120 YEARS OF BIENNALE ARTE
The 56th International Art Exhibition of la Biennale di Venezia will open on May 9th, a month earlier than recent editions. With its inauguration, we celebrate the 120th anniversary of the first Exhibition (1895).
The curator’s International Exhibition will expand from the Central Pavilion at the Giardini (3,000 sq.m.) to the Arsenale (8,000 sq.m.) and, in addition, to external areas.
The extensive array of foreign participant countries (89, compared to 58 in 1997) will virtually gather around our curator’s great International Exhibition; 29 of them will be in the historic pavilions in the Giardini, 29 in the spaces dedicated to the various national participations within the Arsenale (where restoration work continues on 16th century buildings) and the rest in other buildings in Venice, accompanied by 44 Collateral Events, presented by non-profit organisations and admitted by our curator.
The press dossier provides further useful information, and also includes our warm thanks to a variety of public bodies, our partner Swatch, sponsors, and the many people who will have so enthusiastically and with such dedication worked towards the realisation of the exhibition and its operation in the six and a half months to November 22, 2015. In particular, our thanks go to Okwui, to his assistants, and all the professional figures within the Biennale.
Having expressed my thanks, I would also like to briefly introduce the Exhibition from my privileged vantage point within the Biennale.
This is our 56th edition. The Biennale is now 120 years old, and year after year it moves forward and builds on its own history, which is formed of many memories but, in particular, a long succession of different perspectives from which to observe the phenomenon of contemporary artistic creation.
Let us cite just two examples:
Bice Curiger brought us the theme of perception, of ILLUMInation or light as an autonomous and revitalizing element, together with the notion of the relationship between artist and viewer: focusing on an artistic concept that emphasizes intuitive knowledge and enlightened thinking, as a means to hone and develop our perceptual capacity and consequently our ability to dialogue with art.
Massimiliano Gioni was interested in observing the phenomenon of artistic creation from within, and turned his attention to the inner impulses that drive mankind and the artist to create images and bring representations to life; works that are necessary to the artist and to create a dialogue with others. He investigated the utopias and anxieties that lead mankind to the inescapable need to create. The Exhibition opened with a utopian Encyclopedic Palace and Jung’s Red Book.
The world before us today exhibits deep divisions and wounds, pronounced inequalities and uncertainties as to the future. Despite the great progress made in knowledge and technology, we are currently negotiating an “age of anxiety”. And once more, the Biennale observes the relationship between art and the development of the human, social, and political world, as external forces and phenomena loom large over it.
Our aim is to investigate how the tensions of the outside world act on the sensitivities and the vital and expressive energies of artists, on their desires and their inner song. One of the reasons the Biennale invited Okwui Enwezor as curator was for his special sensitivity in this regard.
Curiger, Gioni, Enwezor, a trilogy in a sense: three chapters in a research process engaged by la Biennale di Venezia to explore the benchmarks that can help us formulate aesthetic judgments on contemporary art, a “critical” question following the demise of the avant-gardes and “non-art”.