VENICE – As a recent graduate of Duke’s Art, Art History & Visual Studies Department, I could not imagine a more fitting dream graduation trip than a ticket to The Venice Biennale. Celebrating its 56th year, this International Exposition figures as the proverbial “Olympics of Art.” The event brings together over 136 artists from 53 countries, and engages with 44 satellite events throughout the city. Many countries present their artworks in the nationally delineated pavilions of the Giardini, mapping different aesthetics and ideologies across the globe. Other works are housed in the Arsenale, a collection of restored 16th Century buildings, or are installed in sites around the city.
This year’s show celebrates the 120th Anniversary of the first edition of the Venice Biennale in 1895. Okwui Enwezor, Nigerian curator, art critic and writer, was elected as the show’s Artistic Director to choreograph the interplay of the exhibition’s three thematic subheadings, or “filters:”Garden of Disorder, Liveliness: On Epic Duration, and Reading Capital. President of la Biennale di Venezia Paolo Baratta elaborates on the concepts behind All The World’s Futures:
“The world before us today exhibits deep divisions and wounds, pronounced inequalities and uncertainties as to the future. Despite the great progress made in knowledge and technology, we are currently negotiating an ‘age of anxiety’. And once more, the Biennale observes the relationship between art and the development of the human, social, and political world, as external forces and phenomena loom large over it. Our aim is to investigate how the tensions of the outside world act on the sensitivities and the vital and expressive energies of artists, on their desires and their inner song. One of the reasons the Biennale invited Okwui Enwezor as curator was for his special sensitivity in this regard.”
Venice at any time of year is a coveted destination for travelers, but for the duration of the Biennale—this year from May 9th to November 22nd— the charming canals and historical Venetian architecture are supplemented by the world’s finest in art, dance, theater and cinema. The city seems at once ancient and in vogue, lending a rich backdrop to contemporary art that defines our present, as well as all our world’s futures.
P.S. As an added bonus, I got to take home a souvenir! Argentine artist Rirkrit Tiravanija sold bricks from his installation Untitled (14,086 unfired) for €10 each, with proceeds benefiting ISCOS, a nonprofit that supports workers’ rights in China.