Published On: Fri, May 10th, 2019

May You Live In Interesting Times: 58th Venice Biennale 2019

By Janet Ekstract

VENICE (TURKISH JOURNAL) – The 58th Venice Biennale, celebrating its 20th anniversary this year opens tomorrow and promises to be one of the most eclectic and exciting with 90 nations exhibiting and a surprise underground tunnel that runs from one exhibition to another.

Biennale President, Paolo Baratta commented on this year’s exhibition entitled May You Live In Interesting Times: “I believe an exhibition of art is worth our attention, first and foremost, if it intends to present us with art and artists as a decisive challenge to all oversimplifying attitudes.”

Baratta added: “We are an international exhibition that since those years, put the word “open” and “plateau of humankind” as the subtitle for all the following biennials.”

He added that the aim of the Venice Biennale is to offer visitors and guests “an open gym” – a place where they can feel directly involved in an interactive experience that creates a seamless connection between the work and the artists.

The Biennale president said Ralph Rugoff was asked to collaborate on our 20th anniversary because of his experience in creating eclectic, creative unexpected spaces that offer an experiential moment rather than a passive one.

Rugoff, the former director of Hayward Gallery in London is well known for his  talent in creating  exhibitions featuring diverse artists working in and around complex themes. He is also known for his ability to create a bridge between the viewer, the art and the artist.

The 2019 Biennale will present 79 artists and collectives from nations as diverse as Ghana, presenting for the very first time at the Biennale.

Rugoff’s raison d’etre for his choice in artists has to do with artists whose work is considered as he explained: “multivalent, richly ambiguous, that could deal with paradox and contradiction, that generated many associations that could be interpreted in different ways by viewers.”

The Biennale director has divided the exhibition into two separate areas comprised of the Arsenale and Giardini known as the Central Pavilion.

His take on how art can transform one’s existence is evident in this comment: “Art can be a kind of guide for how to live and think in ‘interesting times.’ Though the title of the exhibition is ‘May You Live In Interesting Times’ – Rugoff explained that this 58th Biennale “will not have a theme per se but will highlight a general approach to making art and a view of art’s social function as embracing both pleasure and critical thinking.”

The former gallery director said that this year’s 20th anniversary exhibition will “challenge existing habits of thought and open up readings of objects and images, gestures and situations.” He added that “art of this kind grows out of a practice of imagining multiple perspectives.”

It’s a matter of a somewhat intellectual savvy that prompts the viewer to consider opposite notions that may seem “contradictory and incompatible” while juggling diverse ways of making sense of the world,” Ruggo said.

Artists who present in this type of manner can “offer alternatives to the meaning of so-called facts by suggesting other ways of connecting and contextualizing them,” Rugoff insisted.

In this way, their work, he says, “takes on a life of its own” through an endless curiosity and a wry wit while motivating us to observe scenarios from a range of different aspects. He added, “This in turn, lures us to consider a range of alternatives and unique perspectives while teaching us to discern the manner in which “order” becomes the simultaneous presence of diverse orders.”

This exhibition Rugoff commented will definitely include artworks that reflect on “precarious” aspects of existence in the 21st century that will include diverse threats to key traditions, institutions and relationshiops of the “post-war order.” 

The Biennale will include 90 international participants in the historic Pavilions at the Giardini, at the Arsenale and in Venice’s historic city center. This Biennale Arte is extraordinarlily special since four countries will be showcasing their artwork for the first time in this venue: Ghana, Madagascar, MalaysiaandPakistan. The Dominican Republic exhibits for the first time at the Biennale Arte with its own national pavilion.

The Italian Pavilionat the Tese delle Vergini in the Arsenale is sponsored and promoted by the Ministry of Cultural Activities– Director General of Contemporary Art, Architecture and Urban Planning – that will be curated this year by Milovan Farronato.

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  1. My Lib says:

    The Exhibition also includes 89 National Participations in the historic Pavilions at the Giardini, at the Arsenale and in the historic city centre of Venice. Four countries are participating for the first time at the Biennale Arte: Ghana, Madagascar, Malaysia and Pakistan. The Dominican Republic exhibits for the first time at the Biennale Arte with its own national pavilion.

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