ArtAttack’s ‘Best of Biennale’: Giardini

I’d be lying if I said that Venice isn’t always magical — in the rain, snow, steaming summer sun, even when the canal floods and you’re ankle deep in water just trying to get down the road. But Venice during the biennale is another level of magic altogether. It’s as if the entire island turns into one giant exhibition, a festival of creativity, a canvas for art, culture, emotion and politics. This year marks the 56th edition of this world renowned, international, bi-annual art extravaganza and my and ArtAttack‘s first time attending.

The central event, entitled ‘All the World’s Futures‘ and curated by Okwui Enwezor is a splendour to behold, made up both of spaces personally curated by Enwezor and individual country-sponsored pavilions each showcasing a native artist. Between the two main venues of the exhibition, the Giardini and the Arsenale, 136 artists from 53 countries are represented, with 89 of them showing at the biennale for the first time. There are also 44 official collateral events taking place all across the city, and too-many-to-count independent exhibitions on top of that.

Over the next week or so, we’ll be highlighting some of our favourite shows from our Venezia weekend in a ‘Best of Biennale,’ series and today we will begin with a visual overview of the central hub of the event, the Giardini. This venue houses the main ‘All The World’s Futures‘ exhibition as well as a multitude of diverse country pavilions.

As it’s name suggest, the space itself is a huge garden, the various pavilions scattered throughout the neatly trimmed grass and noble trees.

Here are some of works that we found most inspiring:

1) Japan Pavilion // ‘The Key in the Hand‘ // Chiharu Shiota

'The Key in the Hand,' Chiharu Shiota, 2015
‘The Key in the Hand,’ Chiharu Shiota, 2015

To me, this was by far the most magical experience of the entire weekend. Upon entering I felt like I’d crossed over to a new world and I don’t think anyone made it in without a gasp. Sheer beauty is the only way to describe this mystical environment of red fishnets and golden keys. Plus the work is global as well, with the keys having been collected from all across the world.

2) Australia Pavilion // ‘Wrong Way Time’ // Fiona Hall

Australia Pavilion, Fiona Hall, 2015
‘Wrong Way Time,’ Fiona Hall, 2015
Australia Pavilion, Fiona Hall, 2015
‘Wrong Way Time,’ Fiona Hall, 2015

Australia definitely inaugurated their new national pavilion with a bang, thoughtfully confronting the political, financial and environmental issues of our global climate. This show is mind blowing, really immersing a viewer in the haunting experience — a steady, anxious “tick tick tick” always in one’s ear, dark hallways and overbearing clocks (think your Grandfather’s old-school living room clock only possessed by a demon). Exhibition curator Linda Michael describes the pavilion best — “a minefield of madness, badness, and sadness in equal measure.”

3) Venezuela Pavilion // Argelia Bravo & Félix Molina (Flix)

Venezuela Paviolion, Argelia Bravo & Félix Molina (Flix)
Venezuela Paviolion, Argelia Bravo & Félix Molina (Flix)

The photograph on the right is one of the images that has most stayed with me since Venice. In the exhibition, it is accompanied by a video, which shows three masked women sitting in folding chairs, tenderly breastfeeding their babies. I find the juxtaposition of someone wearing a criminal-type mask but caring so lovingly for a child truly powerful.

4) UK Pavilion // ‘I Scream Daddio‘ // Sarah Lucas

'I Scream Daddio,' Sarah Lucas, 2015
‘I Scream Daddio,’ Sarah Lucas, 2015
'I Scream Daddio,' Sarah Lucas, 2015
‘I Scream Daddio,’ Sarah Lucas, 2015

Bright yellow walls immediately lifted my spirits, and the huge phallus upon entry gifted me my first laugh of the day. This pavilion brought a much needed level of joy and fun to the Giardini, along with a welcome smack of signature YBA shock value.

5) ‘All the Worlds Futures‘ // Curated by Okwui Enwezor

'All the World's Futures,' 2015
‘All the World’s Futures,’ 2015
'All the World's Futures,' 2015
‘All the World’s Futures,’ 2015
'All the World's Futures,' 2015
‘All the World’s Futures,’ 2015

Showcasing artists in all mediums from all across the globe, Okwui Enwezor has curated a beautifully diverse exhibition, which despite it’s often polar opposite works somehow ties together into a meaningful and tangible whole. From majestic actual roots of trees, to political video work, painting, sculpture and everything in between, I left this show feeling utterly overwhelmed and completely inspired, which all in all, is a good overview of my entire biennale experience.

– India Irving

Biennale Arte 2015 is on view throughout Venice until 22nd, November 2015.

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