Venice Biennale 2015

May 4, 2015

It’s Biennale di Venezia time again! The 56th International Art Exhibition in Venice, Italy is just days away, as this year’s edition will start a month earlier than usual. One of the most important art events in the world, the show under the name of All the World’s Futures, will be curated by Okwui Enwezor, a curator, critic, editor and writer from Nigeria, and will see 89 national participants and 136 artists and groups showing in the historical Pavilions at the Giardini, Arsenale and the city of Venice. This year, the 56th Venice Biennale also marks 120th anniversary, as the exhibition takes place every two years (in odd years). The biennial will also offer 44 collateral events promoted by non-profit national and international institutions, which will present their exhibitions and initiatives across Venice. Taking part once again is the Holy See, with a show to be held at the Sale d’Armi. The Italian Pavilion will be curated by Vincenzo Trione.

Venice Biennale 2015
Antje Ehmann and Harun Farocki - Labour in a Single Shot, 2013-2015. Still from Nadah el Shazly, Bridge, Cairo, 2012

International Venice Biennale 2015 central international pavilion
The Central Pavillion of the 2015 Venice Biennale, located in Giardini. Image via

International Venice Biennale 2015
Left: Marlene Dumas - Justice, 1992, Courtesy Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp. Photo Felix Tirry / Right: Oscar Murillo - I don't work Sundays, 2014

All the World’s Futures

The central focus of All the World’s Futures is set on an extensive body of new works commissioned especially for the occasion of the 56th Venice Biennale, and it represents an unprecedented range of never-before-exhibited art projects. The exhibition will explore the uncertain future of the world today, as well as the relationship between art and the human, social and political factors - how these elements influence artist into creating inspired and sensitive works of art. A number of 136 artists coming from 53 countries will tackle these topics - 89 of them will be presented at the Venice Biennale for the first time. Participating for the very first time will be Grenada, Mauritius, Mongolia, Republic of Mozambique and Republic of Seychelles, while making their comebacks to the pavilion will be Ecuador, the Philippines and Guatemala. From almost every corner of the Earth, the participants will once again unite whole humanity in the wonderful form of creating, with 159 brand new works to be shown at All the World’s Futures.

Venice Biennale 2015
Ayoung Kim - Zepheth, whale oil from the Hanging Gardens to you, Shell, 2014. Four channel sound installation. Courtesy of the Artist

Venice Biennale 2015
Left: Inji Effaltoun - Popular Resistance / Right: Madhusudhanan - Penal Colony, 2015. Series of 70 charcoal drawings on paper Courtesy of the Artist

The Arena

The Arena represents an active space and a forum dedicated to the spoken word and public discussions. Designed by award-winning Ghanaian/British architect David Adjaye, the Arena will be dedicated to continuous live programming across various disciplines and will be located within the Central Pavilion in the Giardini. The highlight will certainly be the live reading of all three volumes of Karl Marx’s Das Kapital, during all seven months of the exhibition. The reading will be performed by trained actors, directed by artist and filmmaker Isaac Julien. Apart from this, the Arena will also celebrate the song, recitals, films and performances, which have been commissioned and based on the concept of Liveness: On Epic Duration. Performing in the Arena will be Olaf Nicolai, Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, Abdullah Farah, Jason Moran, Jeremy Deller, Charles Gaines, Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc, The TOMORROW, Mounira Al Solh, Lili Reynaud-Dewar, Saadane Afif, Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla and Theaster Gates.

Venice Biennale 2015
Sketch by Kara Walker for Norma, special Project la Biennale di Venezia – Teatro La Fenice. Stage direction, scenes and costumes by Kara Walker

Special Presentations

Next to the commissioned works, at the 56th International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale will as be a selection of works by both living and deceased artists that have left a mark on art history. Thought as small anthologies, they include text-based neon sculptures by Bruce Nauman, from 1972 to the early 1980s, works by Walker Evans, works by Sergei Eisenstein and installations by Isa Genzken, paintings by Marlene Dumas and Georg Baselitz. Presenting their project will be The Invisible Borders Trans-African Project, a Nigerian collective of artists focusing on 21st century Africa, titled a Trans-African Worldspace, and Abounaddara, an anonymous collective of filmmakers from Syria working on impromptu documentaries.

Venice Biennale 2015
Left: Bruce Nauman - Human Nature / Life Death / Knows Doesn't Know, 1983 - Courtesy of Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Modern and Contemporary Art Council Fund / Right: Hans Haacke - Gallery-Goers' Birthplace and Residence Profile, Part 1, 1969

Special Project

This year’s special project involves the American artist Kara Walker, who was commissioned to create the staging, set and costume design for the new production of the opera titled Norma. The project, which is a collaboration between the Venice Biennale and La Fenice Opera house, comes after the successful 2013 Madame Butterfly reinterpretation, in which Japanese artist Mariko Mori participated together with Alex Rigola. For Norma, Gaetano d’Espinosa will conduct the Orchestra and Chorus of the Teatro La Fenice. The project will premiere on May 20th, followed by performances on the 24th, the 27th and the 30th, continuing on June 3rd and 6th.

Venice Biennale 2015
Emily Kame Kngwarreye - Earth’s Creation, 1994. Synthetic polymer paint on linen, 4 panels, each 275 x 160 cm. Courtesy of Mbantua Gallery; Cultural Museum. Photo Mbantua Gallery

Kate MccGwire and Glasstress 2015 Gotika

Joining the 56th Venice Biennale and the prestigious Glasstress 2015 Gotika project will be British sculptor Kate MccGwire, who has created a glass piece entitled SIREN. Created in collaboration with the Berengo Glass studio, the artwork represents a large-scale floor installation made of Berengo black glass and crow feathers. Combining the symbolism of crows as bad omen with the notions of Gothic and Medieval tradition, Kate MccGwire continues her marvelous way of creating, which often means the use of vintage protective glass domes and glass-fronted wooden cabinets. It is fair to say that the artist was the obvious choice for both Berengo Studios and the Glasstress 2015 Gotika, as the former continues to bring renowned visual artists to Venice to collaborate with Murano’s historic glass artisans, and the latter gathers over 50 artists from over 20 countries who work with glass. The show will be exhibited from May 9th at the historic Palazzo Franchetti on the Grand Canal and in an old glass furnace on Murano, home of the permanent exhibition space of the Fondazione Berengo.

Venice Biennale 2015
Kate MccGwire - SIREN, 2015, Venice Biennale 2015

56th Biennale di Venezia - Practical Information

The Venice Biennale 2015 will be held from May 9th until November 22nd, 2015 at Central Pavilion and 29 other pavilions at Giardini.. The preview will be held on May 6th, 7th and 8th, while the awards ceremony and the inauguration will take place on May 9th. Regular and Special tickets are available for purchase, including daily and permanent passes, as well as discounts for school children, students, families and groups. For more information visit the 56th Venice Biennale official website.

We invite you to stay tuned, as we will follow the exhibition at Venice Biennale throughout its duration with latest news and developments!

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Featured images in slider:
Barthelemy Toguo - The New World Climax, 2000–2014. Installation with wooden stamps, tables, ink prints on paper. Courtesy of Stevenson, Cape Town and Johannesburg; Bandjoun Station Cameroun. Photo Mario Todeschini
Chantal Akerman - NOW, 2015. Video stills, 8 channel HD video installation, surround sound, color, looped. Courtesy of the Artist and Marian Goodman Gallery. Photo Chantal Akerman
Qiu Zhijie - JINLING Chronicle Theater Project, 2014. Exhibition view at the Red Brick Contemporary Art Museum, Beijing
Teresa Burga - Fuerzas Operacionales (FOES), 2012. Courtesy of the Artist; Galerie Barbara Thumm, Berlin
All images courtesy of Venice Biennale 2015, La Biennale di Venezia 2015.

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