Agency and/or Creator

Emily Lauren Putnam, IDSVAFollow





Download Full Text (15.1 MB)

Document Type



During the Biennale, Venice, with its unique urban topography and waterscape, functions as a staging ground for nations and other political and cultural groups. Unlike the crop of biennials that have recently exploded on the art scene, the Venice Biennale is the world’s longest running festival of its kind. Its origins coincide with both the crystallization of capitalism in the nineteenth century, the creation of a unified Italian nation, and major challenges to European colonialism. A distinctive characteristic of the Venice Biennale is its reliance on an exhibition setup modeled on the cultural display of modern, sovereign nations, which has persisted over time. In recent decades, neoliberalism has impacted the geopolitical layout and the inclusion of nations at the Venice Biennale as a site where gestures—artistic, curatorial, institutional, political, tourist, and urban—are involved in the production and exhibition of contemporary art. These gestures are some of the means by which nations are presented, enacted, modeled, behaved, revealed, contained, erased, and experienced. In this dissertation, I read such gestures within the context of select national pavilion exhibitions and what the Biennale calls “collateral events” from 1993 to the present through the lens of critical theory, visual studies, and performance studies in order to examine how such gestures enable and reveal material relations and the structuring of power in neoliberalism, where freedom is placed under erasure.

Exact Creation Date





Arts and Humanities | European Languages and Societies | Philosophy


Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts


Portland, Maine

Venice Biennale: Staging Nations



Rights Statement

Rights Statement

In Copyright. URI:
This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).


To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.