Highlights From Venice Art Biennale 2019: Part 01.
The 58th International Art Event La Biennale di Venezia is, as usual, drawing crowds to Italy’s city on water. Titled “May You Live In Interesting Times”, this year’s exhibition, curated by Ralph Rugoff, explores the role of art in prompting dialogue around the current zeitgeist, with works chosen for their openness to interpretation and critical engagement. Many works play on the influence of AI and technology on humanity, with the theme seeming to draw out some very Black Mirror concepts.
“From the acceleration of climate change to the resurgence of nationalist agendas across the globe, from the pervasive impact of social media to the growing disparity of wealth, contemporary matters of concern are addressed in many of the works in this exhibition”, says Rugoff.
“May You Live In Interesting Times” is split across installations in the Arsenale and those located in the Giardini’s Central Pavilion. Though under the same narrative umbrella, the distinct atmosphere of each space accentuates different aspects of each artist’s practice.
In Part 1 of our highlights roundup, we’re focusing on the events and installations that particularly caught our eye out of 79 international participants. Read on for creative inspiration, beautiful works and of course, some downright wacky ideas.
‘Inside A Forest Cloud’ chandelier by Nacho Carbonell.
‘Under A Light Tree’ by Nacho Carbonell.
‘Fragile Future’ chandelier by Studio Drift.
‘Ocean Memories Pieces’ by Mathieu Lehanneur.
‘Ode’ by Vincenzo De Cotiis.
‘Real Time Xl’ clock by Maarten Baas.
‘Moments Of Happiness’ by Verhoeven.
Dysfunctional by Carpenters Workshop Gallery // Over 50 works by 23 artists and designers are exhibited in the Dysfunctional exhibition by Carpenters Workshop Gallery, set amongst the gothic architecture and baroque artwork of Galleria Giorgio Franchetti alla Ca’d’Oro. In a direct reference to the tides that notoriously affect Venetian life and on a more Meta level, rising sea levels the world over, Virgil Abloh presents a series of sinking furniture, ‘acqua alta’. Polished bronze chairs, benches, and a floor lamp tilt as if sinking into the water. Other works include ‘Real Time’ by Maarten Baas, a life-sized self -portrait within a transparent clock face, and Mathieu Lehanneur‘s lagoon inspired green marble and granite sculptures ‘Ocean Memories’.
Blurry Venice by Plastique Fantastique // Berlin-based temporary architecture platform Plastique Fantastique constructed Blurry Venice to quite literally blur the boundaries between land, water, nature and built environments, where neither floor nor ceiling exists. Set at the Venice Pavilion, marble ‘briccole’ sculptures by Fabio Viale support a malleable white plastic tunnel, giving visitors the illusion that they are walking on water.
Venice in Oil by Banksy // Elusive British street artist Banksy set up an unauthorized installation, propping up a montage of gilt-framed oil paintings depicting a massive cruise ship swamping a flurry of surrounding gondolas. The artist released the work via Instagram video, a short sequence showing an anonymous man setting up the work and the reactions of local passersby, before being told to move on by police. The work is potential commentary on the Italian government’s recent ban on cruise ships in Venetian waterways, due to waves causing erosion of the canal banks.
Photography by David M. Benett.
Building Bridges by Lorenzo Quinn // Lorenzo Quinn‘s monumental Building Bridges sculpture reaches across an inlet adjacent to the entrance of the Arsenale. Six pairs of arms 15m high and 20m in length stretch out and clasp hands, each with various strength of grip. Individually titled ‘Help’, ‘Love’, ‘Friendship’, ‘Faith’, ‘Wisdom’ and ‘Hope’, the pairs represent humanity striving for collaboration and unity, and a need for contact beyond self-interest. More broadly, Quinn engages with the history of Venice as a junction of international history and culture.
Photography by Andrea Avezzù.
Barca Nostra by Christoph Büchel // Proving to be the most controversial and provocative work at the 2019 Biennale, Swiss-Icelandic artist Christoph Büchel brought the battered remains of a fishing boat that killed hundreds of migrants in 2015 to the banks of Venice. The rusting vessel is displayed as part of Arsenale, a site where warships were once produced. Titled ‘Barca Nostra’, Büchel views the shipwreck as a politically charged symbol of contemporary migration, as well as an ethical and historical artefact.