Venice Biennale: Really Brief Intro

It’s difficult for me to think of anything in the Venice Biennial as separate from the exhibition as a whole. There were hundreds of fantastic works all throughout, with a few that really caught my attention, but it’s hard for me to focus on a single one. I’m still trying to find a single work to focus on as a first critique, but I think I should really talk about what it was like to go to the Biennale for the first time.

The Venice Biennale consists of individual pavilions for each country, as well as an overall exhibition that includes all of the artists at once. The promise of the biennale is that while remaining separate and distinct, the countries all come together in one overall, genre blending, mesmerizingly chaotic central exhibition.

Just thinking ideologically, I didn’t respond to the country-specific pavilions as much as I responded to the group as a whole, but it’s possible that it absolutely had to be that way. Each serves as a counterpoint against the other, in a shifting dialog of particularity and universal, a combination that celebrates a living archive of inclusion and separation.

I know the biennale had its own methodology, but my approach here is to write about it only from my point of view. Beside’s the overall theme of the Biennale was incredibly vague. It was called “May You Live in Interesting Times”, which honestly could be the same as a phrase like “Stuff Happens”, or “Being with Things.” Which is bizarre considering how important and pressing our needs are as a global community at this moment. To me the things that mattered most were works that focused on climate, oppression, racism, and modern spirituality.

Over the next few weeks I will focus on the Lithuanian Pavilion: Sun and Sea, Shilpa Gupta’s For, In Your Tongue, I Cannot Fit, Korakrit Arunanondchai’s With History in a Room Filled with People with Funny Names, and Arthur Jafa’s White Album.


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