The final 10 years of the 20th century have been called the beginning of the end of history. As the Soviet Union fell and the nuclear dread of the Cold War faded (only to be replaced by the constant policing of terrorism), capitalist democracy propelled a decade of steady growth in America. Yet the preeminence of these opposing superpowers was also broken up in the ’90s by the process of globalization—the diffusion of business and culture across national boundaries. With the rise of cable television, mobile phones, and the World Wide Web, multiculturalism became the sign of the times. The art world, too, fragmented and decentered, embraced a rich array of disparate practices and movements.
As the digital age came into full swing, many artists responded by gravitating towards issues of tangible lived experience and identity. Politicized bodies, site-specific installations, and the position of art itself within global culture took center stage in the biennial exhibitions that grew in both number and stature across the world.