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La Biennale di Venezia

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Introduction by

Adriano Pedrosa

Curator of the 60th International Art Exhibition

Foreigners Everywhere

The title of the 60th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia is drawn from a series of works started in 2004 by the Paris-born and Palermo-based collective Claire Fontaine. The works consist of neon sculptures in different colours that render in a growing number of languages the words “Foreigners Everywhere”. The phrase comes, in turn, from the name of a Turin collective who fought racism and xenophobia in Italy in the early 2000s: Stranieri Ovunque.

The backdrop for the work is a world rife with multiple crises concerning the movement and existence of people across countries, nations, territories and borders, which reflect the perils and pitfalls of language, translation and ethnicity, expressing differences and disparities conditioned by identity, nationality, race, gender, sexuality, wealth, and freedom. In this landscape, the phrase Foreigners Everywhere has (at least) a dual meaning. First of all, that wherever you go and wherever you are you will always encounter foreigners—they/we are everywhere. Secondly, that no matter where you find yourself, you are always, truly, and deep down inside, a foreigner.

Artists have always travelled under the most diverse circumstances, moving through cities, countries and continents, a phenomenon that has only grown since the late 20th century—ironically, a period marked by increasing restrictions on dislocation or displacement of people. The Biennale Arte 2024 will focus on artists who are themselves foreigners, immigrants, expatriates, diasporic, émigrés, exiled, and refugees—especially those who have moved between the Global South and the Global North.

Stranger / estranho / étranger

The figure of the foreigner is associated with the stranger, the straniero, the estranho, the étranger, and thus the exhibition unfolds and focuses on the production of other related subjects: the queer artist, who has moved within different sexualities and genders, often being persecuted or outlawed; the outsider artist, who is located at the margins of the art world, much like the autodidact and the so-called folk artist; as well as the indigenous artist, frequently treated as a foreigner in their own land. The production of these artists is the primary focus of this Biennale, and constitutes the International Exhibition’s Nucleo Contemporaneo, and although their work is often informed by their own lives, experiences, observations and histories, there are also those who delve into formal issues with their own foreign accent. Works by these artists will not be gathered in different sections, but will appear as motifs dispersed through the exhibition.

Global modernisms

The International Exhibition will also feature a Nucleo Storico gathering works from 20th century Latin America, Africa, the Arab world, and Asia. Much has been written about global modernisms and modernisms in the Global South, and a number of rooms will feature works from these territories, much like an essay, a draft, a speculative curatorial exercise that seeks to question the boundaries and definitions of modernism. We are all too familiar with the history of modernism in Euroamerica, yet the modernisms in the Global South remain largely unknown and thus they assume a truly contemporary relevance—we urgently need to learn more about and from them. European modernism itself travelled far beyond Europe throughout the 20th century, often intertwined with colonialism, and many artists in the Global South  travelled to Europe to be exposed to it. Yet modernism was appropriated, devoured and cannibalized in the Global South, repeatedly taking on radically new shapes and forms in dialogue with local and indigenous references. In addition, a special section in the Nucleo Storico will be devoted to the worldwide Italian artistic diaspora in the 20th century: Italian artists who travelled and moved abroad developing their careers in Africa, Asia, Latin America, as well as in the rest of Europe, becoming embedded in local cultures—and who often played significant roles in the development of the narratives of modernism beyond Italy.

The Biennale itself – an international event with numerous official participations by different countries – has always been a platform for the exhibition of works by foreigners from all over the world. Thus, the 60th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, the Biennale Arte 2024, will be a celebration of the foreign, the distant, the outsider, the queer, as well as the indigenous. We hope to welcome you all in Venice in 2024.

Biennale Arte
Biennale Arte