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The biennale is the most widespread form of large-scale exhibition in the world today. It has already left the museum behind as the primary venue where an expanding global public can access the current manifestations and debates in contemporary art. Depending on which body of research you consult, there are between 200 and 250 biennales in existence, in varying states of animation and realised at different levels of scale and intensity. But certainly the number is growing, and while the traditional centres of biennale activity are situated in West Europe, most of the new biennales are located in the global South, in Asia, Africa and Latin America; and in the former Cold-War frontline states of East Europe and the Soviet Union’s successor states. We have structured this issue as a symposium in several genres, so as to address various aspects of the biennial form, its contexts, achievements and possibilities. We have not commented on this scene from the outside; rather, we have reflected on it with empathy as well as criticality, in the artisanal spirit of those who are all too keenly aware of the occupational hazards of the form, and yet remain optimistic about its potential to effect actual cultural and political transformation. - Ranjit Hoskote Excerpt from editorial essay

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