May You Live In Interesting Times

  • Kat Koch

Review of 58th Venice Biennale in 2019

The 58th Venice Biennale, also known as the Art World Olympics, opened at the beginning of May in one of Italy’s most heavily tourist-populated cities. Non-Venetians here take one of two forms; those who come to slurp a €20 coffee on San Marco Square or pay €80-100 for a gondola ride and those that come every two years to witness the most significant display of international art in the most unique location possible. Since 1895, the Venice Biennale has been hosted every other year. In addition to the grand national pavilions in the Giardini, in 1980 the Arsenale (the old Venetian shipyard) was added as an exhibition venue for its generosity of space. In 2019, 89 different nations are participating in the Venice biennale, 4 nations for the very first time: Ghana, Madagascar, Malaysia, and Pakistan. In its 58th installment, Ralph Rugoff (currently the director of Hayward Gallery in London) has curated the main exhibition, featuring only 79 artists, all of them currently alive today (a first for the biennale). ‘May You Live in Interesting Times’, his chosen title for the biennale; a call to arms inciting visitors to engage with the many presentations across the Arsenale, Giardini, ...

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