The end of the biennial?

J.J. Charlesworth argues that it’s time for the ‘large international exhibition’ to change

By J.J. Charlesworth

Mediterranean system of flows, Palermo Atlas. Image: © OMA Veduta di Palermo, Francesco Lojacono, 1875, Palermo Atlas. Image: courtesy OMA Strategy of intervention, Palermo Atlas. Image: copyright OMA

Is there a future for the contemporary art biennial? The format of the ‘large international exhibition’ – the big, globally ubiquitous curated exhibition – may be starting to show signs of fatigue. Last week Manifesta, the itinerant European biennial whose 12th edition in 2018 will be staged in Sicily’s capital city of Palermo, unveiled its ‘Palermo Atlas’ – an ‘urban study’ of the city, commissioned by the biennial from architect Rem Koolhaas’s celebrated OMA agency, as a sort of roadmap…

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