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Call for Papers: ‘Biennialization and its counternarratives’ panel at the 108th CAA Annual Conference


The College Art Association (CAA) announces a Call for Papers for the 108th Annual Conference to be held in Chicago, 12-15 February 2020. From medieval art to the legacies of contemporary figures like Okwui Enwezor and Carolee Schneemann, the 2020 Annual Conference offers an enormous range of topics to explore. The confirmed sessions include Biennialization and its counternarratives chaired by Biennial Foundation Director, Rafal Niemojewski.

The deadline for submissions is 23 July 2019. Please consult general guidelines for participants listed in the 2020 CAA Call for Participation. A limited number of travel grants will be available to participants from outside United States. Selected contributions will be considered for publication.

Session description

Art world professionals and scholars rarely indulge in the exercise of counting the art museums in the world. On the other hand, the latest estimate of the actual number of contemporary art biennials became a permanent feature of every conference paper or publication on the subject.

This session will investigate the underlying motivations behind this strange case of arithmomania. It will interrogate the discourse of biennialization, which has been dominating debates surrounding contemporary art biennials over the past decade. Biennialization has, particularly within Western academic and professional circles, become a prominent buzzword, conjuring a diversity of associations, connotations and attendant mythologies. One of the characteristics of this discourse is a habitual conflation of the epistemology of biennials with several essentially contested concepts – such as globalization, gentrification or activism – which often leads to association fallacies. The session attempts to identify the latter, as well as other underlying assumptions and the ways in which the arguments made about the biennialization may be flawed or inconsistent with actual developments occurring around the world.

The aim of this session, intended as a polemic, is to provide a selection of most prevalent – and often competing – narratives and viewpoints in order to better understand how arguments about the contemporary biennial are currently framed and illuminate potential, new approaches to the subject.


In order to submit, gather the following and send via email to caa@biennialfoundation.org before 23 July 2019.

  • Completed proposal form (click to download).
  • A shortened CV (close to 2 pages).
  • (Optional) Documentation of work when appropriate, limit to five images as a single PDF, especially for sessions in which artists might discuss their own practice.