Week 7 – Venice Biennale

ABF offered a travel grant to help enhance my artistic practice. I wanted to ensure I made the most of this opportunity to broaden my knowledge and understanding of art today. After visiting The Venice Biennale in October 2017, I was inspired and excited about both the artwork and the methods of display within the different pavilions, so I couldn’t wait to return!!

For those who do not know about the Venice Biennale, as suggested by the name it is held every other year, alternating with the Architecture Biennale. 90 countries put forward an artist to represent their country. It is held for over 6 months, within The Arsenale, The Giardini with other pavilions scattered across Venice.

We planned our trip around The Biennale. After our previous visit we had realised the importance of research beforehand. Hoping to not be as overwhelmed as our last visit. I was particularly interested in the display of work and different methods artists have shown their work relating to performance.

The day we visited the Giardini, we made our way through the floods to the pavilions. Here I want to discuss my personal favourite exhibitions from The Giardini:


Ryoji Ikeda, Spectra III, 2008/2019.
As soon as you walked into the corridor you were nearly blinded by the bright lights! Ikeda explores the concepts of opening the doors to the sublime.

Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Walled Unwalled, 2018
Although originally I did not plan to spend time looking at this work. It intrigued me, the long video documenting different legal scenarios and how we interpret them, discussing the public and private.

Shila Gupta, Untitled, 2009.
I had seen this work previously when scrolling through Instagram. This showcases concepts of boundaries and the importance of seeing a work in real life. A metal gate, usually seen on driveways, with large spikes at the top, hitting against the wall. The sound made and the effect of the gate upon the wall were extremely interesting. Although the movement was controlled there was a lack of predictability in the effect the gate was going to have on the wall itself.

Stanislav Kolibal
Blurs the boundaries between painting, drawing, sculpture and architecture. These conceptual abstracted geometric shapes and lines dominate the space and discuss disruption and connection.

I was captivated by the difference in line, the use of shape and thickness to create tensions between the shapes.

Padiglione Venezia
Upon first site of this work, you feel an uneasiness of what is going to happen when you walk inside. We were asked to take our shoes off to walk through. You felt embodied by the work as soon as you walked in. I think as we had experienced the flooding that very same morning, we made connotations to Venice and the climate change issues.

However, when reading about the work itself, thoughts of embodiment and how bodies perform within a constrained space became important. It was truly an experience to walk through and a bit of light relief from some previous work we had looked at.

Aya Ben Ron, Field Hosptial X, 2019
This was truly an experience, and the one pavilion which stood out from the others. As soon as you walked in, you were able to recognise it as a hospital setting, with seats laid out as if you were in a waiting room. We were asked to take a ticket, so then you could go through to the next stage when it was your turn. Whilst waiting you were able to watch a series of small videos, explaining what the work is about.

Once your number was called, you went to the help desk and chose a particular story you were interested in. All of the stories were private, personal and thought provoking.

You then went to stand in a box, there were no recordings within the space, they were soundproofed. Whilst standing in the space you were asked to raise your hand in the air, and pull them down and scream. Such a strange experience, but quite liberating really!

The final stage you were asked to take a seat in what looked similar to a dentist chair. The chair was sat infront of an individual screen and the video chosen was then played. Forcing you to watch the entirity of the video, and feel a private connection to it.

The Arsenale
Sadly during our trip Venice flooded, the highest tide in 50 years, just our luck! We were very lucky that a shop owner warned us the evening before, so we were able to buy some very stylish shoe covers. They resembled blue bin bags on our feet! Unfortunately due to the flooding we were unable to visit The Arsenale, as it had been closed due to the extreme weather conditions!

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