Biennial to Biennialogy

Thoughts from recent MA Fine Art teaching at the University of Wolverhampton…a seminar session into the international art biennial referencing the texts ‘From medium to message’ by Boris Groys and ‘Biennialogy’ by Elena Filipovic, Marieke van Hal and Solveig Øvstebø. The words below seem to play out as if poetry or a piece of spoken word…

  • Biennial as spectacle;
  • Biennial as a Western typology feeding the tourism industries;
  • Biennial a dangerous tool in the development of “serious art”;
  • Biennial as “festivalism”;
  • Biennial as a critical site for experimentation, exhibition-making, alternative modes and spaces of display;
  • Biennial as a site for “redemption and utopian possibility”;
  • Biennial as a paradigm shift;
  • Biennial as a platform;
  • Biennial as a discursive environment;
  • Biennial as a staging of (cursory) arguments;
  • Biennial as a landscape of different exhibition projects;
  • Biennial as the transformation of the art world at large;
  • Biennial as a country’s own version of contemporary art and “local desires”;
  • Biennial as not a specific periodicity or etymology;
  • Biennial as a site to always be re-examined;
  • Biennial as critical cultural currency;
  • Biennial as the perception of a problem;
  • Biennial as a publication;
  • Biennial as a cultural object;
  • Biennial as the “mega-exhibition”;
  • Biennial as an anxiety;
  • Biennial as the direction in which culture is moving;
  • Biennial as a way to understand something crucial about culture;
  • Biennial as a medium through which contemporary art is known (From medium to message – Boris Groys) – central sites for understanding art today;
  • Biennial as city;
  • Biennial as production and distribution;
  • Biennial as a generation;
  • Biennial as an armature;
  • Biennial as phenomenon;
  • Biennial as never neutral space;
  • Biennial as representative of global shifts;
  • Biennial as an object of study over time;
  • Biennial as today;
  • Biennial as nation building and patrimony;
  • Biennial as no one singular history;
  • Biennial as domination;
  • Biennial as international dialogue;
  • Biennial as urban renewal;
  • Biennial as multiple genealogies;
  • Biennial as an “unstable institution” (Carlos Basualdo);
  • Biennial as an impossible task;
  • Biennial as flux;
  • Biennial as a curious paradox;
  • Biennial as “no biennial”;
  • Biennial as the structure of the art fair and Olympic parks;
  • Biennial as museum;
  • Biennial as a utopian promise;
  • Biennial as classification, canonisation and preservation;
  • Biennial as convention;
  • Biennial as “architectures (of change)” (Rachel Marsden);
  • Biennial as supply and demand;
  • Biennial as a new (art) world order;
  • Biennial as the direct product and development of art?;
  • Biennial as a critical public sphere (Raqs Media Collective);
  • Biennial as a curatorial responsibility (Raqs Media Collective);
  • Biennial as the “curatorial turn” (Paul O’Neill);
  • Biennials as “a part of the present, but also an investment in the future. A statement about art” (Simon Sheikh);
  • Biennial as a mechanism for creating an alternative history;
  • Biennial as a translation;
  • Biennial as the confrontation of multiple cultural positions;
  • Biennial as transitional;
  • Biennial as resistance;
  • Biennial as a universal template for form and medium;
  • Biennial as inclusive, transnational and multicultural (Okwui Enwezor);
  • Biennial as a consolidation of bourgeois culture that is both archaically nationalistic and explicitly occidentalist (George Baker);
  • Biennial as indefinable;
  • Biennial as contemporaneity;
  • Biennial as a paradox;
  • Biennial as a prism to look at the (art) world;
  • Biennial as a (musical) instrument;
  • Biennial as a catalyst;
  • Biennial as an arrangement of curated exhibitions and art installations;
  • Biennial as “a rhythm” in sync with the rhythm of contemporary international tourism;
  • Biennial as a reflection of the time span between nostalgia and forgetting;
  • Biennial as interconnected nostalgias – nostalgia of universal art and nostalgia of universal political order;
  • Biennial as political double-play;
  • Biennial as nationalistic labelling…cultural labelling;
  • Biennial as artistic confirmation;
  • Biennial as bias;
  • Biennial through subconscious cultural preference;
  • Biennial as an alliance with certain artists dictating a specific (closed) cultural ecology that can be detrimental to it’s future development…focus more on “big name” artists, or “local” artists;
  • Biennial as a reduction to a formulaic product…the art is “consumed”…almost a brand;
  • Biennial as “cultural symbolic capital”.

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