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04 May 2009

Publication Open 16, cahier on art and the public domain

© Cover Open 16

The Art Biennial as a Global Phenomenon. Strategies in Neo-Political Times


Publication date: Spring 2009

Tel: 0031-20-672 25 25
0031-20-379 28 09

Ruysdaelkade 2
1072 AG Amsterdam
The Netherlands

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Not only is there a boom in international art biennials, but they are also increasingly deployed for developing and marketing cities and regions. In order to compensate for this, political issues are more and more often put on the agenda. Can biennials really represent an alternative political voice? This fifth anniversary issue of Open contains a number of lectures delivered at the debate on this issue in October 2008 in connection with the first Brussels Biennial. Together with supplementary texts, a 'reader' has been created in which the biennial as a global phenomenon is analysed and approached not only in terms of an art theoretical discourse or curatorial practice, but also on the basis of more sociological and politico-philosophical points of view.

Some essays deal directly with the biennial, while other essays, such as those of Hardt and Mouffe, reveal different conditions and relationships within the social and political reality that the biennial is part of, putting forward proposals and posing questions that could be addressed by art and its scene. The result of the reflections and propositions in Open 16 is by no means unequivocal, but all the 'strategies in neo-political times' that are articulated express the urgency of not taking the biennial as a global phenomenon for granted. There are also signs of a shared awareness that it cannot be regarded separately from the logic of neoliberal markets.

In the context of Open as a series of anthologies in which the changing conditions of the public domain are examined from a cultural perspective, the subject of the biennial represents a possibility to look at the way in which this phenomenon and its legitimizing discourses relate to ideas about the city and urban politics, to new notions of publicness and to the implications of processes such as globalization and mediatization.

Open 16 is co-produced with Dorian van der Brempt, director of deBuren; Dirk de Wit at BAM and Pascal Gielen of Fontys University in Tilburg, who was the guest-editor of this issue.

With contributions by: Pascal Gielen, Michael Hardt, Chantal Mouffe, Thierry de Duve, Boris Groys, Simon Sheikh, Brian Holmes, Charles Esche, Maria Hlavajova and Irit Rogoff


Open, cahier on art and the public domain (ed. Jorinde Seijdel and Liesbeth Melis) is published in The Netherlands by NAi Publishers ( together with SKOR (

Price Euro 24,50 (Dutch) and 29,50 (English)

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