The Venice Biennale: Islands of meaning in a morass of incoherence

Schwabsky_IslandMeaning_ba_imgBarry Schwabsky at The Nation:

At the beginning of his essay in the catalog for this year’s Venice Biennale, Okwui Enwezor asks: “What do we see? A void of nothingness? A horizon of possibilities? What to do?” Enwezor is describing, perhaps more accurately than he realizes, the perspective of the visitor to the Venice Biennale—not just this year’s (of which Enwezor is the artistic director and curator), but any biennale curated by anyone in recent memory.

“Leap into the void or into the fray?” These are the possibilities that Enwezor envisions, but there are others, one being to turn back and walk away. Which is what I did, inadvertently, two years ago: Having decided not to attend the preview of the 55th Biennale—thinking that I’d be able to see much more if I visited the show later, when the crowds would be less overwhelming—I never quite got myself sufficiently organized to plan the trip. And that was a shame, because Massimiliano Gioni’s 2013 Venice Biennale, “The Encyclopedic Palace,” might have been among the more interesting ones. Maybe I should just admit to myself that the attendant social whirl, though it distracts from the Biennale’s art, is partly what attracts me, or at least motivates me to go.

more here.