Sunday, June 7, 2015

The 56th Venice Biennale & Okwui Enwezor's "All the World's Futures": May 9 - Nov 22

The Venice Biennale is incontestably the most significant exhibit I'll witness this year, possibly this decade. Spanning the months of May through November the citywide international event is currently in full swing, with this year's visual art program thematically titled "All the World's Futures". For it's 56th installment, programming director, Okwui Enwezor has assembled what looks to be a stunning spectrum of sculptural, painting and installation work, with a focus on larger scale pieces in the Biennale's Arsenale and adjacent Giardini. The top prize, the Golden Lion for Best Pavilion went to Adelina Cüberyan von Fürstenberg for her assembly of The Armenian Pavilion situated on the Island of San Lazzaro the work exploring the notion of “armenity,” which in her words encapsulates concepts of “displacement and territory, justice and reconciliation, ethos and resilience”. With Best Artist of the international exhibition going to US artist Adrian Piper, the Silver Lion for Best Young Artist awarded to South Korea's Im Heung-soon and Lifetime Achievement going to Ghana's El Anatsui. Adrian Searle navigates the miles of string, rotating trees, entire shops and spacial labyrinths describing the exhibition's view of the world’s socio-political past, present and future. Further laid out in the compendious, "Venice Biennale: The World is More than Enough" Searle along with Natasha Morris' "Iran Pavilion Goes Back to the Future" offer comprehensive coverage for The Guardian. With The New York Times' Randy Kennedy focusing on the programming's incitement to engage, "The Venice Biennale Shows its Political Stripes" and a feature detailing Joan Jonas' "Mirage" traveling to Venice after it's run at MoMA.

Enwezor's programming for "All the World's Futures" constructed around the premise of a Parliament of Forms, in which layers of the three intersecting curatorial filters; Garden of Disorder, Liveness: An Epic Duration and Reading Capital represent a constellation of parameters, through which to imagine and realize a diversity of practices. Heavily politicized, the content represented through the application of these filters have resulted in a vital cross-dialog of the political and economic. A month into the exhibition, the result has already been seen to give new life to the Situationist-like unifying of diverse fields of theoretical disciplines into a modern and comprehensive critique of the effects of Religious Fundamentalism, Oppressive Regimes, Oligarchy, Advanced Capitalism and Globalization. The Biennale's national pavilions have long-acted as cultural outposts of the countries they represent and when those countries are engaged in cultural, economic and even armed conflict with their neighbors, be it the global hotspots of the carnage in Syria or Russia's recent power grab, Venice becomes a platform for geopolitical frictions. The resulting manifestation seen in this year's Biennale range from the tensions of the Middle East to Marx-ian protest of the monetizing of art as investor's commodity to dialogs on the erosion of privacy using the very tools of the espionage industry to the wry reversal of Russia's incursion into the Ukraine.

What is arguably world’s oldest and most important international exhibition attracts an unstoppable force spanning 53 countries and 136 artists, it's character, vision and charisma, witnessed in Artforum's traverse of Venice, "Back to the Futures". And depicted in all it's pictorial glory by The Boston Globe's Big Picture, highlighting "Untitled Trumpet" by German artist Katharina Grosse, "The End of Carrying All" by Kenyan's Wangeti Mutu, the massive sculptural works of Russia's Irina Nakhova, "Speculating on the Blue" an installation by Flaka Haliti, a new video-opera by British filmmaker Peter Greenaway, "Occupations/Discoveries" by Brazilian artist Antonio Manuel, the 9,216 LCD panels of the "The Portrait of Sakip Sabanci" video installation by Turkey's Kutlug Ataman, the cavernous crepuscular space of Japan's Chiharu Shiota's and her installation "The Key in the Hand", "They Come to US Without a Word" video installation by Joan Jonas, 'The Green Mirror' paintings by British artist Chris Ofili, the massive 'Untitled' paintings of Germany's Georg Baselitz, "Reisefieber" by Polish artist Dorota Nieznalska at the 'Dispossession' exhibition at the Palazzo Dona Brusa, the courtyard of the the historic Palazzo Pisani Conservatory overflowing with Shigeru Ban's ephemeral "Pavilion of Light and Sound", the immersive spacial and liquid environments of "Our Product" by Pamela Rosenkranz, "Revolutions" by French artist Celeste Boursier-Mougenot, "Giardino dell'Eden" by Portugal's Joana Vasconcelos, new installations by Italy's Marzia Miglior, the immersive video installation "Factory of the Sun" by German artist Hito Steyerl and "Haiti 18°48'05'N 72°23'01'W'" a panoramic film projection by C.T. Jasper and Joanna Malinowska. To cite just a few, of the multitudinous works on offer.