Venice Biennale 2019 – 58* Biennale of art
Today’s post is about Venice and in particular about the 2019 Biennale of Art. I was there last weekend during the opening and it was wonderful. So I had to share it with you!
The Art Biennale takes place every two years and is open from May to November. Venice is filled with works of art, sculptures, installations, artists, but above all with exhibitions and activities.
My experience at the Venice Biennale 2019
I arrived from London early in the morning. And from the main airport in Venice, it was really easy to get to the city centre with a bus that takes about half an hour.
Once you arrive in the city, you are captured by the many colours and you don’t really know where to look first. Venice is wonderful and getting lost in the streets makes walking just like a game.
If you don’t want to get on and off bridges and stairways you can always take the vaporetto. I rarely take it because I love getting lost in the alleys, where the directions for the main places like San Marco or Rialto are not lacking anyway.
During the Biennale, there are so many things to see, so I’ll explain a little about what it is and how it’s organized. This is an exhibition that takes place in different parts of the city. And its main places are the Arsenale and Giardini. Each nation participates by proposing a personal or collective exhibition of one or more representative artists within its own exhibition space. And this “national” exhibition is always linked to the main theme of the Biennale.
This year, for example, the theme of the Biennale is “May you live in interesting times“. A statement that is often used with sarcasm but can have a double meaning. On one hand, interesting times means times of peace and homologation, therefore static. And on the other hand complex moments of development and challenge.
Each artist for each nation has given their own interpretation of the theme and this is what makes the Biennale a place where different cultures and points of view can meet.
Venice Biennale 2019 – the Arsenale
To visit the Arsenale and Gardens you pay a standard entry ticket of 25 euros with reductions based on age or profession.
My favourite area has always been the Arsenale, so I always start there. And this year I can confirm that I enjoyed it very much!! The visit begins with a general exhibition of the curator of the Biennale Ralph Ruggof.
His choice of artists may seem complex but in reality, it was based on the desire to show how objects can be seen from different perspectives. So the artists in the show propose alternatives of meaning or purpose to objects and situations. It stimulates reasoning and underlines the social function of art as a tool for critical thinking in relation to the world around us.
After the collective exhibition, the visit of the national pavilions begins. In Arsenale, there are about 25 of them, including some of my favourites: Turkey characterized by video art and interaction with forgotten objects. Italy with a maze where you can find artworks and sounds in which we lose ourselves in search of a personal and free journey. And Saudi Arabia with a wonderful installation of land art.
I will talk about some of them in an upcoming post and video on my 3 favourite pavilions of the entire Biennale.
Venice Biennale 2019 – the Giardini
With the same ticket, you can also visit the Gardini on the same day or at any other time. It’s organized in a similar way. There is, in fact, the central pavilion with a collective exhibition of the same artists of the Arsenale but with a completely different layout.
After visiting the main area, wandering among the national pavilions in the gardens is relaxing and exciting at the same time. Especially on sunny days. In here there are about thirty countries as well, each with its own space. It almost seems as if we are always entering and exiting the borders of a world of different cultures. This is what I love most about the Biennale, it opens the eyes on how art and society influence each other. You travel around the world of art by visiting just one city, Venice.
Here at the Giardini some pavilions have interested me more than others. For me, a must to visit is the United Kingdom Pavillion. The temporary exhibition is dedicated to Cathy Wilkes who works on the relationship between her as a person and the objects and space that surrounds her. In total there are six rooms with installations and sculptures.
Another unmissable pavilion is the Belgian one, together with the Israel one which consists of a fake clinic in which you take a ticket, wait for your turn with “patience” and then you upstairs to vent anger, frustration or any other emotion through an action-performance in which the protagonists become the visitors.
Just like in the Arsenale, I spent a whole day in the Giardini so if you are planning to visit the Biennale I suggest you take at least a couple of days and bring some snacks with you.
Pavillions around the city
Outside these two locations, there are also several pavilions scattered throughout the city that can be visited free of charge. If you are looking for interesting artworks, I suggest you take a walk around the Ponte dell’Accademia area. The pavilions of Portugal, Bulgaria, Iraq, Montenegro and Malesya are all nearby. What I liked most of all was the Portugal one at Palazzo Giustinian. Here are exhibited the works of Leonor Antunes who transformed everyday objects into works of abstract sculpture that fill the halls of the building.
In the same area, I suggest you visit the exhibition THE SPARK IS YOU at the Conservatory with works by Persian and Iranian artists and with artworks related not only to the theme of the Biennale but also to the relationship between word and artwork.
This is just one of the many temporary exhibitions that have been organized during the period of the Biennale by all the museums and institutions of the city. For me, it was impossible to visit all of them in a single weekend.
Let me know in the comments if you’ve already been there and enjoyed it or if you’re planning to go!
Venice Biennale of Art 2019
“May You Live In Interesting Times” from the 11/05/2019 to the 24/11/2019
Giardini and Arsenale: 10 am to 6 pm. Closed on Monday.
» Official website of the 58th Biennale of art in Venice: https://www.labiennale.org/en/art/2019
» Info tickets: https://www.labiennale.org/en/art/2019/information
» Info opening hours and venues: https://www.labiennale.org/en/art/2019/information
Temporary exhibitions and museums:
» The spark is you: https://parasol-unit.org/whats-on/the-spark-is-you-parasol-unit-in-venice/
» La Pelle – Luc Tuymans at Palazzo Grassi:
» Jannis Kounellis at the Fondazione Prada: http://www.fondazioneprada.org/project/jannis-kounellis/?lang=en
» Peggy Guggenheim collection: http://www.guggenheim-venice.it/inglese/default.html
» Gallerie dell’Accademia: http://www.gallerieaccademia.it/en