Beat Wyss provides bit-by-bit insights into his in-depth research project on the Venice Biennale. Launched in 2008 by the Swiss Institute of Art Research SIK SEA in “Globalization of the Periphery: The Venice Biennale Project,” the research project critiques center–periphery relations of the history of contemporary art, as well as the “evolutionist, colonial notion of art history.” In “The Paradoxes of the Biennale” by Julia Bethwaite and Anni Kangas, the authors scrutinize biennials through the prism of paradoxes, which are an essential feature, they claim. Bethwaite and Kangas suggest four aspects by which to analyze biennials: “the paradox of the many and the few; the paradox of money; the paradox of power; and the paradox of scale,” and they examine the Russian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale between the years 2011–2015 to unfold the entanglements between art and political and economic power.In “Cyprus in Venice: Art, Politics, and Modernity at the Margins of Europe author Louli Michaelidou unfolds the predicaments of “national representations” in biennial models, derived from the perspective of the Cyprus Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. The author examines the complex task of representing a Greek Cypriot identity with the desire of attaining global recognition in a major international art exhibition. Alessia Basilicata takes up the journey to Venice through the cultural journals of how the USA Pavilion came into being, and how the pavilion found its identity in light of critics’ judgment of no “national expression.” “Venice Biennale: A Showcase for the American Debut in the Global Art” illustrates that an initial private approach relying on artistic exchange was transformed over time into representational identities of a state performing its role in arts and culture internationally.
Marco Baravalle suggests that the “populist neoliberal mayor of Venice Luigi Brugnaro, responds to the pandemic following the well known recipe of the shock economy: once the emergency is over, the motto will be ‘as before, more than before’, meaning: more tourism, more hotels, more cruise ships, more cuts to public services, more events to make up for the the time lost.” Baravalle asserts: “While we all should be working in the direction of a general shift outside of the neoliberal model, it is yet urgent to start a collective reflection on how La Biennale and other institutions in the global art circuit should radically be transformed.” Vittoria Martini reacts, with “Venice, the Biennale and the Bees,” wholeheartedly to the (announcement of the) postponement of the next Venice Biennale (both architecture and art have been postponed to 2021 and 2022, respectively). Martini examines the historical changes of the presidency of Paolo Baratta, which ended in February 2020 after two decades, and suggests a renewal of the Venice Biennale as laid out in 1974 with an emphasis on critical debate and stronger participation by the public.