Aperto '93

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The Arsenale in Venice where the exhibition Aperto '93 took place.

Aperto ’93 is the title of an exhibition of contemporary art conceived by Helena Kontova and Giancarlo Politi, and organized by Helena Kontova for the XLV edition of the Venice Biennale, directed by Achille Bonito Oliva in 1993. It reprised and expanded the concept of the exhibition Aperto, a new section in the Biennale for young artists ideated by Bonito Oliva and Harald Szeemann in 1980.

Concept and realisation[edit]

The show, entitled “Emergency/Emergenze,” signified a shift in the history of exhibition making. Instead of proposing a vision developed by a sole curator – or curatorial team – Aperto ’93 proposed a rhizomic or cellular model. In this model different points of view related to the then emerging scene, deeply influenced by the process of globalization, underlined the necessity of coexistence and cohabitation and furthermore a fragmentation of the way to think and criticize visual art.

Kontova the editor, together with Politi, of Flash Art Italia and Flash Art International (www.flashartonline.com), took over the legacy of “Aperto” the section of the Venice Biennale devoted to emerging artists created in 1980 and inaugurated with a show curated by Achille Bonito Oliva and Harald Szeemann and then abolished in 1997 by Jean Clair.[1]

The curators altered the emphasis from a mere section into a "show within a show," featuring works by 120 artists including: Laura Aguilar, Matthew Barney, Henry Bond, Christine Borland, Maurizio Cattelan, John Currin, Sylvie Fleury, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Lothar Hempel, Damien Hirst, Carsten Höller, Sean Landers, Paul McCarthy, Gabriel Orozco, Philippe Parreno, Simon Patterson, Charles Ray, Pipilotti Rist, Andres Serrano, Kiki Smith, Rudolf Stingel, Rikrit Tiravanija, Andrea Zittel, Wu Shanzhuan, Wang Youshen, Emmanuel Kane Kuei and Botala Tala.

Anticipating "the curators’ era," Aperto ’93 consisted of 13 sections, each of them managed by then-emerging curators, many of whom are now internationally acclaimed, such as Francesco Bonami (first Italian to curate the Whitney Biennial), Nicolas Bourriaud (theoretician of Relational Art), Jeffrey Deitch (director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles), Matthew Slotover (founder of Frieze magazine and art fair), Benjamin Weil and Robert Nickas.

Critical reception[edit]

The show became a cult event of the ’90s, managing to frame what was happening at that time.[citation needed]

Artforum published a review entitled "Aperto 93: The Better Biennale".[2] The model of Aperto ’93 is often quoted by curators, and it was a source of inspiration for the 2003 Venice Biennale directed by Francesco Bonami, the first Moscow Biennale, the second Johannesburg Biennale directed by Okwui Enwezor, and the first and second Gwangju Biennale.

Artists in Aperto '93[edit]


  • Giannattasio, Sandra (17 December 1992). "La Biennale di Bonito Oliva annuncia a Venezia le tendenze di fine secolo" (PDF). Avanti!, no. 296. p. 18.
  • "Biennale di Venezia Aperto '93 Emergenze". Flash Art, a. XXVI, no. 175. May 1993. p. 69.


  1. ^ Rosa Martínez, in Carolee Thea, Foci: Interviews with ten international curator (Apex Art, New York, 2001): p.80
  2. ^ Giorgio Verzotti, "Aperto 93": the better biennale, Artforum (October, 1993)


External links[edit]