Venice 2017 Biennial: Viva Arte Viva...


07/03/17 - Every two years, the Italian city of Venice houses the Art Biennial and this year its curator, Christine Macel (Centre Pompidou), baptized the most awaited art exhibition of the year with the title "Viva Arte Viva". In Macel's words, the name was chosen as a mantra for a world shaken by terrorism, economic meltdown and the drama of the refugees. For her, art plays a key role as a space to offer reflection and the individual expression of dreams and utopias.
Thus the 15.000 sq-meters of the Arsenale and the Giardini are occupied with the works of 120 artists invited to participate in one of the nine curatorial cores or trans-pavilions, as called by Macel. From the Pavilion of the Artists to the Pavilion of Time and Infinity, these nine areas pretend to offer an experience of connection between visitors and artists, a synergy of positive energy, focused mainly around the younger artists.
The first space opens at the Giardini with the Pavilion of Artists and Books. We find here a constant subject which is that of laziness, which Macel considers fundamental in all creative process. In this same station, Philippe Parreno represents his own studio, a zone of experimentation between people and objects, created with the use of electromagnetic fields. Away from Parreno's sophistication, Raymond Hains presents two supermarket carts with objects from his everyday life as an artist and gardener.
The artist in Asleep, by Yelena Vorobyeva ans Viktor Vorobyev (1996)
Mixed technique - instalation

Cloud Oktas, by Philippe Parreno (2017)
Les jardineries du Sud, by Raymond Hains
Mixed technique - Installation
Arsenale is more challenging for visitors than Giardini. The space is larger so the curator grouped here seven of her nine pavilions. The first one is the Pavilion of the Common and it displays the only works with political criticism. We see Lee Mingwel with "The Mending Project", an installation-interaction in which donated pieces of clothing are fixed. But there's also Argentine artist Martin Cordiano with "Common Places", a walk-in maze inhabited by two or three individuals represented by balls, which are connected between each other. While the first artwork represents an invitation to recycle, the other reflects on the lack of sense of intellectual property.

The Mending Project, by Lee Mingwei (2009 – 2017)
Mixed technique - Interactive installation

Common Places, by Martin Cordiano (2017)
Materials: plaster balls, wood, boards.
The Earth Pavilion is centered in the environment, its animals, the planetary utopias, observations and dreams. There's a tribute to Nicolás García Uriburu, who was visited by the curator but unfortunately passed away and could not see the Biennial. A series of photographs remember the moment in which the artist colored with green the waters of the canals during the 1968 Biennial.
Green Venice, by Nicolás García Uriburu (1968)
Technique: pastel on photographs.
In the same station we find two artists that represent animals in a very particular way. Some giant dragonflies and an abstract turtle mingle with tree trunks made of wax. 

Turtle, by Erika Verzutti
Materials: paper mache, iron structure, polystyrene, ceramic, oil and varnish

Do you realice there is a rainbow even if it’s night?, by Petrit Halilaj (2017)
Materials: Qilim, Dyshek, Jan carpets from Kosovo, polyester, brass.
The Red Rubber, by Thu Van Tran (2017)
Materials: wax, rubber, gesso
At the Pavilion of Tradition, modernity seeks to break apart from traditions, althrough many contemporary artists revisit with interest the past of their cultures. Commonly, in some Eastern countries, when a porcelain piece broke, it was reconstructed using a precious metal, such as gold. Korean artist Yee Sookyung deconstructs traditional jars, using that antique technique. 
Translated Vase_Nine Dragons in Wonderland, by Yee Sookyung (2017)
Marcel Duchamp used the term "Shaman" to refer to artists and maybe now we might give art healing powers. Among the artists on display at the Pavilion of Shamans, a space mostly dedicated to performances, Brazilian artist Ernesto Neto stands out. But we must also mention Indian artist Rina Banerjee, who created a series of very powerful flowers.

Rina Banerjee
The curator decided to dedicate the Dionisyan Pavilion to female artists. We find there Pauline Curnier Jardin with a monstruos hand that leads visitors to an enclosed space. There we see a projection of a video about the teenage life of a renown figure of Catholicism. Plus Cuban artists Zilia Sánchez presents breasts and vaginas in admirable abstract composition.

Grotta Profunda, Approfundita, by Pauline Curnier Jardin (2011- 2017)

Las Troyanas Eros y Las Amazonas, by Zilia Sanchez
Technique: acrylic on canvas
The Pavilion of Colors is almost childish after the previous pavilions. However, the curator describes it as the fireworks before the end and this is what we see in Giorgio Griffa's painting, he being a representative of Italian Arte Povera. The pavilion closes with a wall completely covered by knitted pieces made by Sheila Hicks, a true burst of color.
Canone Aureo 958 (Agnes Martin), by Giorgio Griffa (2016)
Technique: acrylic on canvas

Escalada Beyond Chromatic Lands, by Sheila Hicks (2016-2017)
Mixed technique, natural fiber.
The exhibition comes to an end at the Pavilion of Time and Infinity with a reflection on Time, its variation, disappearence and death. It's a unique place, almost metaphysical, where visual art interacts with conceptual art. We find here an installation by Argentine artist Liliana Porter, quite similar to the one she presented a few years ago at the MALBA in Buenos Aires. 
We must also mention Liu Jianhua's incredible bubbles, made with porcelain mixed unevenly with big drops of gold. They look like mercury. According to the explanatory signs, Liu wants these drops to look like suspended in time, like the thoughts of our mind. Finally, Alicja Kwade presents a series of mirrors and stones in a perspective confusion. We are asked to move around them and it is our intervention that completes the installation.

El hombre con el hacha y otras situaciones breves, by Liliana Porter (2017)
Mixed technique - Installation

Square, by Liu Jianhua (2014)
Material: porcelain

WeltenLinie, by Alicja Kwade (2017)
Materials: steel, mirror, stones, bronze, aluminium
"Viva Arte Viva" it's about artists and the works they produce. It's a mystic, spiritual and emotional exhibition. It reflects on what it means to push the boundaries and be an artist today. 

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Liliana Wrobel

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Carla Mitrani