Art and the Spectacular. Biennials sans frontiers

Lecture by Chin-tao Wu
June 18th, 2009

Chin-tao Wu will deal in her lecture with some aspects of the “Biennalisation of the Artworld”: Over the last ten to fifteen years, art biennials have mushroomed. The popularity of the biennial as an institutional framework by means of which cities and city governments are empowered to join the global art world, has gone hand in hand with the phenomenon of globalisation and the rise of the diaspora artist. The present paper sets out to investigate the ways in which international biennials have become a powerful Western institutional filter and a format enabling artists from under-resourced parts of the world to gain access to the mainstream of the global art world. Using detailed statistical analysis of past Documentas as an example, the paper will examine what kind of new configurations of power relations these seemingly de-territorialising ventures imply, and if the opposition between centre and peripheries is now a thing of the past.