It is possible to visit or go back to the visit to the Biennale Arte di Venezia 2019 until November 24th (every day except Mondays). In the first five of the opening of this fifty-eighth edition, there have been numerous insights that the press and critics have turned to the choices of the New York curator Ralph Rugoff and about the more or less complexity of the proposals.
With 89 exhibition pavilions, this year the exhibition was divided into two parallel units, the Proposal A of the Arsenal and Proposal B of the Giardini (Gardens) with 79 artists exposing this year, leads to thinking about two different exhibition contexts. Two paths in dialogue that lead to an interesting exercise of formal connections and relationships.
The involvement from the public is revealed in the texts of President Baratta and Rugoff, as explained in the catalog: “[…] The works are collaborative transactions. The artist sets the initial parameters of this process, but it is the reactions and associative interpretations of the viewer that make it continue its development. […] The meanings that are born are rooted not so much in objects as in conversations. What matters most in an exhibition is not what is exposed, but how we can then use the experience to look at everyday reality. ”
And so it was for me. My impression was that the theme of this year Biennale was Climate change. It was evident from the smoke coming pout of the very first Pavillion, or from the acclaimed French Pavillion, by many defined as one of the top 10.
France has an extraordinary total work by Laure Prouvost. An exhibition that is also unique—someone meets you at the entrance and invites you to enter from the back door, literally in the back of the Pavillion! Their exhibition mixes all languages, from painting to sculpture, from video-art to performance, without smudging and also aiming to excite the visitor with an installation that recreates a fake sea in which fish of all kinds among debris and waste produced by consumerism. Prepare yourself for long queues to enter.
The Nordic countries intervene instead on the subject of climate change, with a typical poetic of the Scandinavian countries (and, to be honest, a little Ikea style and not particularly original, but nevertheless effective). Works abound with works created with recycled materials, space for the mingling of performances and artisanal practices, installations that reason about the way in which man transforms the world, to the self-sufficient ecosystems of the collective. However the proposal of the Nordic countries, although similar to many other productions, requires a minimum of reasoning and empathy.
The United States presents itself at the Venice Biennale with a solo exhibition by Martin Puryear on the theme of freedom, tackled from different points of view: the search for freedom, the conquest of freedom, the denial of freedom, the paradoxes of freedom. The installation Swallowed Sun, which literally encloses the Palladian pavilion of the USA, is particularly effective.
The Russian pavilion is a great tribute to Rembrandt and his Return of the Prodigal Son is divided into two parts. In the first part, details of Rembrandt’s work are evoked by Sokurov’s intervention, which places the work of the great Dutch painter in the current world to emphasize the continuity between past and present. In the second part (one floor down), Alexander Shishkin-Hokusai recreates a kind of funfair, a circus to visit in a sort of collective ritual. It should be noted that the curator is the director of the Hermitage: at the entrance, it is emphasized that visitors hoping to find classical works in the Russian pavilion will be disappointed.
My pictures are not necessarily for the best Pavillions, just what caught my eye regardless of my ‘assigned’ artistic validity of the exposition.
Some art was disturbing, or, in my view, a little violent. Although, they may be sometimes necessary.
Foto: opera by Sun Yuan & Peng Yu. I can’t help myself.