57th Venice Bienniale

It seems like a lifetime ago that Okwui Enwezor gave his dark, poetic, haunting and urgent vision of “All the World’s Futures,” in the 2015 Venice Bienniale. The 57th art exhibition is curated by Christine Marcel, Chief Curator at the Musée national d’art moderne – Centre Pompidou in Paris. This year’s theme “Viva Arte Viva”, is an exclamation and expression of the passion for art and for the state of the artist. A bienniale that deals with the forms they propose, the questions they pose, the practices they develop and the forms of life they choose. In a statement explaining the choice of title, Marcel writes, “In a world full of conflicts and jolts, in which humanism is being seriously jeopardized, art is the most precious part of the human being.” Now the world’s concerns are unfold over the course of nine “transpavilions” with titles that refer to a contemporary interest:

Pavilion of Artists and Books opens on a tension between action and inaction, between laziness and active engagement. This section of the exhibition looks at ways of being an artist, the reasons, both good and bad for “making art” today, looking also – with a hint of sarcasm – at the art milieu itself. This pavilion gives us a glimpse of the artists’ studios; some of which increasingly resemble offices, warehouses or collective workplaces.

Adrastus’ Artists Featured:

  • Petrit Halilaj
  • Edi Rama
Adrastus Collection is presenting Edi Rama, Untitled (New York) (2016). This wallpaper installation is part of the collection’s acquisition program.

Pavilion of Joys and Fears explores the relationship between the individual and his own existence, his emotions and feelings or the ones he tries to generate. In a world shaken by conflicts, wars, and increasing inequality that lead to populism and anti-elitism, subjective emotions resurface, now more than ever.

Rachel Rose, Lake Valley (2016)

Pavilion of the Common explores the notion of the common world and the way to build a community, as a way to counter individualism and self-interests, which represent a worrisome threat in today’s troubling climate. The anthropological aspect is particularly important here, with a number of historical works addressing the issue of the common world where conceptions of the world appear the most different, or rooted to the earth and community as common denominators, regardless of ideology.

Lee Mingwei’s The Mending Project (2009-2017)

Pavilion of the Earth questions tradition no longer from the point of view of customs and behaviors, often associated with religion or morality, but through the lens of dialogue between the old and the recent. The last few years have seen a plethora of artists explore not only contemporary or recent history, but also a more distant past, as if fired by the fever of archaeology, excavation, re-interpretation and reinvention

Adrastus’ Artist Featured:

  • Petrit Halilaj
Petrit Halilaj’s Do you realize there is a rainbow even if it’s night? (2017), a sculpture of a giant moth.

Pavilion of Traditions is centered on environmental, animal and planetary utopias, observations and dreams. From communitarian utopias reminiscent of the ecological or esoteric ideas typical of the 1970s, to current theories about the ties between climate and capitalist strategies, as well as individual fictions; all conjure both a sense of melancholy and a profound joy.

 Adrastus Featured Artists:

  • Leonor Antunes
  • Anri Sala
  • Gabriel Orozco
Leonor Antunes installation referencing Dutch Structuralist architect Aldo van Eyck’s Hubertus House, in Amsterdam.

Pavilion of Shamans subscribes to the definition of the artist as a “shaman”. The invention of stories or performances reminiscent of therapeutic rituals illustrates the aspiration towards the sacred, “shaman” a key feature of the beginning of the 21st century, although without any religious digression.

Ernesto Neto, Um Sagrado Lugar (A Sacred Place) 2017

Pavilion of the Dionysian celebrates the female body and its sexuality, life and pleasure, all with joy and a sense of humour, and features numerous works created by female artists. Drawings, costumes, geometrical paintings with erotic lines, organic sculptures and photographs reinvent the image of the female body, no longer seen through the gaze of desire but from within or from its edges.

Jeremy Shaw Towards Universal Pattern Recognition series (2016)

Pavilion of Colors can be described as the “fireworks” at the end of the journey, where all the questions presented in the preceding pavilions come together to provide what might be described almost as an “out-of-self” experience prior to the final chapter.  Colours thus appear to be a particularly subjective source of emotion, which calls to reconsider the relevance of the phenomenological approaches of art.

Shiela Hicks’s Escalade Beyond Chromatic Lands (2016-17)

Pavilion of Time and Infinity contains the “Garden of the Virgins” where performances will happen everyday. Time as a flow of continuous mutations and impermanence that eventually lead to death, has inhabited the work of artists since the 1970s, when conceptual performance combined thoughts on the length of time and the inevitable fall.

Edith Dekyndt’s performance One Thousand and One Nights (2016)

In addition, each year the Venice Biennale’s national pavilions provide a platform for countries around the world to showcase their most relevant and influential art. There are incredible cultural politics behind the now 85 national pavilions. In this occasion, 3 countries will be participating for the first time: Antigua and Barbuda, Kiribati, Nigeria. Among the Adrastus Collection’s artists that will be representing each invited country highlight Geoffrey Farmer for Canada, Cinthia Marcelle from Brazil and Carlos Amorales for Mexico.

 To quote Robert Storr –artist, critic, and curator–, the best way to approach this biennale is to “think with the senses, feel with the mind” – and use as much heart and emotion as intellect.