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Biennale practices: making and sustaining visual art platforms

Biennale practices: making and sustaining visual art platforms
Biennale practices: making and sustaining visual art platforms
Since the 19th century, sites of artistic production and display intended to attract an
international audience have proliferated. This phenomenon is visible in the number
and geographical diversity of public and private museums, expos, galleries, art fairs
and biennials. Biennials, over 300 of which are estimated to exist today, are
manifestations of what Horkheimer and Adorno termed the ‘Culture Industry’, at
once spectacular and flattening in their effects. However, this theory minimises the
role of site-specific practices in counteracting these homogenising effects in making
and sustaining arts platforms and exhibitory models. Despite the variety of visual art
biennials in existence today, there is a growing sense of standardisation and
homogeneity in the field. This phenomenon is described here as ‘biennialisation’.
Since the 1980s researchers have attempted to elucidate the format, though it
remains difficult to conjecture how to create meaningful outcomes and impact in an
increasingly interconnected and commercialised sphere. To date, few attempts have
been made to fundamentally reconfigure approaches to the making and sustaining
of biennials and to reframe their discoursive domain.
This practice-based PhD draws upon my role as an arts writer, researcher and
producer and extensive engagement with the international artworld to reflect upon
these phenomenon. It draws directly upon my working methods sustained over the
duration of the research to illuminate key aspects of what I argue for as ‘biennale
practices’. This practice has developed to produce an articulation of a set of evolving
critical tools that allows for a conceptualisation and analysis of the field, imagining
new evaluative methodologies and theoretical approaches.
This research practice combines with a reading of theories by sociologist Pierre
Bourdieu and economist Amartya Sen to offer an alternative organisational and
strategic paradigm and an expanded evaluative framework to inform local and
international arts policy, planning and curricula. This theoretical synthesis (Sen
Bourdieu Analytical Framework) offers a conceptual model that illustrates the socially
dynamic processes within and through which audiences, artists, art professionals,
funders and policymakers engage with formal and informal cultural fields. Another
approach is to view art-producing practices as interconnected processes; the
platforming phenomenon is producing practices that in turn contribute to the
production of sustainable arts organisations such as biennials. In this sense, we can
also consider how practitioners not only help shape sites such as biennials, but also
may in turn shape evaluative and methodological strategies in the wider artistic and
cultural field.
University of Southampton
Patel, Shwetal Ashvinbhai
e6b94a60-9b77-42ab-bb27-38fe5954d0e5
Patel, Shwetal Ashvinbhai
e6b94a60-9b77-42ab-bb27-38fe5954d0e5
Bishop, Ryan
a4f07e31-14a0-44c4-a599-5ed96567a2e1
Manghani, Sunil
75650a9a-458d-4e1a-9480-94491300e385

Patel, Shwetal Ashvinbhai (2020) Biennale practices: making and sustaining visual art platforms. University of Southampton, Doctoral Thesis, 1025pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

Since the 19th century, sites of artistic production and display intended to attract an
international audience have proliferated. This phenomenon is visible in the number
and geographical diversity of public and private museums, expos, galleries, art fairs
and biennials. Biennials, over 300 of which are estimated to exist today, are
manifestations of what Horkheimer and Adorno termed the ‘Culture Industry’, at
once spectacular and flattening in their effects. However, this theory minimises the
role of site-specific practices in counteracting these homogenising effects in making
and sustaining arts platforms and exhibitory models. Despite the variety of visual art
biennials in existence today, there is a growing sense of standardisation and
homogeneity in the field. This phenomenon is described here as ‘biennialisation’.
Since the 1980s researchers have attempted to elucidate the format, though it
remains difficult to conjecture how to create meaningful outcomes and impact in an
increasingly interconnected and commercialised sphere. To date, few attempts have
been made to fundamentally reconfigure approaches to the making and sustaining
of biennials and to reframe their discoursive domain.
This practice-based PhD draws upon my role as an arts writer, researcher and
producer and extensive engagement with the international artworld to reflect upon
these phenomenon. It draws directly upon my working methods sustained over the
duration of the research to illuminate key aspects of what I argue for as ‘biennale
practices’. This practice has developed to produce an articulation of a set of evolving
critical tools that allows for a conceptualisation and analysis of the field, imagining
new evaluative methodologies and theoretical approaches.
This research practice combines with a reading of theories by sociologist Pierre
Bourdieu and economist Amartya Sen to offer an alternative organisational and
strategic paradigm and an expanded evaluative framework to inform local and
international arts policy, planning and curricula. This theoretical synthesis (Sen
Bourdieu Analytical Framework) offers a conceptual model that illustrates the socially
dynamic processes within and through which audiences, artists, art professionals,
funders and policymakers engage with formal and informal cultural fields. Another
approach is to view art-producing practices as interconnected processes; the
platforming phenomenon is producing practices that in turn contribute to the
production of sustainable arts organisations such as biennials. In this sense, we can
also consider how practitioners not only help shape sites such as biennials, but also
may in turn shape evaluative and methodological strategies in the wider artistic and
cultural field.

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More information

Published date: October 2020

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 447174
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/447174
PURE UUID: 061c7c83-83bf-46cd-94e9-943f739bba20
ORCID for Sunil Manghani: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-6406-7456

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 04 Mar 2021 17:40
Last modified: 13 Dec 2021 03:10

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Contributors

Author: Shwetal Ashvinbhai Patel
Thesis advisor: Ryan Bishop
Thesis advisor: Sunil Manghani ORCID iD

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