Firelei Báez, for Marie-Louise Coidavid, exiled, keeper of order, Anacaona, 2018, oil on canvas. Installation view, Akademie der Künste. Photo: Timo Ohler.

The 10th Berlin Biennale

Various Venues

Firelei Báez, for Marie-Louise Coidavid, exiled, keeper of order, Anacaona, 2018, oil on canvas. Installation view, Akademie der Künste. Photo: Timo Ohler.

THE TITLE of the Tenth Berlin Biennale, “We don’t need another hero,” came from a 1985 Tina Turner hit, but it also brings to mind a passage from Helen DeWitt’s 2000 novel, The Last Samurai: “What we needed was not a hero to worship but money. If we had money we could go anywhere. Give us the money and we would be the heroes.”

The previous edition of the biennial, curated by the New York–based collective DIS, received criticism for its slick, high-gloss provocations. Many saw little more than smug nihilism, a cynical attitude smacking of privilege. So, for the latest edition, the biennial wisely took a quieter approach, handing over design of the show to a group of five curators of color, led by Gabi Ngcobo, who brought together forty-six artists and collectives for a graceful, subdued exhibition.

The biennial was spread across three major institutions. The spaces felt ample and

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