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Cultural Politics of International Biennale

  • The Journal of Aesthetics and Science of Art
  • Abbr : JASA
  • 2012, 36(), pp.71-99
  • Publisher : 한국미학예술학회
  • Research Area : Arts and Kinesiology > Other Arts and Kinesiology
  • Published : October 31, 2012

Joon Lee 1

1삼성미술관 리움

Accredited

ABSTRACT

With the acceleration of globalization phenomenon throughout the world, explosively booming international biennales have taken over some of traditional functions of art museums and alternative spaces. They have also dominated cultural discourses, after the perceived worldwide crisis of art criticism. Further, they have exerted a considerable influence on art market. This thesis, first, will examine the importance of international biennales with a focus of their institutional aspects. It will then analyse from the point of view of cultural politics how the attributes of these exhibition sites have been altered by ideologies, cultural influences or economic capital of the dominant social class. In this thesis, I will analyse how biennales could become the most influential exhibition space and a site producing cultural discourses of the 21st century, taking over the roles of art museums, alternative spaces and art criticism. Biennales which emphasize changes and innovations have become a site in which vanguard curators and artists compete with each other for the recognition of their meaningful differences. They have also become a strategic site for searching for the future of contemporary art. Through a critique of the worldwide boom of biennales which have become the host city’s marketing tool for cultural products under neo-liberalism, I will examine a phenomenon, in which certain influential international curators and exhibition organisers have become a powerful elite group through these biennales. I will also point out the still Western-centered structure of these biennales and the cultural hegemony of this elite group, which are evident in their influences on non-Western regions and art market. Further, the thesis will criticize the homogenization of non-Western biennales caused by the hegemonic monopoly of globe-trotting Western curators in biennales whose worldwide expansion is riding on the globalisation wave. It will also point out how avant-garde art practices seeking innovation and change have become institutionalized and a commodity by the culturally dominant sections of society, such as exhibition organisers, collectors and sponsors, as well as art market and cultural capital. It is, therefore, necessary to critically examine contemporary art and exhibition systems, which are increasingly dictated by the rationale of neo-liberalism, along with the globalization of finance, trade and services.

Citation status

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