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Frances Stark, My Best Thing (video still), in “ILLUMInations” at the 54th Venice Biennale
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by Jerry Saltz

I went to Venice, and I came back worried. Every two years, the central attraction of the biennale is a kind of State of the Art World show. This year’s, called “ILLUMInations,” has its share of high points and ­artistic intensity. (Frances Stark’s animated video of her online masturbatory tryst with a younger man hooked me; Christian Marclay’s The Clock, which captivated New York earlier this year, rightly won the Gold Lion Prize for Best ­Artist.) Yet many times over -- too many times for comfort -- I saw the same thing, a highly recognizable generic ­institutional style whose manifestations are by now extremely familiar. Neo-Structuralist film with overlapping geometric colors, photographs about photographs, projectors screening loops of grainy black-and-white archival footage, abstraction that’s supposed to be referencing other abstraction -- it was all there, all straight out of the 1970s, all dead in the ­water. It’s work stuck in a cul-de-sac of esthetic regress, where everyone is deconstructing the same elements.