Opening of the 55th Venice Biennale's German Pavilion, Photo: Thorsten Arndt
Opening of the 55th Venice Biennale's German Pavilion, Photo: Thorsten Arndt
Opening of the 55th Venice Biennale's German Pavilion, Photo: Thorsten Arndt
Opening of the 55th Venice Biennale's German Pavilion, Photo: Thorsten Arndt
Opening of the 55th Venice Biennale's German Pavilion, Photo: Thorsten Arndt
Opening of the 55th Venice Biennale's German Pavilion, Photo: Thorsten Arndt
Opening of the 55th Venice Biennale's German Pavilion, Photo: Thorsten Arndt
Opening of the 55th Venice Biennale's German Pavilion, Photo: Thorsten Arndt
Opening of the 55th Venice Biennale's German Pavilion, Photo: Thorsten Arndt
Opening of the 55th Venice Biennale's German Pavilion, Photo: Thorsten Arndt
Opening of the 55th Venice Biennale's German Pavilion, Photo: Thorsten Arndt
Opening of the 55th Venice Biennale's German Pavilion, Photo: Thorsten Arndt
Opening of the 55th Venice Biennale's German Pavilion, Photo: Thorsten Arndt
Opening of the 55th Venice Biennale's German Pavilion, Photo: Thorsten Arndt
Opening of the 55th Venice Biennale's German Pavilion, Photo: Thorsten Arndt
Opening of the 55th Venice Biennale's German Pavilion, Photo: Thorsten Arndt

The biennial's function in present and future

During the last few decades, biennials have become a popular exhibition format. But what artistic and social duties come along with the concept of a bi-annual art show? And in which direction should biennials evolve?
New perspectives by Elke aus dem Moore, head of the Visual Arts Department at ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen).

What is the specific function and potential of the biennial?

Opening of the 55th Venice Biennale's German Pavilion, Photo: Thorsten Arndt
Opening of the 55th Venice Biennale's German Pavilion
Photo: Thorsten Arndt

Biennials have become more than an exhibition of contemporary art. They have established themselves as a strong voice of an independent art scene that is acting and developing besides the established international art market. With its critical reflection on art-production and the role of art and artists in social and political transformation the format of the biennial can write a counter-narration of contemporary art history.

Is the biennial still an alternative site for experimentation and resistance? Can you see a future for this?

Biennials have always been a place for experiments, a laboratory, a place of artistic research. A platform of alternative thinking. Especially in the field of public art and interventions in the public sphere which becomes more and more privatised, biennials can and should function as a counter-narrative, as a political structure initiated and ruled by artistic languages. I can imagine that smaller communities will offer an insight in their traditions and questions.

First published in

Shifting Gravity. World Biennial Forum no. 1. / Ute Meta Bauer, Hanru Hou. Gwangju Biennale Foundation. Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (ed). – Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz, 2013. – 225 pp.