Venice: We know Venice in August might not be on the top of your list, but actually it is not as crowded as in spring and autumn when throngs of tourists are invading this place. So pack your bags and enjoy a stopover for some art, the best Italian food and some strolling around. The 56th Venice Biennial is still showing until the 22nd of November and the lagoon city will be the attractive foil for the oldest art show of the world, which has been curated this year by Okwui Enwezor.
Many remember Okwui Enwezor as the curator of the documenta 11 thirteen years ago, which was concerned with post colonialism, migration, displacement and belonging.
Also this year’s Biennial is political through and through and is guided by the motto: “All the World’s Futures”. It is a very ambitious undertaking. However, Enwezor has taken himself the task to encourage the audience to think about life and the future of planet earth.
In the main exhibition in the central pavilion and the Arsenale, 163 artists from 53 countries get to grips with issues such as social responsibility, the global political crisis and the faults of our times. The entire show swirls around the life reading of Karl Marx’s “Das Kapital” at the Central Pavilion. In his famous book Marx explores the effect of the Industrial Revolution and its reliance on exploitation of workers. Labour and the social gap are recurring theme.
The 89 national pavilions, too, are concerned with global upheavals, the world of total surveillance, artificial pleasures and human rights abuses of every kind.
The award for the best national contribution went to the Armenia. The Pavilion that is located at the Mekhitarist Monastery on the island of San Lazzaro degli Armeni is dedicated to the artists of the Armenian Diaspora. It was largely formed as a result of the Armenian Genocide of 1915, when the Armenians living in their ancestral homeland in eastern Turkey were systematically exterminated by the Ottoman forces.
“In a year that witnesses a significant milestone for the Armenian people, this pavilion marks the resilience of trans-cultural confluence and exchanges,” said the international jury.
The Golden Lion for best artist in the fair went to Adrian Piper. The 66-year-old American conceptual artist who lives in Berlin is known for a body of work in which she questions race, gender and our value system.
You can find her installation work called “The Probable Trust Registry: The Rules of the Game #1-3” on your way to the exit of the Arsenale. The Biennale staff hands out ipads asking you to sign a contract agreeing to live by one or more of three rules: with which you confirm “I will mean everything I say”; “I will do everything I say I will do”; and “I will always be too expensive to buy.” The jury praised her work as an invitation to “engage in a life-long performance of personal responsibility.”
All the World’s Futures has become a project that tells hundreds of different stories from different angles.
It is as complex as the world itself and one might argue: “I have seen the future and I’m not going”
Don’t forget to visit the Museum Fontany. This would be a real pity. This year’s summer-exhibition is a ‚must-see‘ and is called „Proportio“. As the title already implies the show circles around the world of proportions and sacred geometry, which have been so vital to all great cultures. The whole exhibition, which spreads over three floors, is an exploration in the measurement of beauty, harmony and balance that has been taken over to mankind by nature. The works have been carefully selected and the juxtaposition of old and new, contemporary pieces and Old Masters, paintings and sculptures, textiles and objects is breathtaking. As soon as you step into the first gallery space you dive into a different world through which you meander in wonder. Explore the universal proportions and take a breather to enjoy the special atmosphere of the Palace Fontany.