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There is good art and there is bad art, but the Venice biennale is depressing for wider reasons. To a critic, the globalised art market makes no sense at all

By Ben Lewis   July 2005

I went right through the biennale—all the 20 or so national pavilions, the usual greatest hits survey in the Italian pavilion, and the always enormous cutting-edge-young-artists pot pourri in the Arsenale, without finding what I wanted: something that would give me a glimmer of hope. I was now in the Chinese pavilion, the first ever in the biennale’s 110-year history. The sign at the entrance posed this question: “What is the ontology of a national pavilion?” With these words a brand new layer of self-referentiality had been added to the already top-heavy structure of contemporary art. A few decades ago…

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