In a sign that the coronavirus will continue to have long-lasting impact beyond the end of this year, the 2021 edition of the Venice Biennale, arguably the most important art event in the world, has been postponed. It will now happen one year later than expected, in 2022 instead. The postponement announcement came alongside news that this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale would also be pushed back.
The new dates for the Venice Biennale, which has Cecilia Alemani at the helm of the main exhibition, are April 23, 2022, to November 27, 2022, meaning that the festival will now coincide with Documenta 15, another premier European art exhibition. Meanwhile, the Venice Architecture Biennale, which is being overseen this year by Hashim Sarkis, is now slated for May 22, 2021, to November 22, 2021. The Venice Architecture Biennale had already been rescheduled once this year, in March, after its opening was moved back to August. But until now, it had been expected to open in 2020.
With more than 225,000 confirmed cases and more than 31,000 deaths from Covid-19, Italy has been among the countries most hard-hit by the pandemic. The postponement of both biennials points up just how dramatically the pandemic will continue to alter programming in the years to come.
Roberto Cicutto, Venice Biennale president, said in a statement, “The last few days have clarified the real state of the situation we are all facing. With the utmost respect for the work done by all of us, the investments made by the participants, and considering the difficulties that all countries, institutions, universities, [and] architectural studios have met, together with the uncertainty of the shipments, personal travel restraints, and Covid-19 protective measures that are being and [have been] adopted, we have decided to listen to those, the majority, who requested that the Biennale be postponed.”
This is the first time there will have been a three-year gap between editions of the Venice Biennale since 1990, when it was announced that the biennial’s expected 1992 edition would take place in 1993, so that the 1995 edition could take place on the Biennale’s 100th anniversary.
With the Venice Architecture Biennale delayed, all the expected major European art-world events of the summer will no longer take place. Art Basel’s Swiss fair, which is typically held in June, has been moved to September, and this year’s editions of the Berlin Biennale and the Manifesta biennial, to be staged in Marseille, France, are also being pushed back.