“Tis the season to be jolly … circumspect. As regards art, despite suggestions from some art professionals that biennials and other recurring art festivals are an exhausted format, 2017 offered up an embarrassment of riches, some more embarrassing than others as it turned out.

The conjunction of the five-yearly Documenta, the Venice, Moscow and Jakarta biennials; the 6th Asian Art Biennial in Taipei; and a newly minted Jeju Biennale made for a particularly packed art calendar. Even Antarctica had its first biennial. Before revisiting some of the notable 2017 shows in Tokyo, it’s worth having a quick look at the two most renowned international art events to put Japan’s offerings into context.

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