SITE Santa Fe’s Attempt to Kill the Biennial

SANTA FE, New Mexico — SITE Santa Fe claims to have established the first international art biennial in the United States. The year was 1995, the theme was “Longing and Belonging,” the raison d’être was to create a global exhibition in lil’ ole Santa Fe, and the response was so strong, according to the organization’s current director and curator, Irene Hofmann, that “SITE Santa FE” shifted from the name of a biennial to a cultural institution with full-time programming the very next year.

Is the Middle East the Next Global Cultural Center?

The Financial Times kicks off a polemical article with the knock-out sentence, “Europe as a cultural centre is in danger of being eclipsed by the Middle East as western heritage industries struggle with swinging austerity measures.” Speaking to the recession-induced cuts to Western cultural organizations, the Times argues that the Middle East’s status as the locus of international money (based on oil and human capital) make it a more stable patron of the arts, and thus “the new cultural capital of the world.” Including a quote from Met director-emeritus Phillipe de Montebello, the argument runs that as water flows downhill, culture flows toward money. This is a stupid, reductive way to think of a globalizing art world that has never been larger or more universally accessible.

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