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All the World’s Futures – 56th Venice Biennale

Last week I attended the press opening for the 56th Venice Biennale international art exhibition. The Biennale is a bi-annual international art and architectural exhibition which alternates between featuring art and architecture each year. The main Biennale Giardini (garden) features several international pavilions showcasing art from various countries, while Venetian palaces turned cultural institutions in and around the city host ancillary curated exhibitions. There’s so much to see – the 4 days I spent wasn’t enough, but here’s some highlights.

Evocative performance artists often appear near the exhibitions.

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Immersive spaces using lo-fi materials seemed to trump paintings and photography.

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Katharina Grosse

Untitled Trumpet 2015, in the Arsenale

We saw fresh and engaging video art – including this faux astronaut costume made from de-commissioned Zimbabwean dollars.

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Gerald Machona

Ndiri Afronaut (I am an Afronaut), 2012

Another favourite video art installation in the US pavilion – several rooms of layered video and projection from Joan Jonas.

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Joan Jonas

They Came to Us Without a Word, 2015

A few commercial brands invested in artist installation works as well. This glittering structure is comprised of over a 1,000 Shiseido make-up compacts.

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In addition to the artwork in and around the pavilions, the architecture and site-specific interventions were equally engaging.

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Camille Normen

Rapture, site specific installation, Nordic Pavilion 2015

Gauging from the Instagram coverage, the immersive suspended key installation featured in the Japanese pavilion was possibly the most popular work in the Biennale.

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Chiharu Shiota

The Key in the Hand, in the Japanese Pavilion

The Ways of Folding Space & Flying by Moon Kyungwon and Jeon Joonho in the Korean pavilion, was a futuristic fantasy multi-channel video installation in and outside the pavilion. The project is beautifully cinematic with its captivating sci-fi content and stylised high production value.

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Angled layers of low-height damaged walls recreates the point of view of a child within an urban landscape.

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Antonio Manuel

Occupations/Discoveries site-specific installation in the Brazil pavilion

The most surprising and outstanding work, in my opinion, is Hito Stereyl’s Factory of the Sun in the German Pavillion. A slick Tron-like environment, wherein one sits on lounge chairs watching a game narrative told from the point of view of the programmer – it moves from behind the scenes footage of the motion capture studio ‘slaves’ to faux news clips about the game characters shooting down the Deutsche bank drone… Creating a spectacular, fun and very relevant experience.

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The Venice Biennale runs through the end of November. I highly recommend attending.

All photos ©Ela Boyd

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