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Last on

Tue 16 Jun 2009 11:30 BBC Radio 4

30 minutes
First broadcast:
Tuesday 16 June 2009

Art critic Waldemar Januszczak visits the world's oldest and most prestigious international contemporary art festival.

In the century that has passed since the Venice Biennale was established in 1895, this festival of art, founded to showcase the work of artists, has come to attract the attention of politicians. Governments realising the propaganda value of the event have taken an increasing interest in the presence of their artists. Waldemar Januszczak, who attended the opening of the 2009 Biennale, considers how this 19th-century creation is coping with the numerous demands of a 21st-century world, and asks what the future holds for the festival.

The programme features contributions from:

Steve McQueen, the artist officially representing Britain at the Venice Biennale
Andrea Rose, the Commissioner for the British Pavilion
Daniel Birnbaum, the artistic director of the 2009 Biennale
Artists Shezad Dawood, Khosrow Hassanzadeh and Zolaykha Sherzad from the East-West Divan exhibition
Art critic William Feaver
Cuauhtémoc Medina from the Mexican Pavilion
Kristina Norman from the Estonian Pavilion.


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