In the recent ArtReview.com op-ed titled “The End of the Biennial?,” J. J. Charlesworth (2017) argues that the ubiquitous format of “large international exhibition” of contemporary art is starting to show signs of fatigue. Analogously, one could argue that this kind of criticism—which became customary, if not fashionable—among Western art-world professionals around the turn of the century has by now become predictable, prosaic, and tired.1

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Scrutinizing the recent editions of documenta, Manifesta, and the Venice Biennale, Charlesworth points out—quite rightly so—the inherent contradiction between increasingly nonartistic agendas, such as social transformation or political engagement, and the systemic inability to fulfill such promises. According to Charlesworth, documenta’s uncomfortable engagement with the austerity-hit capital city of Athens is the ultimate testament to the impotence of the biennial format, in relation to the real tensions of its host city. While his argument is somewhat confirmed with...

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