Has the Venice Biennale outlived its usefulness? By most indications, the question is specious. Witness the preview leading to the public unveiling of the fifty-fourth edition of the gigantic international exhibition of contemporary art in early June. Though long ago the Biennale got so big as to overspill its already commodious accommodations in the city’s Giardini and the warrens of the one-time shipbuilding hangars of the Arsenale, it continues to metastasize each year, with a greater number of national pavilions in this edition than ever before (ninety-one countries had signed on before the last-minute defections of Lebanon and Bahrain). Several countries––Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Haiti, Andorra––participated for the first time, while others, including India, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Congo, and Cuba, returned with national pavilions after lengthy absences.
Photo: Christoph Schliengesief’s installation in the German Pavilion