Abstract- Francesca Franco

(full paper) http://hdl.handle.net/10002/456

Democracy and Art at the Venice Biennale. The Legacy of 1968

This paper investigates the way new media art affected the Venice Biennale in the late 60s. In particular it analyses how the developments of technology in art amplified the critical situation the Venice Biennale was facing at that time and how the art institution responded to this crisis.
The Venice Biennale, the oldest International festival of contemporary art in the world, has gone through several crises - political, cultural and institutional – since its very beginning in 1895. One pivotal node in the history of this institution is the year 1968, when Categories and First Prizes were abolished by the Biennale’s Statute. Responsible for such a change was not only the cultural revolution against bourgeois society and capitalism that shook Europe in the late 60s, but also the parallel revolution that computer art and experiments in art and technology brought to the art world during the same time.
By looking at the Venice Biennale as a miniature reflection of the changes that happened in the broad art world in response to technology, this article tackles critical questions around the identity crisis that affected the Venice Biennale in 1968. What kind of consequences did this crisis introduce to the Biennale? How did new media art affect the art institution? How did the Venice Biennale come to terms with the concept of democratization of art?