Biennial Burnout

As the world lurches from one desperate crisis to the next, is it time to consider the real values of art?

By Joshua Decter

Charlotte Johannesson, Attack Attitude, 1977 (installation view, São Paulo Biennial, 2016), tapestry, 200 × 100 cm. Courtesy Malmö Konstmuseum

We live in times of political degradation; every day, we mourn a society that is being vitiated by sullied politicians and corrupted systems. And yet we are society; these conditions are not outside of us, they are our own human frailties writ large. We want our biopower – ie, how we might use our human sovereignty and individual agency as a form of power vis-à-vis state power – to do good, we know that there are better and worse uses…

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