Contemporary artist Zhanna Kadyrova also explores duplicity in her 2017 installation Market. The work consists of a fake market stall, comprised of fruit, meat, fish and vegetables all made of heavy building materials, all for sale according to their weight (1€ per gram, for example, although the currency changes depending on where the work is being exhibited). Playful and colourful, the installation is reminiscent of children playing at going to the market with plastic fruits and vegetables; however, this naivety in its appearance contrasts the purpose of the piece – to represent the violation of pricing rules that is common in the cut-throat art market. A perfect example of the irony that is customary of satire, the artist here is actually able to make a living out of this fictional market, something many artists are unable to do through reliance on the art market alone.
And what of memes, that computerised form of satire that has dominated the mainstream since the early 2000s? Well, you will find seldom Pepe the Frog references in this exhibition. Slavs and Tatars stated that compared to the “golden age of caricatures from the French Revolution, or British caricatures of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, which were very politically articulate, memes lack this density and acute political awareness; they’re about superficiality.” But where the exhibition lacks in memes, it makes up for in sheer scope and diversity.
Like all great satire, this Biennial asks an important question. This being that in respect to the power of art in the face of fascist doctrine and illiberal, unfair policies, does art really make a difference? An age-old question that the viewer must look to context, as when looking to satire, to discover the truth of.