What’s on at the 57th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia

Art introduced as a vital source of reflection, resistance and freedom

19-05-201706:10by
A general view of S Giorgio and Giudecca Canal in Venice
A general view of S Giorgio and Giudecca Canal in Venice (Credits: Marco Secchi/Getty Images)

The 57th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, held in locations throughout the city, opened to the public on May 13, and will remain open until November 26, 2017. The main exhibition occupies both the Central Pavilion in the city’s Giardini area and the old Arsenale building. It is divided into nine “trans-pavilions” with 120 artists participating, while other separate national pavilions are independently set up by 86 countries, including Antigua and Barbuda, Kiribati, and Nigeria that are participating for the first time.

Curator Christine Macel chose the title of the exhibition: “Viva Arte Viva”, which, in her own words, “is an exclamation, a passionate outcry for art and the state of the artist”. She added that the current edition of La Biennale is “designed with artists, by artists and for artists”. Art and life are therefore at the centre-stage of all the pavilions, where art is depicted as a vital source of reflection, resistance and freedom. Political messages are also everywhere, showing how much creativity matters in interpreting our daily lives and the countless challenges of this century.

The many visitors will remember their experience in Venice mostly because of the German pavilion (Germany has won top Golden Lion prizes for the best national pavilion and best artist, thanks to Anne Imhof’s bold “Faust” exhibit mixing performance, sculpture and installation), and Damien Hirs’s “Treasures from the Wreck of The Unbelievable”, a huge display of fake salvaged antiques. Nevertheless, the most iconinc piece is probably Italian artist Lorenzo Quinn‘s installation called “Support”. The monumental sculpture portrays a pair of gigantic hands rising from the water to support the walls of the Ca’ Sagredo Hotel, with the aim or representing the impact of climate change and rising sea levels on Venice. Lorenzo Quinn declared that he has sculpted “what is considered the hardest and most technically challenging part of the human body. The hand holds so much power – the power to love, to hate, to create, to destroy”.

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