Back in early March, about a week before the coronavirus wave fully crested in New York and broke throughout the rest of the United States, the Venice Biennale announced that it had officially decided to delay its late May architectural edition. The organizers pushed the debut to August 29, thereby turning the quintessentially summertime event into an unfurling fall happening. At the time, northern Italy was already in full-blown crisis mode, grappling with the pandemic’s devastating public health effects. And while the situation in the inundated region may be improved by this summer, the fair must be delayed again—and this time, to spring 2021.
“The decision to postpone the Biennale Architettura to May 2021 is an acknowledgment that it is impossible to move forward within the set time limits in the realization of such a complex and worldwide exhibition, due to the persistence of a series of objective difficulties caused by the effects [of] the health emergency underway,” the organization said in a press statement, which was released today. The news was also reported on by art news outlets such as Art News, The Art Newspaper, and Artnet News. Interestingly, the theme of the fair—“How Will We Live Together?”—is a question that has only become more pressing and relevant in recent months.
Of course, given that the more-famous art iterations of the biennale usually occur during odd-numbered years, the second part of this news is that the organization’s next international art exhibition now won’t take place until 2022. As multiple outlets noted, this means that it will now coincide with other art world events, most notably Germany’s Documenta. But, of course, this overlap will likely be part of a more widespread phenomenon. In the wake of so many delayed or canceled events, there’s bound to be a jam-packed year or two when fairs and festivals can finally be held safely again.