The biennalization of art worlds

The culture of cultural events

Authored by: Monica Sassatelli

Routledge International Handbook of the Sociology of Art and Culture

Print publication date:  September  2015
Online publication date:  September  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415855112
eBook ISBN: 9780203740248
Adobe ISBN: 9781135008895


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A culture of the event – biennals, triennials and more generally art festivals – has become in the last few decades quantitatively and qualitatively prominent. Whilst ‘festivals’ have ancient roots, it is only in recent years that they have become an almost ubiquitous fixture of cultural calendars in cities around the world. This current proliferation is even more striking for art biennals: arguably emanating from the single model of the first Biennale in Venice, and up to the 1980s only reproduced in a handful of examples, biennals and derivates as large-scale, international and recurrent exhibitions (Altshuler 2013: 18) have become key institutional nodes linking production, consumption and distribution of contemporary art, and are counted now in their hundreds.

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