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  • ILLUMInations – Nations? The Lack of Trustees

    On the Latest Structure of the International Venice Biennale

    Text: György Szegő

    Dionisio Gonzales: A Fény órái sorozat, Real Venice (a Foscari Canal torkolatában F. L. Wright 1953-as Memorial Masieri épülete)

    When we have had the chance to visit the biennale for thirty years, the concept of every year was defined by the chief trustee. This tendency was even more significant when architectural exhibitions were also organized there. After being invited for a discussion by the chief trustee, the national commissioners were eager to cooperate with more or less enthusiasm in the hope of attention and desired success.
    Having the tradition of being a world exhibition, the biennale also offered the opportunity of international orientation owing to the participation of nations and the independence of pavilions. This was reinforced by the fact that 30 countries have got a national pavilion of their own which induces general international participation in itself. Some of these countries represent the mainstream in the world of fine arts even today owing to their economic and political rank. The authority of the majority and the international prestige of their artists, however, have been pushed to the periphery if compared to the situation at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. Peripheral position in culture always means the promise of the future, but the present-day structure of the Biennale is not suited to make an impression of this. It has been especially true since 1999, when the new chairman, Paolo Baratta redefined and adjusted it to the new media of the „global village”. The call word of the chief trustee would be necessary even today, as it is justified by several memorable years. However, a trustee’s followable concept is also needed, so that the trustees of the national pavilions could complay with it without playing the role of minor trustees rising above nations. In today’s fun-fair – which was revised more than a decade ago and has interests in tourism, art trade, multimedia hardware – we would urgently have to turn to the genuine background – the social circles – of each national pavilion together with trustees and artists representing authentic concepts. Among others, it is also the responsibility of the Hungarian juries and trustees whether or not the renaissance could be born in our „periphery”.