“New Media, Politics and the 1968 Venice Biennale” presented by Franco


Session Title:

  • Histories of Media Arts

Presentation Title:

  • New Media, Politics and the 1968 Venice Biennale




  • My paper explores the way new media art and politics affected the Venice Biennale in the late 1960s and how the Venice Biennale engaged with the notion of democratization of art between 1966 and 2001.

    1966 represents a pivotal node in the history of this institution, when Categories and First Prizes were abolished by the Biennale’s Charter. Responsible for such a change was not only the cultural revolution against bourgeois society and capitalism that shook Europe in the late 1960s, but also the parallel revolution that computer art and experiments in art and technology brought to the art world during the same time.

    By looking at the Venice Biennale as a miniature reflection of the broader changes that happened in the art world in response to developments in technology and new media art, my paper analyzes the way technology brought to the Biennale a new wave of creativity but at the same time an element of destabilization to the traditional asset of the institution. I will analyze two political projects related to the concept of urban intervention and democratic space presented to the Biennale in 1990 by Krzysztof Wodiczko and Jenny Holzer. How do we interpret such examples in the context of the discourse of democratization of art?

    Other questions I am going to address are the following: what kind of consequences did the 1966 crisis introduce to the Biennale? How did new media art affect the art institution? How to interpret social radicalism and new media art in the context of the Venice Biennale, particularly after 1968? How did the Venice Biennale come to terms with the concept of democratization of art?

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