Theory, Culture and Society 34 (4):89-113 (2017)

Biennials – periodic, independent and international exhibitions surveying trends in visual art – have with startling speed become key nodes in linking production, distribution and consumption of contemporary art. Cultural production and consumption have been typically separated in research, neglecting phenomena, like biennials, sitting in between. Biennials have become, however, key sites of both the production of art’s discourse and where that discourse translates into practices of display and contexts of appreciation. They are, this article argues, key sites of art’s symbolic production. Symbolic production is what makes a work, an artist, or even a genre visible and relevant, providing its sense in a system of classifications and, in an exhibition like a biennial, literally giving it a place in the scene. This article proposes a cultural analysis of biennials, focusing on the Venice Biennale, founded in 1895 and the first of the genre, through which we can trace biennials’ rise and transformations.
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DOI 10.1177/0263276416667199
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The Field of Cultural Production: Essays on Art and Literature.Pierre Bourdieu & Randal Johnson - 1996 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 54 (1):88-90.
Cosmopolitan Art and Cultural Citizenship.David Chaney - 2002 - Theory, Culture and Society 19 (1-2):157-174.

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