The 58th International Art Exhibition is titled May You Live In Interesting Times. It’s named after a phrase that has been invoked in speeches by Western politicians for over a hundred years as an ‘ancient Chinese curse’, even though such a curse never actually existed. Curator Ralph Rugoff describes this ‘counterfeit curse’ as an ‘uncertain artefact... at once suspect and rich in meaning’, noting that it suggests ‘potential lines of exploration that are worth pursuing at present, especially when the “interesting times” it evokes seem to be with us once again.’
The official catalogue
The official Catalogue of the Biennale Arte 2019 May You Live In Interesting Times consists of two volumes:
Volume I of the catalogue is dedicated to the International Exhibition, curated by Ralph Rugoff, and begins with an essay setting out the themes of the show. The 79 artists participating in the exhibition are each introduced in illustrated texts written by a distinguished team of international writers. Two expansive sequences of full-page colour plates of works that will be displayed in the exhibition venues allow the reader to experience the show’s vibrant mix of paintings, drawings, sculpture and immersive installations.
Volume II of the catalogue presents the National Participations and the Collateral Events of the 58th International Art Exhibition; lavishly illustrated, it includes texts that explore the various projects that will be on display in Venice from 11 May to 24 November 2019.
The short guide is designed to lead visitors through the exhibition spaces of the Arsenale and the Giardini, and point them to other projects situated throughout the city of Venice during the 58th International Art Exhibition curated by Ralph Rugoff, whose introduction explores the themes of the show.
Both a practical guide and a souvenir volume, the book introduces the readers to the work of the 79 artists in the International Exhibition, the National Participations of the 58th International Art Exhibition and the Collateral Events taking place across the city between 11 May and 24 November 2019.