What better way to explore Venice than being on the hunt for thought provoking, enlightening world class art and exhibitions? I recently made the pilgrimage to see the work of Khadija Saye, an artist who sadly died in the Grenfell Tower disaster, an unexpected and poignant moment during my visit.
While this trip was my first time visiting Venice, I had to remain focused and not be distracted by the sheer beauty of the city, to ensure I had ample time to take everything in during my weekend jaunt. For those who wish to see all that the Biennale has on offer, I’d recommend a five or six-day visit, however, a weekend visit will give you a good flavour of what’s on show.
Now is the perfect time to visit – the throng of summer tourists have packed up and left and the Biennale buffs have been and gone – leaving a wonderful space to wander round the exhibitions bathed in the dazzling Autumn glow. In addition to experiencing the artworks themselves, you can attend ‘Open Table’ sessions with the artists and check out the music festival.
This year’s curator is Parisian Christine Macel, best known for her curatorial role at the Pompidou Centre. Macel’s working title for this year’s Biennale ‘Viva Arte Viva’, translates to ‘a celebration of the artist and of art for its own sake’, a move away from one central theme most Biennales have, while removing it from a political agenda where many Biennales have sat in the past.
Throughout the Biennale there are 120 invited artists from 51 countries; 103 of whom are participating for the first time. While most of the artwork is concentrated in the two main sites, The Biennale spreads throughout the city with more than 20 collateral events and exhibitions taking place.
The main exhibition sites are the Giardini and the Arsenale; two immense permanent buildings that sit within a 10-minute walk of each other and lie along one of the main waterways of Venice. The participating artists are grouped together into nine ‘chapters’ including The Pavilion of Joys and Fears, which explores the relationship between the individual and his own existence, and The Dionysian Pavilion, which celebrates the female body and its sexuality. These groupings help the viewer navigate their way around an eclectic mix of art forms, scale and meaning.
So, if you haven't had the chance to attend, now's the time to go! To wrap up the celebrations in style, the grand finale on 26 November promises an exciting programme of events and closing parties, ensuring an electric atmosphere for all to enjoy.
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Arts, Culture & Entertainment