It was a privilege to visit the 54th edition of the Art Olympics, aka the Venice Bienniale. This year's show was curated by Ralph Rugoff who did a stunning job at presenting the show titled "May We Live in Interesting Times." It is said that the show is so large that you can’t possibly expect to see the whole thing in a weekend, and It’s true I tried. This show was divided into three sections; the Giardini, the Arsenal and spots activated in the City. The Giardini was host to the pavilions where you can see shows by country, while in the Arsenal you moved throw rooms showcasing the world's top artist. The cool thing about the sections is that you’ll find the same 79 artist displayed in the Arsenal as you do in the Giardini and the City pavilions.
Alright let’s get to it.
As a Latin American Female Artist hailing from the city of Miami, there were a few things on my itinerary:
1. Female Artist.
2. Latin Artist.
3. Miami Based /American Artist.
The video above is a neon installation titled "Robert" by artist Tavares Strachan-
I was excited with my scavenger hunt but what I found was more.
I began my journey through the Arsenal. Immediately moved by the works of Kenyan artist Michael Armitage who paints narratives of social issues and east African mythology as well as South African photographer and visual activist Zanele Muholi’s bold black & white self portraits which headlined the main exhibition shown on untreated raw wood panel.
Self portraits of Trans artist Martine Gutierrez cuddled up close to mannequins kept us company as we strolled through the next exhibition room where the mood changed. The audience moved slowly towards thoughts of what freedom and mortality really mean when visiting the installation room of artist Shilpa Gupta
The next installation space took my heart. Mexican artist Teresa Margoles who used her voice to speak for the lost. In her installation she placed a fence in the middle of the room with missing posters taped asking if you'd seen these girls. The large metal fence clanked and shook, almost as if some one was trapped trying to escape. The installation was so moving and felt so real I couldn't take a picture. To give you a feel for her work I added an image of Teresa's installation for the Giardini. The image is of a concrete wall dividing the gallery space so you can get a feel for that exhibition I left un-photographed.
Below some Images from the Arsenal
The next day I set my heart on meeting the Giardini. It was a rainy day which put a damper on things but I managed to catch a few very cool shows. My day started strong at the European Cultural Center. There I saw this really intense video from the series titled "Chain" of artist Daniel Pešta shown below.
I was delighted to find a familiar artist on display. A room dedicated to Miami native Purvis Young. The room was filled from wall to ceiling with his work and included a private viewing room where you can watch a video of Overtown in the 1970's. If you are a local and don't know much about Purvis Young you can check him out at the ICA until October 2019
At the Main exhibition hall in the Giardini you are greeted by a different scene, the mood is lighter and maybe with a dash of quirk. Humor was in there air as we shook off the existential dread and rain. Upon arrival you‘ll find a sign letting you know that "Everything is okay" by artist Antoine Catala . At a near by pavilion you can visit the Field Hospital X (FHX) by the Israeli artist and professor Aya Ben-Ron where you move through a series of examinations and ultimately get to hear someone's story. "At Hospital X anyone can live free."
Check out more images below from the Giardini
A quirky robotic arm performs it's task with grace. In this piece titled "Can’t Help Myself " by artist team Sun Yuan & Peng Yu Bring. Scrapping away what appears to be blood in almost a dance (video here)
I missed a few pavilions and regret not catching Brazil, Cuba and the award winning Lithuanian pavilion (which was full both times I tried to visit.) I hope to catch these exhibits before the end of the show on 11/24/19 or see whats new in the next Bienniale where I hope to see the Venezuelan Pavilion open to the public.
I found that I don't need a list or scavenger hunt or bullet points to divide us. I found a glimpse of the human race as a whole. As the German pavilion stated so boldly as their show title and in the inner seam of their 5 euro tote bags “Surviving the Ruinous Ruin." These 79 artist show us the remorseful, quirky, smart, silly, strong, delicate, intelligent beings that we are. Most importantly they show us that we all have something very important to say That we are living in these interesting times together.