Contemporary Venice 2017
The Venice Biennale is the world’s largest and longest-running contemporary art exhibition. The 2017 International Exhibition of the Biennale – ‘Viva Arte Viva’ – is curated by Christine Macel who has a long and distinguished international reputation. The exhibition takes two major sites, the Giardini (Gardens) and the old shipyards, the ‘Arsenale’.
Christine Macel has chosen 120 artists from many countries. Unusually she decided not to propose a central theme preferring to give to the different generations of artists the opportunity to show their modus operandi: the practice of being an artist – to foreground the artists’ interests and creative processes and create a direct dialogue with the public. To further this there are a series of weekly round table to discuss issues with artists – to participate it is simply necessary to reserve your place.
There are 86 national pavilions – autonomously curated by the Ministries of Culture and Foreign Affairs of each State. 2017 saw the German pavilion – and the work of Anne Imhof – win the Jury Prize for best pavilion. The criteria for their judgement described: ‘a powerful and disturbing installation that poses urgent questions about our time. It pushes the spectator to a state of anxiety. An original response to the architecture of the pavilion, Imhof’s work is also characterized by precise decisions about objects, images, bodies and sounds.’
Approaching the German pavilion the exterior gives the impression of a building which has been abandoned to squatter and their hungry and nervous Dobermans. Walking on a pathway above a floor of glass one sees performers beneath one’s feet + beneath the glass. A violent, intrusive soundscape counterpoises at times moments of extreme lyricism and poetry: a multi-layered work of metaphor and allusion.
There are also 23 independent exhibitions which are not part of the official Biennale but listed in the Biennale catalogue. For anyone with a passion of the art of the 1960s + 70s a visit to the Accademia Galleries to see the Philip Guston show is rewarding, while on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore there are exhibitions showing works by Michelangelo Pistoletto, Alighiero Boetti, Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol. At the Querini Stampalia one can explore the space designed by Carlo Scarpa to see works by Giovanni Anselmo.
If you are interested in glass then Glasstress at the bridge of the Accademia is a must see exhibition. On the San Giorgio Island there are glassworks by the Italian designer Ettore Sottsass. The American Pae White has a site specific installation at San Giorgio Maggiore. On Murano Island at the Glass museum there are glass works by the Italian architect and designer Gaetano Pesce.
The Museo Fortuny has a new exhibition coproduced by the Vervoordt Foundation entitled ‘Intuition’. The Fortuny museum is housed in a 15th Century Gothic palace which became the residence & workshop of the painter, inventor, fashion designer, interior decorator and photographer Mariano Fortuny. The exhibition ‘Intuition’ juxtaposes historic works with those by contemporary artists to investigate the concept of intuition.
At the Peggy Guggenheim Collection you will find the permanent collection and two temporary exhibitions: Rita Kernn-Larsen. Surrealist Paintings (will close on June 26th, 2017) and Mark Tobey: Threading Light (will close on September 10th, 2017).
The current project at the Prada Foundation is the result of collaboration between the sculptor and photographer Thomas Demand, the philosopher, academic and film director Alexander Kluge, and the stage and costume designer as well as director Anna Viebrock. Title: ‘The Boat is Leaking. The Captain Lied’. We prefer not to reveal too much of this exhibition, it has to be a personal discovery, a quest. Central to the story is a painting by the Italian artist Angelo Morbelli (1853-1919) which Thomas Demand sent to the collaborators. Its title is Giorni ultimi! dated back to 1883 (a version of this painting comes from the Ca’ Pesaro Museum of Modern art in Venice).
Among the art works which you might just miss but which are worth the time to go and see are the installations of Elisabetta di Maggio at the Querini Stampalia, the video by Shirin Neshat at the Correr Museum and works made with fire and smoke by the Armenian artist Bogosian at Ca’ Zenobio.
Can you guess which of all the artistic offerings in Venice right now has generated the biggest stir amongst the public and critics? Yes – it’s ‘Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable’ by Damien Hirst at the Pinault Foundation which has two large sites: the Punta della Dogana (Customs’ House) and Palazzo Grassi (the last great palace built on the Grand Canal). With nearly 200 works crated specificaly for this show, this is a new Damien Hirst who is in an ironic dialogue with the art of classical antiquity.
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