A moment to celebrate? Art of the Caribbean at the Venice Biennale

Asquith, Wendy and Wainwright, Leon (2020). A moment to celebrate? Art of the Caribbean at the Venice Biennale. Journal of Curatorial Studies, 9(1) pp. 40–68.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1386/jcs_00010_1

Abstract

In recent years, the sporadic presence of various Caribbean national pavilions at the Venice Biennale (Jamaica, 2001; Haiti, 2011; Bahamas, 2013; Grenada, 2015, 2017 and 2019; Antigua and Barbuda, 2017 and 2019; Dominican Republic, 2019) has on each occasion been almost unanimously applauded as marking some sort of moment of ‘arrival’ or ‘becoming’ for artists of the Caribbean and the local institutional structures and professionals that surround them. This paper seeks to critically explore what the gains are of such a presence beyond the fleeting ‘Venice Effect’ – of mega-hyped exposure to international audiences, curators, gallerists and other market actors. The alleged benefits-for-all of contemporary cultural exchange, in an expanding globalizing field such as Venice, are by no means shared equally and such discourses gloss over layers of uneven privilege embedded within the institution.

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