The 55th Biennale Di Venezia, otherwise known as the “Olympics of Contemporary Art”, is a chance for some 88 countries to showcase the latest artistic trends and much more.
In the Israeli Pavilion, artist Gilad Ratman has set up a multi-channel site-specific installation called “The Workshop”. It is based on a fictional underground trip from Israel to Venice.
“I don’t make political art in the sense that I take a stand for a specific issue, but I am dealing with the idea of resistance, and the idea of moving. Of course, where I come from it’s very relevant, but those tunnels, we have them all along the history,” says Ratman.
In the US Pavilion, Sarah Sze is showing “Triple point”, a diverse collection of elements gathered by the artist in Venice itself to illustrate the city’s beauty and frailty.
Turner Prize winner Jeremy Deller has created a six-room anti-establishment exhibition in the UK Pavilion. It features, amongst others, the hen harrier (a rare bird supposedly shot by Prince Harry in 2007) as a victim of capitalism and wealth, a theme repeated in a mural depicting Victorian designer William Morris throwing Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich’s yacht into the Venice Lagoon.
The golden rain in the ancient Greek myth of Danae inspired artist Vadim Zakharov’s work in the Russian Pavilion. Only women are allowed in to take a golden coin shower.
Beijing didn’t allow Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei to travel to Venice. But his image and work is everywhere. Like his recent heavy-metal single “Dumbass”, the installation S.A.C.R.E.D. reconstructs his 81-day detention in 2011. It features six imposing steel boxes, a series of dioramas, inside which Ai recounts in great detail scenes of his captivity.
The work was created in secret and transported from China to Venice – an interactive postcard of sorts for Ai’s 80-year-old mother Gao Ying, who visited Venice to see the work and the conditions of her son’s detention for the first time.
The Venice Biennale runs from June 1 to November 24.