Magazine article Artforum International

Biennial Angst

Magazine article Artforum International

Biennial Angst

Article excerpt

Does the world really need another every-other-year contemporary art exhibition? The Palm Pilots of peripatetic curators, critics, collectors, and artists are already overloaded with dates of departure to Venice, Havana, and Kwangju. Now, add Valencia--the Spanish city best known for its oranges and its annual pyromaniacal tradition of burning giant papier-mache sculptures in the streets. The first Bienal de Valencia will open June 13 and remain on view through October 20.

Luigi Settembrini, director of the new biennial, plans to create a citywide "spectacle" loosely inspired by the Passions and showcasing not only contemporary art but film, fashion, and design to emphasize today's crossdisciplinary culture. Refreshingly, Settembrin looked beyond the usual suspects and enlisted a cadre of curators from different fields, including film director Peter Greenaway and theater designer Robert Wilson. Artists on the roster are equally diverse, including the Japanese media-arts collective Dumb Type, British sound artist Scanner, and Sarajevoborn filmmaker Emir Kusturica.

But this biennial isn't just about raising awareness of contemporary art and kindred disciplines, it's also about raising tourist revenues for the host city. Slickly packaged and promoted with a glossy pre-catalogue (released six months before the show's opening) that includes an entire section on the strategy behind the event's corporate identity and logo, this biennial-as-business is an unabashed sign of the times. …

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