Oliver Marchart, in his text “The Globalization of Art and the ‘Biennials of Resistance’: a History of the Biennials from the Periphery,” suggests an alternative view of contemporary biennials in their format’s history and process. Examining the 3rd Havana Biennial that took place in 1989, Marchart observes a shift whereby “peripheral” practices enter the “center,” requiring a re-evaluation of prevailing center-periphery theories. This short conversation with Alfredo Jaar by Federica Martini “Art worlds into real worlds: A conversation with Alfredo Jaar” was published in 2011, and still gives a precise insight of an artist’s view into the bienniale circuit. Christian Morgner’s empirically researched approach in “Inclusion and Exclusion in the Art World: A Sociological Account of Biennial Artists and Audiences” examines assumptions and perceived prejudices on the international biennial circuit. Morgner’s paper unfolds along the theoretical line of public assemblies (articulated by Butler and Habermas), reflecting on the democratic potential of biennials, and at the same time highlighting the risks of a lack of engagement with general art audiences and site. Shwetal A. Patel examines the role of practice in biennial-making and argues against the growing homogeneity in the field. Patel explores the notion of biennial practices and asks how we may resist biennialization and standardization in the field.
Fatos Üstek, director of the Liverpool Biennial, was commissioned to select 50 Instagram posts which were tagged with the hashtag “#biennale.” In her contribution, Üstek ruminates on the impact of COVID-19 on our daily lives, and what changes it may bring to curatorial formats in the future. Whilst recognizing the means of social media applications, Üstek is compelled to take a closer look at her “immediate surroundings, the micro-locale.” In “The Curating of Self and Others—Biennials as Forms of Governmental Assemblages,”” Ronald Kolb proposes analyzing the exhibitionary biennial complex through the implications of Michel Foucault’s governmentality concept. The text claims, while the beginning of public museums in the 19th century could be seen as “civic engines” in line with a liberal agenda, biennials took up the neoliberal agenda early on.