Fidest – Agenzia giornalistica/press agency

Quotidiano di informazione – Anno 29 n° 175

The importance of the Venice Biennale

Posted by fidest press agency su sabato, 13 maggio 2017

venice biennaleEVERY odd-numbered year, more than half a million culture-vultures descend on Venice to visit the Art Biennale, the art show on which all other biennales are based. Artists, curators, billionaire collectors and directors of faraway museums gather see new work by their chosen artists. Artists are honoured to be asked to show off their work, and visitors rich and poor don’t mind the queues, the crowds or the shortage of toilets. What makes the Venice Biennale the world’s pre-eminent stage for new contemporary art? The Venice Biennale was founded in 1895 to mark the silver anniversary of the accession of the bewhiskered King Umberto I of Italy and his consort, Margherita of Savoy. National pavilions made their debut appearance in 1907, the first being Belgium, giving rise to a veritable United Nations of art shows in purpose-built exhibition spaces. This year the Biennale is host to 83 national pavilions; 28 are in the Giardini and the rest are fielded in the Arsenale, the city’s former shipyard, and in rented spaces around the port. There is always also a main exhibition around a unifying theme, assembled by a specially selected curator. This year it is Christine Macel, of the Pompidou Centre in Paris, with an intimate exhibition of the everyday called “Viva Arte Viva”.
Though rarely mentioned, a fierce competitiveness pervades the Biennale. Architects vie to design the most interesting new national pavilions. Denton Corker Marshall built Australia’s black box of a space for the 2015 Biennale; this year the Canadian pavilion, closed for a much-needed refurbishment, has been drenched in water (to symbolise life, death and tragedy) by Geoffrey Farmer, an artist from Vancouver. Countries field their best artists. Crowds of art-world supporters—often a cynical lot—glow with pride when their country wins one of the grand prizes offered by the international five-person jury on the first day of the Biennale’s public opening, which this year is on May 13th. The prizes are democratic. Neither special pleading nor a vast budget can ensure a place on the podium, which is why artists like the awards. In 2015 the best pavilion was judged to be Armenia; in 2013 it was Angola.The key to the success and longevity of the Venice Biennale is its organic nature: there is no single source of state or private funding, which means no one entity has total control of the Biennale. Venice offers the setting, with its resplendent and ever-shifting sky, but no money—except for the main exhibition, which this year had a budget of only €13m ($14.1m) to cover expenses. Making, shipping and mounting the shows in the national pavilions is in principle funded by arts organisations such as the British Council. But the costs are high, and most need more help. So artists’ galleries and private donors all have to chip in. From its inception, the Venice Biennale has always been intimately linked with the art market. Even though, officially, selling art works has been banned by the Venice Biennale since 1968, no art buff can turn down the chance of buying the work of an artist who is about to be discovered, in the hope that he or she will turn out to be the next Damien Hirst. La Serenissima is a great showcase for art, but, true to its nature as a trading entrepot through the centuries, it also provides the meeting point for the the masses and the money that have always made up the DNA of the art world. (font. The Economist)

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