Art and Culture 

56th Edition of the Biennale d’Arte di Venezia

All the Futures of the World

Richard Ingersoll 

Jaume Plensa, Mist, San Giorgio Maggiore

That the south keeps moving north, there is no doubt. And this year’s Venice Biennale provides a significant example, with the director, Okwui Enwezor, originating from Nigeria and about half the artists from countries once categorized as Third World. Just as the Biennale of 2013 directed by Massimiliano Gioni put to test whether one could distinguish between the ‘outsider art’ of mental patients and the art of ‘legitimate’ artists, the current Biennale makes it impossible to discriminate between Western and non-Western art. While Enwezor has set up several themes, his underlying message promotes the disappearance of the Third World, at least within the privileged realm of the art world. The Golden Lion career award went to the well-known assemblage artist from Ghana, El Anatsui, whose tapestries made of recycled bottle caps and other throw-away materials, unfortunately, were not put on display. The only works in Enwezor’s show that might be mistaken for the sort of fetish-based art that one often associates with non-Western artists came from the German neo-primitive Georg Baselitz, who exhibited eight colossal paintings of upturned male nudes, icons that evoke Paleolithic associations...

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