Article by Nora Kovacs in Berlin // Sunday, Apr. 26, 2015
The countdown for the Venice Biennale has begun yet again, with the 56th International Art Exhibition kicking off on May 9th this year and running until November 22nd. This year’s main exhibition, curated by Nigerian art critic and historian Okwui Enwezor and chaired by Paolo Baratta, is titled All the World’s Futures. Eighty-nine National Participants – of which Grenada, Mauritius, Mongolia, Republic of Mozambique, and Republic of Seychelles are exhibiting for the very first time – will also showcase each of their chosen artists at the historical Pavilions at the Giardini, at the Arsenale, and also at various other locations throughout the city of Venice.
Okwui Enwezor released a compelling statement about the upcoming Biennale and the themes and questions that it hopes to address. The name All the World’s Futures correlates to Walter Benjamin‘s Theses on the Philosophy of History, in which the philosopher discusses Paul Klee‘s Angelus Novelus, the “angel of history” who exists in a perpetual state of looking back at the wreckage of the past and is simultaneously propelled into the future by the ‘wind of progress’. With its 120-year history as one of the most renowned showcases for international artistic innovation, the Venice Biennale has adopted this image of the “angel of history”, inviting artists to use art a sort of “filter” through which to view the world, to explore the relationship between the social, political, and economic “state of things” and the corresponding “appearance of things” through art, media, and the public.
The U.S. Pavilion will feature They Come to Us Without a Word, a series of multimedia works created by New York-based artist Joan Jonas. An influential female figure of the performance art movement of the 1960s, Jonas encompasses an array of media and themes in her artwork, including video, performance, installation, sound, text and drawing. She often takes inspiration from literature and They Come to Us Without a Word will explore notions of the spirituality of nature as found in Icelandic Nobel Prize winner Halldór Laxness‘s literary works.
Sarah Lucas will represent the British Pavilion with her bold and humorous work. Lucas calls sexuality and social conventions into question with her ready-made objects and phallic sculptural pieces. Filip Markiewicz, the designated artist for the Luxembourg Pavilion, has designed a tongue-in-cheek piece, titled Paradiso Lussemburgo, in which he subverts our notions of Luxembourg as a financial “paradise”.
This year’s German Pavilion, titled Fabrik, will be located at the Giardini and will incorporate the works of Jasmina Metwaly / Philip Rizk, Olaf Nicolai, Hito Steyerl, and Tobias Zielony. The Pavilion will focus on notions of “work”, “migration”, and “revolt”, with the artists transforming the space into a factory, of sorts, a “vanished, virtual factory of the imagination, a factory for political narratives and for analysing our visual culture”. Nicolai will stage use the roof of the space to stage a 7-month-long action piece, “a shadow economy enacted under a glistening sun”, Steyerl’s ‘Factory of the Sun’ takes a deeper look at digital visual culture, Zielony presents a photographic essay of African refugees in Berlin and Hamburg, and finally, Metwaly and Rizk invite various people in Cairo to tell their stories in an improvised studio space for their film project, ‘Out on the Street’.
Other notable projects will include Holy See‘s exhibition at the Sale d’Armi, American artist Kara Walker‘s production of Norma by Vincenzo Bellini, commissioned by La Fenice Opera House, which will premiere on May 20th, a 7-month long, continuous live reading of all three volumes of Karl Marx‘s Das Kapital, as well as a variety of educational programs, collateral events, and benefits for those interested in taking part in the 56th Venice Biennale. The awards ceremony and inauguration will take place on Saturday May 9th, 2015.
LA BIENNALE DI VENEZIA
“All Tomorrow’s Futures” – 56th International Art Exhibition
Exhibition: May 9 – Nov. 22, 2015
Preview: May 6 – 8
Inauguration: Saturday, May 9