Paolo Baratta was officially reappointed President of the Venice Biennale yesterday, reports Artinfo. The announcement puts to rest months of controversy and speculation.
Barrata, age 72, served as Biennale President first from 1998 to 2002 and then 2007 to 2011. In October, he was informed that he would not be confirmed for a second term as biennale president in 2012, and would instead be replaced by food importer and media magnate Giulio Malgara, 73, a friend of former Italian prime minister Silvio Belusconi with no previous experience as a cultural official. The choice outraged many in the art community, prompting respected professionals such as Tate director Nicholas Serota and 54th Venice Biennale curator Bice Curiger to speak out in support of Baratta via an online petition.
After Berlusconi’s resignation as prime minister in October, the departure of his cultural minister Giancarlo Galan — the man responsible for Malgara’s appointment at the Biennale — shortly followed. Galan’s replacement Lorenzo Ornaghi publicly stated his wish for Baratta to stay on as Biennale president. Malgara officially withdrew his bid for the Biennale presidency in the same month.
Baratta was reappointed after discussions with the city and regional government officials in Venice. As head of the biennale, Baratta also oversees the Venice Film Festival, the Venice’s architecture biennale, and the city’s dance festival, among other events.