VENICE – As one of the most important art events of the year gears up for its opening, organizers on Tuesday revealed that this year’s Venice Art Biennale will present art as “a kind of guide for how to live and think in ‘interesting times’,” the exhibition’s curator said in a statement Tuesday.
Within a context of rising nationalism and the largest displacement of people in human history, “May You Live in Interesting Times,” will showcase artworks “that challenge existing habits of thought and open up our readings of objects and images, gestures and situations,” said Ralph Rugoff, curator of this year’s exhibition at the Venice Biennial and the Hayward Gallery director.
Art critic, essayist and independent curator, Rugoff was inspired by something Robert F. Kennedy said during a trip to South Africa in 1966, for the 58th edition of the Venice art event.
The phrase has also been attributed to a Chinese curse that pointed to politically tumultuous times and suggested imminent periods of crises and shock, not unlike “the interesting times” that have gripped the world of late.
And while there will no doubt be overtly political art showcased, Rugoff reminded audiences that art doesn’t flex its muscles within a political context but rather offers an alternative and critical reading of multiple aspects of everyday life.
One such artwork, “Barca Nostra,” has docked in the Venetian port of Marghera.
The 27-meter-long rusty fishing boat was the vessel that sank off the Libyan coast in the Mediterranean Sea killing at least 700 migrants on April 18, 2015.
The main exhibition, which will showcase 79 international artists, will be presented within the central pavilions of the Arsenale, a cluster of former Venetian shipyards, and the Giardini pavilions.
Within these spaces, viewers will be treated to the works by Mexican artists Teresa Margollesa and Gabriel Rico, Argentinians Ad Minoliti and Tomas Saraceno, Uruguayan artists Jill Mulleady, Brit Ed Atkins, Frenchman Antoine Catala, Indian photographer Gauri Gill and Japanese composer Ryoji Ikeda.
In addition to the main exhibition, 90 national pavilions will be presented with four new inclusions: Ghana, Madagascar, Malaysia and Pakistan.
The Dominican Republic will also host its own pavilion for the first time.
The international art biennial will include 21 collateral events organized by nonprofit organizations from around the world and will open to the public on May 11 and will run until Nov. 24.
The prized pavilions will be announced at the launch event as well as awarding American sculptor, essayist and poet, Jimmie Durham, this year’s coveted Golden Lion.