The world-renowned International Art Exhibition in Venice continues its legendary legacy with a 59th edition this year. It was established in 1885 to spotlight Italian art, but has since expanded to embrace an international scope that has grown to include pavilions by 79 nations. Spread over the Giardini and the Arsenale, as well as in palazzos, satellite exhibitions, installations and events throughout Venice, the Biennale is a true art take-over of Italy's beloved lagoon city.
This edition of the Biennale is ground-breaking in many ways. Curator Cecilia Alemani is the first woman to take the reins of the Biennale. Her mission “to give voice to artists to create unique projects that reflect their visions and our society” has led the Biennale to unfold with a majority of female artists and gender non-conforming artists. Simone Leigh at the United States pavilion and Sonia Boyce OBE at the Great Britain pavilion are just two of the major names that represent the sea-change in the art world's perspective today. But work by Ruth Asawa, Carol Rama and Barbara Kruger (and many, many others) in diverse pavilions fill in further the missing female voices this Biennale's edition is aiming to foreground. Choosing as the title The Milk Of Dreams, Alemani organized the Biennale along three themes: the representation of bodies and their metamorphoses, the relationship between individuals and technologies and the connection between bodies and the Earth.
From the time capsules of the Giardini, the Central Pavilion, the Arsenale and the labyrinthine streets of Venice, there's much to be discovered on the Biennale grounds this year. But the city looms – we also have our eye on the collateral events and museum exhibitions that vie for attention. Don't miss Marlene Dumas: Open-end at Palazzo Grassi, a long-awaited Anselm Kiefer exhibition at Palazzo Ducale, and Anish Kapoor at Gallerie dell’Accademia di Venezia. We also gravitate towards the collaborative exhibition at Fondazione Querini Stampalia with White Cube, where the artist Danh Vo will present an exhibition in the historical palace that places his practice in dialogue with works by Park Seo-Bo and Isamu Noguchi; Bosco Sodi's raw takeover at Palazzo Vendramin Grimani, Claire Tabouret's survey exhibition at Palazzo Cavanis and Stanley Whitney's Italian Paintings at Palazzo Tiepolo Passi. The Cultivist has a handful of art encounters planned during the Biennale: an exclusive member's lunch to celebrate female artists, a breakfast and private visit of the Mary Weatherford and George Baselitz exhibitions at Museo di Palazzo Grimani, a Q&A and performance with Oliver Beer at the Conservatorio di Musica Benedetto Marcello di Venezia and an opening cocktail of the Bosco Sodi exhibition at Palazzo Vendramin Grimani.
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Image: Central Pavilion by Andrea Avezzu. Courtesy of La Biennale di Venezia