The Big Biennale


As I made my way past souvenir shops crammed with gold- and crystal-encrusted trinkets toward Karen Kilimnik’s exhibition at the Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa, I began to worry that Kilimnik needed a show in a Venetian palazzetto about as much as Thomas Cole needs a retrospective in a forest. After all, her off-kilter studies in fandom, whether directed at contemporary urban waifs or traditional bucolic splendors, have always thrived on their palpable alienation from the glamorous and tawdry worlds they conjure—an ambience not lived but learned from glossy magazines, a period memoir, a paused videocassette. What would happen, I wondered, once Kilimnik was finally allowed into the fairy-tale castle against whose windows her nose had so long been pressed?

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