Essay on What A Biennial Is An Art Fair, A Gallery, And An Auction House

Essay on What A Biennial Is An Art Fair, A Gallery, And An Auction House

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Imagine a city as a frame, that’s what a biennial is. A biennial can be seen in public places, yes for all to see. How wonderful, right? A biennial differs from an art fair, a gallery, and an auction house in the sense that it is art focused, while the latter three are concentrated on sales. Although biennials are a good illustration of an attention based economy, they aren’t fully global.

The art world often prides itself with its “globalism”, but how global is it? Chin-Tao Wu who is an assistant research fellow at the Academia Sinica in Taiwan raises these questions in her journal” Biennials without borders?”. Wu raises two important questions. Where were the artists born? And, where are they currently living? The relation between the two tell us where the flow is. Wu constructed her data on the Kassel documenta exhibitions that were held between 1968 and 2007 in Germany. The questions were based on her observations of the respected docuemntas. Wu found that the vast majority of artists were born in North America, and Europe- over 90%. Reaching a staggering 96% in 1972. Wu also found that up to and including 1982 documenta, nearly one hundred artists lived in North America and Europe. However, it began to fall from 1987; for the 1992 and 1997 documentas it was around ninety per cent, dropping to an astonishing seventy-six per cent in 2002 and sixty-one per cent in 2007. Okwui Enwezor’s docuemnta 11 in 2002 which is considered the most diverse made the “real change” when the porportion of Western artists fell to sixty percent, and reminded fixed at that level in 2007 according to Wu. She goes on further by saying that before 1992, nearly all artists originally from Latin America, Asia, or Africa had already moved to either Nort...


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...and they will be able to put on a biennial. How to become a curator of a biennial? You create many biennials before. A biennial is about making the people who create it visible. Konate also mentions the benefit of a biennial, and how it is different than a museum or a gallery, he says that biennials aren’t like museums that lean more towards anthropology with the exhibition of tribal art, or galleries that are all about sales. The Dak’Art biennial is truly refreshing for the presentation of pan Africanism, unlike the Cairo biennial where most of the artists featured are from North America or Europe, another biennial that comes to mind is the Gwanji biennial, although it’s not African, but it is called a resistance biennial for its focus on the sense of community rather than consumption. Hopefully, biennials will convert to being global in every sense of the word.

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