Radical Exhibiting and the Representation of Solidarity at the 1974 Venice Biennale
This thesis examines the 1973 institutional restructuring of the Venice Biennale and the radical programming that resulted from it. For the first time in its history, the Biennale engaged deeply with leftist political discourse, and set forth a series of programs that were fundamentally committed to politics and civic engagement. Titled Liberta al Cite (Freedom for Chile) with the subheading, per una cultura democratica e antifascista (for a democratic and anti-fascist culture), the Biennale's 1974 program demonstrated solidarity in its commemoration of the one-year anniversary of the military coup in Chile, and also signaled the Biennale's moment of transition. Though never recognized as a true Biennale, the events were presented by the organization as a 'prologue' to indicate the intent to continue its engagement in politics and with local audiences in the future. Through a study of the history of the Biennale, I trace the long-standing criticism of the institution alongside some important milestones that led to the restructuring in 1973. I also closely examine some of the productions of the Biennale, the outdoor mural and photography installations on display, and the experimental catalogue. These productions are studied in relation to Chile's political history, suggesting that a mirroring of Chilean political activism took place at the events that year. Further, by placing the productions in dialogue with some of the avant-garde exhibitions and artistic practices of the time, I argue that the Biennale stands as an important precursor to exhibition models that have developed since. This project aims not only to situate the 1974 events firmly in the history of the Biennale, but also to highlight Liberta al Cite's program as important to the history of exhibitions in general.