7 2003: Delegating Authority

Exhibitions in this chapter: Tirana Biennale 1: Escape (2001, Tirana, Albania); The 50th Venice Biennale. Dreams and Conflicts: The Dictatorship of the Viewer (2003, Venice, Italy)


This chapter focuses on the conjunction of biennial directors' delegations of authority through collaborations with other curators, and the power of star-curators. The collaborative and encyclopaedic approach to exhibition-making that curator Okwui Enwezor had so definitively mapped out during his long and very public preparations for Documenta11 at Kassel in 2002 was echoed immediately in other, contemporaneous exhibitions, most notably in The 50th Venice Biennale. Dreams and Conflicts: The Dictatorship of the Viewer (2003).1 But Dictatorship of the Viewer was more directly presaged by the loosely structured, multi-curator-directed Tirana Biennale 1, thematically titled Escape (2001). Veteran curator Francesco Bonami, who had been one of the many curators at Tirana, was to direct Dictatorship of the Viewer. His fiftieth edition of the Venice Biennale was notable for the scale of Bonami's delegation of curatorial authority to many, many other curators, as well as for the sheer, gargantuan quantity of art on display.2 This was to be prophetic. It pre-figured the almost inhuman size of other exhibitions to come (culminating with the enormous dOCUMENTA (13), in 2012) and also their fragmentation into many exhibitions that sought to locate or inhabit peripheries, ...

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