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Review: Art for the Planet’s Sake at the Venice Biennale

May 16, 2015

56th Venice Biennale: Pamela Rosenkranz’s pool of pink-tinged water at the Swiss Pavilion.CreditCasey Kelbaugh for The New York Times

VENICE — The world is a mass of intractable ills on which art must shed light. With oceans rising, climates warming, the income gap widening and human rights abuses of every imaginable kind occurring, the very future of the planet — its many futures — hangs in the balance. This is not the time for art as an object of contemplation or delight, much less a market commodity — certainly not in a public exhibition whose chief responsibility is to stimulate debate.

That basically is the provocative but also confining message behind “All the World’s Futures,” the lopsided central exhibition at the sprawling 56th Venice Biennale, which runs through Nov. 22. Organized by Okwui Enwezor, a veteran curator of international undertakings like this, “All the World’s Futures” brings out into the open a central preoccupation of the moment, namely the limiting belief that art is not doing its job unless it has loud and clear social concerns, a position whose popularity has made “social practice” the latest new thing to be taught in art schools. (more)



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