News & events > Challenges facing biennales in 2022
17 Jan 2022

Challenges facing biennales in 2022

On CoBo Social contemporary art platform, writer Reena Devi considers the challenges facing art biennales in the year ahead and beyond. With a jam-packed art calendar, the ongoing pandemic, leadership issues, accelerating technology and a lack of in-depth engagement, she asks: does this century-old platform have a future?

Due to the onset of COVID-19 and a series of inevitable postponements, 2022 is going to be a rare landmark year for the art world, with a slew of biennales and major international art shows set to take place.

During the first pandemic year, La Biennale di Venezia pushed its 59th edition back one year to 2022, coinciding with documenta, held every five years in Kassel, Germany, and slated to open in 2022, as well as the Berlin Biennale. Meanwhile, Biennale d’art contemporain de Lyon in France, which was originally scheduled for 2021, will take place in the fall of 2022. Beyond Europe, the Kochi-Muziris Biennale in Kerala was postponed twice to December 2022, set to run till April 2023. The Bangkok Art Biennale, which went ahead in 2020 with a slightly scaled back version, will return in 2022. The Asian Art Biennial launched in October last year and will run till March 2022. (These are only some of the major international art shows happening this year—for a comprehensive list, click here.)

Yet the upcoming crush of events and its ensuing biennale fatigue are not the biggest challenges facing major international art shows. A larger, more exigent question looms: can biennales still resonate with audiences in the art world and beyond, people who have been transformed by ongoing collective catastrophe and accelerated technological disruptions?

The fact is some of the cracks in the century old platform were already showing before the current global health crisis. Back in 2018, the 12th edition of one of Asia’s longest-running and most respected biennials, Gwangju Biennale came across as “overloaded”. The exhibition fell into the same trap as other ambitious mega-exhibitions of its time, featuring way too many artists in a bid to appear inclusive, diverse, and not leave anything out. In doing so, most of these sprawling shows wind up missing the mark when it comes to deeper engagement, which tends to be a strong indicator of a truly inclusive art show.

Fast forward to present day .... 

Read the full article by Reena Devi on CoBo Social ....

Image: Lisbon Architecture Triennale 2022 TERRA takes place 29 September - 5 December 2022