Imitate Modern has been fortunate enough to visit the biggest art event The Venice Biennale of the year – this year’s theme, All the World’s Futures was curated by Okwui Enwezor. Hosted every two years in Italy this event is known to bring creme de la creme of art from around the world and is often referred to as the Olympics of the Art World. This was the 56th edition of the international exhibition,the first one dating back to 1895.
The Golden Lion for the best national participation went to Republic of Armenia and the award for the best artist to American Adrian Piper.
However, the Biennale is really not about winning but participation and we have seen some stunning contributions this year.
We would like to share our top 5 with you…
1. Starting from our home country, representing Great Britain was Sarah Lucas, who has filled the British pavilion this year with her sculptures of bodies: female legs animated with everyday objects like furniture or cigarettes and two giant yellow statues entitled Maradona of arguable gender but with a rather clear giant male attribute soaring into the air.
2. In contrast from what is expected from an art exhibition, the medium of painting was in scarce at the Biennale, with artists and curators choosing to exhibit installations, videos, statues and more innovative materials. Among the painted work which we found particularly exciting were canvasses by George Baselitz located at the Central pavilion. These paitings particularly stood out due to their gigantic size and undeniable presence.
3. This year’s Biennale has seen an array of video art. The highlight for us was the video installation in the basement of the German pavilion. The video artwork entitled Factory of the Sun by Hito Steyerl was projected in a large room with a cinema size screen which one could watch from the comfort of a deck chair. The film imitated a video game with breakdancing characters dressed in gold body suits, who each told their stories interrupted by faux German channel and insights behind the making of news and of the game itself. With a multi-layered plot and array of meaning, the story behind the video is hard to describe but is almost futuristic and certainly relevant reflecting on the contemporary state of affairs, as well as a captivating and aesthetically pleasing experience.
4. We visited a number of collateral events spread around the city of Venice and one of our favourites was the Union of Fire and Water organised by Yarat, a contemporary art non profit organisation from Baku, Azerbaijan. The exhibition was held in Palazzo Barbaro, the former residence of Giosafat Barbaro, a Venetian ambassador who travelled to and wrote extensively on Azerbaijani cities, which nicely played out with with the overall theme of the exhibition exploring the connection between Venice and Baku.
Above is an image of an installation by Rashad Alakbarov spelling out “Do Not Fear” with a shadow of carefully arranged oriental swords and daggers.
5. The installation at the Japan pavilion was amongst the most popular among visitors of the Biennale with an array of reposts on social media by art lovers. We could not resist either!
Chiharu Shota’s “Key in Hand” presented a complexly intertwined web of string with 50,000 keys hanging over rustic boats. “Keys are familiar and very valuable things that protect important people and spaces in our lives – they also inspire us to open the doors to unknown worlds.” – explains the artist
A truly beautiful installation that needs to be experienced!
Feel free to share your favourites with us and when you are there try not to tire yourself too much running around the city to see everything. Just remember when in Venice today is your day off, as noted in the artwork above by British conceptual artist Jeremy Deller.