57th International Art Exhibition
VIVA ARTE VIVA
Venice Giardini and Arsenale
May 13th – November 26th 2017
Preview May 10th -11th -12th
The awards ceremony and inauguration
Saturday May 13th 2017.
curated by Christine Macel and organized
by La Biennale di Venezia chaired by Paolo Baratta.
The Exhibition will also include 84 National Participations in the historic Pavilions at the Giardini, at the Arsenale and in the historic city centre of Venice. Four countries will be participating for the first time: Antigua and Barbuda, Kiribati, Nigeria and Kazakhstan (for the first time with its own national pavilion).
The Italian Pavilion at the Tese delle Vergini in the Arsenale, sponsored and promoted by the Ministero dei Beni e delle Attività Culturali e del Turismo, Direzione Generale Arte e Architettura Contemporanee e Periferie Urbane, will be curated this year by Cecilia Alemani.
Also for this edition, selected Collateral Events are expected. Promoted by non profit national and international institutions, they present their exhibitions and initiatives in Venice during the 57th Exhibition.
The attached documents provide useful information about the Biennale Arte 2017; they also extend our most heartfelt thanks to all those who, directly or indirectly, have been working on the Exhibition for some time, who will create it and make it come alive. Our thanks to Christine Macel, who accepted our invitation to curate the 57th International Art Exhibition, and to the entire staff of La Biennale, its supporters and its sponsors, in particular our partner, Swatch.
We customarily define La Biennale as a place of research. We customarily repeat that, regardless of the Exhibition’s theme or approach, La Biennale must present itself as a place whose method—and almost raison d’être—is dedicated to an open dialogue between artists, and between artists and the public. This spirit has been confirmed at every Biennale in past years.
The 57th Exhibition introduces a further development. It is as though what has always been our primary work method—encounter and dialogue—has now become the theme of the Exhibition, because this year’s Biennale is dedicated to celebrating, and almost giving thanks for, the very existence of art and artists, whose worlds expand our perspective and the space of our existence.
Christine Macel has called it an Exhibition inspired by humanism. This type of humanism is neither focused on an artistic ideal to follow nor is it characterized by the celebration of mankind as beings who can dominate their surroundings. If anything, this humanism, through art, celebrates mankind’s ability to avoid being dominated by the powers governing world affairs. These powers, if left to their own devices, can greatly affect the human dimension, in a detrimental sense.
In this type of humanism, the artistic act is contemporaneously an act of resistance, of liberation and of generosity.
In presenting the works to us, Macel has adopted a theme shared by the great humanist authors: the journey. Along the journey of the Exhibition’s itinerary, the artists encounter each other; they draw near to, or distance themselves from one another, according to the affinities manifested in the impulses and stimuli which move them, in the challenges they must face, or in the practices they have chosen to follow.
It is not a classification, but rather, a disposition, a choreography, an epic poem parsed in a prologue and nine episodes, in which each individual work of art has the task of engaging the visitor with its vitality (and I know how carefully Macel has selected each and every work).
And this brings us to another aspect of this year’s Exhibition, which alone qualifies it, above and beyond all the themes or narrations: of the 120 artists who have been invited to the Exhibition by our curator, 103 are participating here for the first time. Some are discoveries; many others, at least for this year’s edition, are rediscoveries. And these courageous choices, too, are a concrete expression of our confidence in the world of art.
In the past, we have often experimented with the practice of direct encounters between artists and visitors, in every sector: Architecture, Music, Dance, Theatre, and Cinema. Occasionally, we have also done so in the Visual Arts and, each time, we realized how important this is in the interest of a more rounded participation at La Biennale. This year, direct encounters with the artists have assumed a strategic role, to the point of becoming one of the pillars of La Biennale, whose program is of unprecedented size, commitment and courage, above all bearing in mind the above-mentioned preponderance of first-time participants.
For several years now, every Art Exhibition has dedicated a “Book Pavilion” to the collection of works which the artists personally send us and which speak of them and their creation, almost as though constructing a “bibliography” of the Exhibition. This year, La Biennale also asked the artists to send us publications and writings which were particularly important to their training and artistic development. They will later be asked to provide us with documentation on their practices.
Over the years, our interest has grown in the artists’ “curricula;” the creation of an important archive stimulates our efforts to this end.
Our curator’s main Exhibition is surrounded by the 84 pavilions of participating countries, each with its own curator, which will once more bring to life the pluralism of voices which is a hallmark of La Biennale di Venezia. Many pavilions have followed the guidelines suggested by our curator and have accepted the invitations to participate in joint programs.
There will be many Collateral Exhibitions and Collateral Events, including the Pavilion dedicated to the Applied Arts, managed in partnership with the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and the Special Project, organized in collaboration with Teatro La Fenice. Other important Biennale Festivals will take place throughout the duration of the Exhibition: in June, the 11th International Festival of Contemporary Dance (directed by Marie Chouinard); in July and August, the 45th International Festival of Theatre (directed by Antonio Latella); between late August and early September, the 74th International Film Festival (directed by Alberto Barbera); in October, the 61st International Festival of Contemporary Music (directed by the composer Ivan Fedele); not to mention the important “college” activities which have been organized in each sector. Many of these initiatives will take place at the Arsenale, inside the venues of the International Art Exhibition itself. In short, La Biennale will be encircled by all the many Biennales.
Biennale viva, viva La Biennale!
Paolo Baratta, President of La Biennale di Venezia
The Exhibition: Focus on Art and Artists
Today, in a world full of conflicts and shocks, art bears witness to the most precious part of what makes us human. Art is the ultimate ground for reflection, individual expression, freedom, and for fundamental questions. Art is the favourite realm for dreams and utopias, a catalyst for human connections that roots us both to nature and the cosmos, that elevates us to a spiritual dimension. Art is the last bastion, a garden to cultivate above and beyond trends and personal interests. It stands as an unequivocal alternative to individualism and indifference. It builds us up and edifies us. At a time of global disorder, art embraces life, even if doubt ensues inevitably. The role, the voice and the responsibility of the artist are more crucial than ever before within the framework of contemporary debates. It is in and through these individual initiatives that the world of tomorrow takes shape, which though surely uncertain, is often best intuited by artists than others.
VIVA ARTE VIVA is an exclamation, a passionate outcry for art and the state of the artist. VIVA ARTE VIVA is a Biennale designed with artists, by artists and for artists, about the forms they propose, the questions they ask, the practices they develop and the ways of life they choose.
Rather than broaching a single theme, VIVA ARTE VIVA offers a route that moulds the artists’ works and a context that favours access and understanding, generating connections, resonances and thoughts. The journey unfolds over the course of nine chapters, or families of artists, beginning with two introductory realms in the Central Pavilion, followed by another seven across the Arsenale through the Giardino delle Vergini. Each chapter represents a Pavilion in itself, or rather a Trans-Pavilion as it is trans-national by nature but echoes the Biennale’s historical organisation into pavilions, the number of which has never ceased to grow since the end of the 1990s. This semantic nod addresses the often debated relevance of the national pavilions, whilst going beyond it, as each chapter mixes artists of all generations and origins. There is however, no physical separation between the various pavilions, which flow together like the chapters of a book. From the Pavilion of Artists and Books to the Pavilion of Time and Infinity, these nine episodes tell a story that is often discursive and at times paradoxical, with detours that mirror the world’s complexities, a multiplicity of approaches and a wide variety of practices. The exhibition is intended as an experience, an extrovert movement from the self to the other, towards a common space beyond the defined dimensions, and onwards to the idea of a potential neo-humanism. This movement of the self towards the unknown, where experience and speculation are at the forefront is in and of itself a response to a conservative environment, defying bias, distrust and indifference.
Open to the public from Saturday May 13th to Sunday November 26th 2017, at the Giardini and the Arsenale, the 57th International Art Exhibition, titled VIVA ARTE VIVA, will be curated by Christine Macel and organized by LaBiennale di Venezia chaired by Paolo Baratta. The preview will take place on May 10th, 11th and 12th, the awards ceremony and inauguration will be held on Saturday May 13th 2017.
The 57th International Art Exhibition was made possible by the support of Swatch, partner of the event.
Sponsors: JTI (Japan Tobacco International), Vela-Venezia Unica, illycaffè, and COIMA.
Thanks to Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP.
We would like to thank the Ministero dei Beni e delle Attività Culturali e del Turismo, the regional Institutions that each in their own way support La Biennale, the City of Venice and the Regione Veneto.
Our thanks go to our Donors, who are essential to the creation of the 57th Exhibition.
Particularly our thanks go to Christine Macel and to all her team. And finally we would like to thank the highly professional staff of La Biennale, who work with such great dedication on the organization and management of the Exhibition.