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Venice Biennale 2017

Venice Biennale 2017

Once in every two years since 1895, Venice traditionally turns into the international center of contemporary art. Artists, sculptors, museum staff, journalists, curators, gallery owners, collectors, art enthusiasts and interested people come here from all over the world. New ideas, new names, new trends...

On Sunday, May 13th, 2017 the official opening of the 57th Venice Biennale took place. The event will last till November 26th, 2017. 120 artists from 51 countries of the world participate in the contemporary art exposition; 103 of them display their works at the Venice Biennale for the first time.

The expo title VIVA ARTE VIVA means ”Long live the living art”The expo title VIVA ARTE VIVA means ”Long live the living art”, photo, WEB

This year the curator of the world’s most prestigious contemporary art exposition is Christine Macel, an art critic and the principal curator of the Georges Pompidou Art and Culture Center in Paris.  The title of the event – VIVA ARTE VIVA ― can be translated as “Long live the living art”. “Viva Arte Viva is an exclamation expressing passion towards the art and the artist”, ― the Biennale curator explains.

On May 13th, 2017 the official opening of the 57th Venice Biennale took place, photo © Giulia IlinaOn May 13th, 2017 the official opening of the 57th Venice Biennale took place, photo © Giulia Ilina

“Facing conflicts and unrests of the world, contemporary art remains the most valuable testimony of humanity. While the idea of humanism is at risk, art is the last fortress we should guard; the garden we should carefully grow without paying attention to fashion or anyone’s interests; art is an alternative to individualism and indifference, – Christine Macel believes. – That is why, the artist’s voice and stance are play a decisive role in many of modern discussions. It is due to these personalities the pattern of the tomorrow world is drawn ― the world of blurred borders, where artists are able to feel the future better than the others”.

Venice Biennale 2017Venice Biennale, photo © Giulia Ilina

86 countries are represented at the Biennale at historical Giardini pavilions, Arsenal and in the center of Venice. Three countries take part in the contemporary art exhibition for the first time: Antigua and Barbuda, Kiribati, Nigeria.

Venice Biennale 2017

Venice Biennale, photo © Giulia Ilina

The Russian pavilion (its curator is Semyon Mikhailovski, the rector of the St. Petersburg Academy Institute of Painting) was named Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, which can be translated from Latin as “The Spectacle of the Earthly Circle” and coincides with the title of the first world atlas, made in the 16th century. The modern interpretation of the Orbis Terrarum featured a Russian-American artist Grisha Bruskin with the Decorations Change installation, the Recycle art group of two artists from Krasnodar Andrey Blokhin and Georgy Kuznetsov with the Blocked Content installation and a Rodchenko School of Photography and Multimedia graduate Sasha Pirogova with her video “Inner Physics”.

Russian pavilion, Venice BiennaleRussian pavilion, Venice Biennale, photo © Giulia Ilina

The Chinese pavilion (curator ― QiuZhijie) offers an exhibition Continuum – Generation by Generation, where the works of contemporary artists are combined with millennia-old traditions of the Chinese culture. The opening ceremony at the Chinese pavilion featured one of the oldest visual performances ― Chinese shadow puppetry. This art is more than 1700 years old but the considerable age doesn’t impede its ability to charm the viewers.

Chinese pavilion, Venice Biennale

Chinese pavilion, Venice Biennale, photo © Giulia Ilina

The central position of the English pavilion is occupied by the Folly ― a sculpture work by Phyllida Barlow, composed of massive constructs made of “common materials” – plywood, plaster, cardboard, fabric.

English pavilion, Venice BiennaleEnglish pavilion, Venice Biennale, photo © Giulia Ilina

The pavilion of Georgia looks very lyrical ― it is an old house with the leaking roof; it is completely awash with water. Old things, drops of water, huge empty jars and aluminum vats, wet lace curtains on misted windows, old photos on the walls ― nostalgia is made alive in the Living Dog Among Dead Lions installation by Vajiko Chachkhiani. The world of the past stays still for several seconds and then fades away with the raindrops right in front of the viewer.

Georgian pavilion, Venice Biennale

Georgian pavilion, Venice Biennale, photo © Giulia Ilina

One can speak about other pavilions for hours, but it’s better to come to Venice in person to witness everything by your own eyes. 

Venice Biennale 2017Venice Biennale, photo © Giulia Ilina

Moreover, simultaneously with the Biennale, 23 parallel events and special projects are taking place in the city.For instance, A World of Fragile Parts exposition organized jointly with the London Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), which is devoted to applied arts and preservation of cultural heritage.

A World of Fragile Parts exhibition

A World of Fragile Parts exhibition, photo © Andrea Avezzù, courtesy of La Biennale di Venezia

The city guests can also visit the exposition of a Belgian artist Jan Fabre (one of the exposition curators is head of the Stage Hermitage Museum’s Contemporary Art Department Dmitry Ozerkov). Another example is the Man as Bird. Images of Journeys exhibition organized by the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, which offers to contemplate the topic of technology and culture.

Leonid Tishkov, Private Moon, 2003–2017. Light installation

Leonid Tishkov, Private Moon, 2003–2017. Light installation, photos, videos © Courtesy of the artist

Palazzo Franchetti displays a beautiful Glasstress 2017 project devoted to glass, the specialty of Venice.

Проект Glasstress 2017, посвящённый стеклу

The Glasstress 2017 project devoted to glass, photo © Giulia Ilina

Another notable event is a personal exhibition of a Russian artist Valery Koshlyakov ”We Have Never Stopped Building Utopia” in the Ca’Foscari University; the exhibition was supported by the Museum of Russian Impressionism. 14 years ago the artist represented Russia at the Biennale in Venice. You can see his transparent, light, illusionary works in the most romantic Italian city till July 29th, 2017.

Russian artist Valery Koshlyakov

Russian artist Valery Koshlyakov, photo © Giulia Ilina

2017 Venice Biennale is an anthem to “new humanism”, where the main character doesn’t suppress the surrounding world, but glorifies the triumph of human abilities through art. And this year’s capital of “new humanism” is Venice.

Giulia Ilina, Venice