La Biennale di Venezia 2019 – Must See

As summer draws to an end you might find yourself in this awkward moment of anticipation for the soon to commence fall art season. What to do in the meantime, you might ask? Simple: book a spontaneous trip to Venice and its 58th international art exhibition! Besides, Venice is always worth a visit regardless the season.

This years Biennale is hosted under the motto “May You Live In Interesting Times”, curated by Ralph Rugoff, curator and director of the renowned London Hayward Gallery. He chose to only exhibit artworks by living artists. The works of  the 79 artists on show, are in their entirety ambiguous, multivalent and desire to provoke new and different interpretations by each viewer. Whether you roam the grounds of Gardini, Arsenale or one of the numerous city pavilions scattered throughout Venice, you will not be disappointed by the diversity of art that you will be confronted with. Some will be loud, dark and disturbing, while others will serenade you with tranquility, brightness that might blind you (Japanese Pavilion) and invite you to stay and reminisce the seen and encountered.

Below you will find the five ‘must-see’ exhibitions of this year’s Biennale di Venezia!

1. Deep See Blue Surrounding You – Pavilion of France

Curator: Martha Kirszenbaum.
Location: French Pavilion, Gardini.

The female artist Laure Provost has envisioned a water-scape which questions who we are, where we come from and where we are going. Entering this pavilion is like entering a subaltern world – a world which has been flipped upside down revealing numerous realities. One will be confronted with a melting of the human and non-human world and the individual impact each has on the other in from of video, sound and space-consuming installations.

2. Can’t Help Myself by Sun Yuan & Peng Yu

Location: Gardini, Main Pavilion.

Placed into a transparent cage, this robot will constantly sweep a blood-like fluid towards itself. It has been programmed in such a manner as to ensure that the thick liquid always stays close to it. This installation creates an illusion of a captured wild creature to which we, as viewer, bear witness to.
The liquid will continuously flow away from the robot, triggering its sensors so that it will continuously sweep the liquid inwards. This ‘dance’ is mesmerizing and graceful at the same time. You will therefore always find a captivated crowed watching this spectacle.

3. Virtual Reality – Pavilion of Azerbaijan

Curators: Gianni Mercurio & Emin Mannadov
Location: Palazzo Lezze, Campo Santo Stefano, San Marco 2949.

This exhibition marks Azerbaijans fourth participation at the Venice Biennale, and it did not fall short in addressing very contemporary dilemmas/problems. The works on show all exploit the phenomenon of fake news as the greatest threat to democracy, free speech, and continual societal progress. Artworks like the “Slinky Effect” explore the notion of what living in a ‘post-truth’ world entails and how the flow of news via social media has detached us from one another.

Slinky Effect by Kanan Aliyev & Ulivyya Aliyava
Slinky Effect by Kanan Aliyev & Ulivyya Aliyava

4. Sun & Sea (Marina) – Pavilion of Lithuania

Curator: Lucia Pietroiusti.
Location: Magazzino n. 42, Marina Militare, Arsenale di Venezia, Fondamenta Case Nuove 2738/C (near Campo de la Celestia)

Visitors are greeted by the soft sound of waves, before they are confronted with a real-life beach, which draws on individual holiday imaginations. On Wednesday and Saturday actors will lounge on the beach and on all other days the beach scenario is left as is, creating the illusion that the beach-goers will return within a heartbeat. Ordinariness and familiarity are at the core of this exhibition.

5. Dysfunctional – Carpenters Workshop Gallery

Location: Galleria Griorgio Franchetti Alla Ca’ d’Oro

“Dysfunctional” explores the boundaries of art, particularly the useful and useless aspects one could attribute to artworks. This exhibition is not strictly part of the Biennale di Venezia, but on show during the same time. Most of the objects are site specific and beautifully blend into the old palazzo and its permanent medieval and renaissance art collection. Thus the lines between art and design are continuously blurred, evoking the questions: What is an artwork, does it have to be functional and when does design dictate the status of art?