“Art is the last bastion, a garden to cultivate above and beyond trends and personal interests. It stands as an unequivocal alternative to individualism and indifference.”

With these words Christine Macel kicks off the 57th International Art Exhibition at La Biennale in Venice, running from May 13 to November 26. The exhibition spreads in several areas of Venice, but the positive energy that surrounds the Giardini della Biennale (gardens) is difficult to find somewhere else. Maybe it’s due to the fact that it is the only city green lung, or perhaps it’s because it feels like stepping into a surreal world. Anyway: if you love art you have to come and visit Venice every two years.

… No better excuse to spend three days in Venice!

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La Biennale d’Arte di Venezia is the cornerstone of the artistic avant-garde of the last 120 years. As well as being an interesting stage for worldwide perspectives on contemporary issues, that are renewed in each edition, it’s a must-see event for passionate, curious, students, families and tourists.

This year the central theme that brings together all the artists is humanism: artists are the subject of the works and the exhibitions. Paolo Baratta, president of La Biennale di Venezia, explains with these words the centrality and the celebration of the existence itself of contemporary art, and the importance of the research and the discussion in this field:

“La Biennale must present itself as a place whose method—and almost raison d’être—is dedicated to an open dialogue between artists, and between artists and the public.”

Therefore, art assumes its most “useful” role, acting as a way of escape and keystone with respect to the small and great difficulties that every human being is forced to live with, and the Exhibition has focused on those who make this evasion possible and liberating for anyone.

Indeed, an event such as the Biennale has always demonstrated the importance of interactivity and dialogue, not only thanks to live meetings with artists -often made during the opening days- but also thanks to the many collateral events during the whole summer season in Venice.

For those who have never been here, here are some practical informations to explain how it is structured to approach contemporary art in an even more constant and passionate way. The countries pavilions and the exhibition spaces are located both at the Giardini della Biennale and the Arsenale, the old shipyard for the construction of the Venetian ships. Besides, many other pavilions are distributed all around Venice in beautiful old palaces. Throughout the exhibition period, the city is also an open air stage for special events, contemporary art exhibitions at foundations and civic museums, parallel projects, meetings, performances and roundtables with artists.

 

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To avoid spoiling the surprise of discovering the most beautiful pavilions with a lot of curiosity and a bit of perdition, we only talk about three of them, according to us the most striking.

Pavilion of Russia

The Russian pavilion has consolidated a great tradition of exhibitions over the years. This year the exhibition curated by Semyon Mikhailovsky takes the title of Theatrum Orbis and it has also the aspect of a drama scene. The exhibition is “theatrical” not only from a purely aesthetic point of view, but also from a methodology point of view, where sculpture, video, lights and sound are linked one with each other.

The artists involved are Grisha Bruskin, Recycle Group (Andrej Blokhin e Georgij Kuznetsov) and Sasha Pirogova. The first installation takes us in a world full of small white plaster statues that recall mythological figures, soldiers, monuments around the world. It’s easy losing our sense of orientation, thanks to the echoing and intimidating sounds that blur in the entire room.

Going down to the lower hall, you’ll find an interactive sculptural installation by Recycle Group. Blocked Content is perhaps the most contemporary installation. Thanks to a reflexion about issues related to the controversies of the web world and our privacy, artists highlight everyday topics especially for the Western world. In order to appreciate it, you will need to ask one of the assistants to give you the tablet or download the app.

The video installation Garden by Sasha Pirogova and a sound installation by contemporary composer Dmitri Kourliands complete the Russian pavilion.

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Austrian Pavilion

The Austrian pavilion was designed by two well-known international artists: Erwin Wurm and Brigitte Kowanz.

Going through the funny and involving exhibition by Wurm, you’ll get to Kowanz’s neons: she has always worked with electric systems and light structures, extending the concept of sculpture to immateriality. In fact, the effect of light and shadow, visible and unseen, full and empty, creates a kind of fraction between the pavilions. A complete immersion into the installation is granted.

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Korean Pavilion

 

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 – pictures by Ambra Cretì and Margherita Visentini