Off to the 2017 Venice Biennale


I’ll be attending the Bienale for the first with a group of artists and press organized out of Boston for the week of the press preview and public opening. We’ll each be recording and writing about the work presented, and in some cases, displaying and discussing our own work at a reception held in Venice during the press preview.

Officially, the 57th Art Biennale takes place in the former Venetian military dockyard — the Arsenale — and in the national pavilions of the Giardini. Beyond the official showing, there are many official Collateral and auxillary events spread throughout the city, including other national pavillions and exhibitions representing the work of independant artists. Together, they encourage visitors to explore both well-known and familiar locations and offbeat parts of the city.

Included in this year’s echibition are 120 invited artists from 51 countries; 103 of these artists are participating in the Biennale for the first time. There are 86 National Participating countries, spread around the historic Pavilions at the Giardini, at the Arsenale and in Venice’s historic city center. Antigua and Barbuda; Kiribati; and Nigeria are participating for the first time. Selected Collateral events are featured and organized by non-profit national and international institutions

Christine Macel curates the 2017 Biennale exhibition. Macel has served as the Chief Curator at the Musée d’art moderne at the Pompidou Centre since 2000, establishing the museum’s contemporary art department. Paolo Baratta serves as the chair of the Biennale. Under Marcel’s direction, the 2017 theme is “Viva Art Viva,” offering a less political theme and shifting the focus to art and artists.

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.

The exhibition is treated as a narrative, split into 10 “Trans-Pavilions” presented as chapters. Like the chapters of a book, they flow together with no physical separation between them, each with their own title:

The Pavilion of Artists and Books, 
The Pavilion of Artists and Books
 Pavilion of Joys and Fears, 
The Pavilion of the Common
The Pavilion of the Earth
The Pavilion of Traditions
The Pavilion of Shamans
The Dionysian Pavilion
The Pavilion of Colours
The Pavilion of Time and Infinity

For the six months of the Biennale, a series of Tavola Aperta (Open Table) events will be held every Friday and Saturday. Artists host, meeting visitors over a casual lunch and conversation about their work and practice. These events will be filmed and streamed live on the Biennale’s website.

Nick Di Stefano