Longevity and reinvention: Venetianization and the Biennale

Gold, John Robert and Gold, Margaret (2022) Longevity and reinvention: Venetianization and the Biennale. In: Festivals and the city: the contested geographies of urban events. University of Westminster Press, London, pp. 149-168. ISBN 9781915445018


This chapter explores the development and urban implications of the Biennale. It contains five main parts. After considering the events and circumstances that led to the Biennale’s foundation in 1895, the ensuing section examines the politically inspired festivalization that characterised the 1930s, its growth after 1945 and its increasing ‘Venetianization’ – the term used by Clarissa Ricci (2010, 105) to describe the festival’s tendency to spread spatially from its original hub in the Giardini into locations scattered throughout the rest of the city. The final parts look at current issues, including the problems facing the city’s historic core and the rising disquiet of citizens feeling themselves overwhelmed by the impact of mass cultural tourism on the city’s everyday life. It is noted that the hiatus in activity caused by the response to COVID-19 has fed calls for rethinking Venice’s relationship with art, tourism, and urban development. The desire for a ‘new normal’ that is expressed in some quarters, juxtaposed with the views of those who wish to restore the status quo ante, provides an important dynamic for future discourse and practice.

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