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Symbolic Production in the Art Biennial: Making Worlds

Sassatelli, Monica. 2017. Symbolic Production in the Art Biennial: Making Worlds. Theory, Culture and Society, 34(4), pp. 89-113. ISSN 0263-2764 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

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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art world, biennial, cultural institutions, exhibitions, globalization, symbolic production

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24 July 2016Accepted
5 October 2016Published Online
1 July 2017Published

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Date Deposited:

01 Nov 2016 10:15

Last Modified:

28 Feb 2019 09:14

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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