In terms of art events, or international art forums, the Biennale is generally the one event that I look forward to the most, partly because of its scale and setting: (89 participating countries this year) with a total of 104 exhibition spaces when taking the collateral events that are held throughout the city. But the real reason I look forward to it is that it presses my buttons and stimulates me in a way no other art fair does. When you visit an institutional event you never know what you're going to get.
Visiting the Biennale you have to consider the traditions, the stuffiness and the breathtaking setting before taking on what is being presented to you. Getting past that set of mind games sets you up for a magnified perception of things: you're likely to see a lot of art but you're not going to walk away with a lot of competing opinions. It's the Olympiad of the art world, and as a result, you have to be mentally strong and fit. After the first few pavilions you start to form clear ideas. No room for umming and ahhing otherwise you're not going to make any progress: there's so much to see that it can be a bit daunting.
So, how was it? Better than the last edition. Crippled by the plurality of the art world, and overrun by politics more so than in previous years. But more satisfying as a result, particularly because few of the usual hard hitters got it right this year. But more on that in the next posts.
In the meantime, if you want an overview head over to the official site.