The twenty-third Biennale has been highly anticipated through two long years since Brook Andrew’s twenty-second Biennale suddenly closed in March 2020 as Covid took hold of the country, not to reopen for three months.
This year’s guiding idea, rīvus – meaning stream, but embracing rivers, fresh water, saltwater, lagoons, banks, confluences – is peculiarly topical, as water resources, in both scarcity and flood, become every year a more urgent issue. As the global world of contemporary art comes to terms with travel restrictions imposed by Covid, Colombian Artistic Director José Roca’s project is exemplary in its attentiveness to social, environmental, and personal issues. It takes part of its inspiration from recent legal developments in Ecuador, New Zealand, and elsewhere that granted legal status to natural entities such as rivers. And right there, in this developing ecology of bold ideas, is where rīvus both flourishes and struggles.