Venice Biennale

Monday 28 October 2013

An Encyclopedic Art Experience


I have just spent an inspiring few days at the 55th Biennale D’arte di Venezia. The Venice Biennale is the worlds largest, oldest and most prestigious Biennale. It has been around for over 100 years now and it a highly anticipated event in the international art world.
The Biennale includes pavilions from 88 different countries, and an extensive central exhibition entitled The Encyclopedic Palace, curated by Massimiliano Gioni ( himself a United World College IB diploma graduate!)

The Biennale is unusual this year in that contemporary artists are exhibited alongside works from the past, from self-taught artists, outsider artists and even some who do not presume to be artists such as Rudolf Steiner and Carl Gustav Jung. In blurring the line between professional artists and amateurs, celebrity artists and complete unknowns, the exhibit presents a fascinating, unusual, more anthropological overview of images. The title Encyclopedic Palace refers to a Marini Auriti’s design for an imaginary museum that was meant to house all wordly knowledge (1955). In fact, the main exhibit in the Central Pavilion is a microcosm of this wordly knowledge, showcasing many varied approaches to visualizing knowledge through cosmologies, collections, artefacts, icons, visions and the imagination.

Discover new artists

I made some delightful new discoveries myself: Imran Quesreshi's delicate contemporary miniatures, Oliver Croy and Oliver Elser's 'doll' houses made from recycled materials, Ellen Altfests' hyper realist body paintings, anonymous tantric paintings, just to name a few, as well as seeing work I'd never seen by old favorites such as Fischli and Weiss, Thierry de Cordier,  Sarah Lucas...and much more that I can't begin to list here.

Visiting the Biennale

It’s a great venue to bring your students to and I am currently in the process of making resource pages on how to use the Biennale for Inquiry and Studio work. For international students, this can be a way to connect with the work of their home country and a focus for the study of contemporary artists from different cultural backgrounds. For teachers it’s a great way of staying informed, learning about new artists and staying abreast of the ever-mutating contemporary art world.
If you would like to visit the Biennale, the show is on until November 24th, so hurry up! If there simply isn’t time this year, never mind, the Biennale will be back again in 2015.



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