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Contemporary Art Biennials in Europe

cabeContemporary Art Biennials in Europe: the Work of Art in the Complex City,

London and New York:



Contemporary Art Biennials in Europe: the Work of Art in the Complex City examines five urban situations in diverse parts of Europe. Roughly tracing a central horizontal trajectory from the western to the eastern edges of the continent, the events and cities covered are the Folkestone Triennial in the UK, Sculpture Projects Münster in Germany, the Venice Biennale in Italy, Belgrade’s Mikser Festival in Serbia and the Istanbul Biennial in Turkey.

After thirty years of a global ‘biennial boom’, this timely and expansive book interrogates the extent to which biennial events and their artworks seek to engage with the socio-cultural and political complexity of cities, in particular the work that is involved in this relationship. With its focus on Europe, the book also tells a composite story of continental difference at a moment of high tension, centring on matters of migration, political populism and uncertainty around the future form of the European Union.

Cover endorsement by Professor Carl Lavery, University of Glasgow, UK

“This book is the next instalment of Nicolas Whybrow’s innovative and hugely important work on art, performance and the city. In it, he adopts an alternative approach to biennial culture in Europe and seeks to show how the artworks in these ‘events’ have the possibility of producing a sense of location for the city dwellers who encounter and ‘use’ them as aesthetic compasses. The book is original, stylish, and innovative. I admire its clarity and creative attitude to a topic so often mired in cynical opportunism and understandable, if somewhat banal, critique. There is a real sense that the author is an expert in this field and he wears his knowledge with elegance and grace.”