Experiencing the Venice Biennale International Art Exhibition just once in a lifetime should be at the top of everyone’s bucket-list, and after three days of walking, talking, interacting, engaging, viewing and being exposed to cutting edge art, I’d say – this is by far the most inspiring event of its kind.
Set up in 1895 as a bi-annual ‘artgasm’, the Biennale turns one of the most romantic cities on the planet in to an art lover’s paradise.
“All The World’s Futures” the 2015 theme, takes the event into new territory by challenging artists to apply a constellation of parameters that circumscribe multiple ideas, making it a visual, somatic, aural, and narrative event.
The World Heritage City plays host to 89 participating countries, each exhibiting at the historical Giardini and Arsenale Pavilions, as well as across the entire city. Even the Holy See (Vatican) exhibits at the 7-month long event.
It’s hard to distinguish what has the most impact, and there’s so much to choose from; art, history, architecture, or the whole package, but the scale is breathtaking.
We were in Venice on a short city break, and hoped to see all the main attractions in three days. Our first port of call was the Arsenale, a gargantuan pavilion where five hours disappeared in the blink of an eye, and we were ushered out at closing time.
At this point, art fatigue had already set in, but there was one last surprise, in fact it was the most epic installation of the event – situated at the very exit – Ibrahim Mahama’s “Untitled”, a jute sack wall that extended into infinity, bowled us all over. The sheer scale of the piece alone is humbling.
A lot of the art questioned “The State Of Things”, one of the key areas curator Okwui Enwezor asked the artists to explore, and Pamela Rosenkranz (Switzerland) answered the brief with “Our Product”, an immersive installation that combined light, colour, scent, sound and organic components such as hormones and even bacteria.
The main piece being a huge pool filled with skin-tone colored liquid, that included a concoction of substances such asbionin, evian, necrion, neotene, silicone, Viagra, and much more. The piece questions our continuous acceptance of the esoteric promises with which some of these products are imbued, as opposed to the material substances that make them up.
Away from the main arena’s, pieces like “Never Say Goodbye” by Wu Tien-chang (Taiwan), use a mesmerizing and immersive mix of video, music, and holograms, to explore the meaning of ‘parting’ with loved ones in life and inevitably death.
Other ‘Must See’ exhibits include “Key in hand’ by Chiharu Shiota (Japan), “Wrong Way Time” by Fiona Hall (Australia), Xu De Qi / Ma Yuan at the The Friendship Project, (San Marino Pavilion), “Voyage Trokomod” (Indonesia Pavilion), Karo Akpokiere (Nigeria / Arsenale), Pixels of Ubuntu (Zimbabwe Pavilion), and the Russian Pavilion.
All this sounds super exciting, but please take comfortable walking shoes with you, there is almost no public transport in Venice. On the other hand if you do suffer the inevitable art-fatigue, try a romantic cruise on a Gondola and sidestep the crowds. We on the other hand, enjoyed walking along the canals, which is the best way to experience such an amazing spectacle.