The Venice Biennale is resolutely the most prominent international cultural flaunt – a much-awaited event for art enthusiasts and, more importantly, the apotheosis for non-sense-alleged critics.
Disclosure- please spare us your new LinkedIn’ art critic’ status if you can relate to any of the followings:
You read 4 times the press release from the Biennale committee
You wear a lilac satin Tom Ford suit and stand in front of every art installation reading captions backward
You leafed halfway through ‘MANIFESTO OF SURREALISM’ by ANDRÉ BRETON
The 59th edition of the most anticipated art-world Olympics articulates around “dreams & infinite possibilities” – a tribute to the surrealist artist Leonora Carrington. A vibrant and emotional journey exploring and revisiting the definition of the human being – its correlation to nature and technology. Change is in the air. Artists are pushing boundaries and tackling predominant questions and topics of our society, such as diversity, minorities, social injustices, and women’s roles.
On the doorstep, the nagging begins ‘What do you think?’ and ‘What was the best thing at The Milk of Dreams?’. Hold on, Carlo, I am not even in yet. Pushing through the crowd of tourists, I can’t help but challenge the evident parallelism: is it Black Friday yet? As a true Pavlovian mechanism, the stimulus hits – and minutes later, human bodies can be seen running from left to right, rushing to the nearest Pavilion, hands full of paper leaflets. Time becomes an abstract concept. Remind me again how you got trapped at the Biennale for six days?
Listen, forget what your uncle might have told you. Time is precious. Aperitivo is at 5 pm; therefore, I have listed the 5 not-to-miss national pavilions just for you.
Denmark – Uffe Isolotto
Artist Uffe Isolotto with ‘We Walked the Earth’ immerses us into a hyperrealistic world depicting the Danish rural life. The mysterious scenic reconstruction illustrates transhuman creatures left in limbo who appear to result from a biotechnological experiment. A subtle blend of raw reality and sci-fiction. A reminder of our contemporary society’s struggles and a prism portraying the complexity of our environmental, existential, and political challenges. We are left dumbfounded about our future – Optimistic or rather tragic?
For god’s sake, do not take any selfies with the centaurs.
Korea – Yunchul Kim
At the Korean Pavilion, enigmatic and technologic creatures held in captivity arouse our curiosity from afar. Music composer & visual artist Yunchul Kim set the tone with five interconnected large-scale kinetic sculptures – a portal reflecting on the universe and existence. In partnership with Hyundai Artlab, ‘Gyre’ functions as a vortex, expanding infinitely. Its motto resonates around the poem “The Second Coming” by William Butler Yeats: “Turning and turning in the widening gyre / The falcon cannot hear the falconer.” Our fascination exults face to face with the 50-meter-long Chroma V – a snake-like kinetic installation exploring the interaction and boundaries between matter, objects, and time. Mad love.
Greece – Loukia Alavanou
The VR360 film and installation “Oedipus In search of Colonus” is your dose of reality check. Inside four intimate and hybrid hemispherical domes, spectators are submerged in darkness and temporarily separate from their loved ones. Alleluia, some may say. At ease, on posture chairs, the 15-minute VR film debuts. Filmmaker Loukia Alavanou‘s docufictional film echoes Sophocles’ playwright ‘Oedipus at Colonus’ – a play about political exile and the predicaments linked to personal freedom. Loukia brilliantly juxtaposes Greek’s cultural heritage with the Roma community living in precarious conditions on the outskirts of Greece. The cohesive story inevitably questions our inner selves on the current immigration, and geopolitical issues our society is facing.
USA – Simone Leigh
What can I say- It’s about time. Simone Leigh is the first Afro-American female artist to represent the United States. The Brooklyn-based sculptor is shaking up the Biennale with her large-scale ceramics exploring Black women’s stories and histories. ‘Sovereignty’ monumental art installations are rich in symbolism and depict openly the history of Black women in America and colonialism. Simone Leigh literally pimped out the American pavilion installing a traditional thatched along with wooden columns and placing on the forefront a gigantic bronze figure – a reference to 19th century photograph of a Jamaican laundress at work. Confession to be told, it took me a minute to realize that I was at the American Pavilion since Black artists are still very much underrepresented. Additionally, Simone Leigh was awarded the Golden Lion for her Brick House (located at the entrance of the Arsenale). Bless up.
France – Zined Sedira
French / Algerian artist Zined Sedira proposes for the French Pavilion an immersive cinematographic installation. Interlacing fiction with reality, the artist unveils her roots through an autobiographical narrative and mise en abyme combining documentary, sculpture, photography and sound. ‘In Dreams Have No Titles’, Zined Sedira expresses her love for the golden age of French, Italian and Algerian cinema of the 1960s, 1970s. Her selection of activism cinematographic productions embrace taboos and raise for discussion, dialog and awareness the topics of decolonisation, racism and family.