The press preview for the 55th edition of the Venice Biennale, the international art world’s largest stage, kicked off this week, sprawling across the narrow alleyways and watery causeways of the Italian city. Art Observed was on site to cover the opening ceremonies, and has this selection of pictures documenting the first day of the fair.
The event was initially launched early yesterday, with a press conference including Biennale President Paolo Barata and head curator Massimiliano Gioni. Discussing the fair’s long and storied history in the context of the modern day, the two openly discussed new conceptions of the Biennale in an increasingly complex and interconnected international landscape. As has been previously mentioned, this year’s edition of the fair’s main pavilion explores the idea of the Encyclopedic Palace, a building so incredibly vast in its cataloguing of knowledge so as to appear infinite. It was this model that Gioni and Barata embraced in the construction of this year’s Biennale, welcoming ever more pavilions and exhibitions alongside the main show, so as to create the illusion of an endlessly spanning city of art.
Also gone is a full emphasis on the national pavilion. While the number of nationally identified exhibitions are up to a count of 88, including first-time entries from Angola, the Bahamas, Bahrain, Ivory Coast, Kosovo, Kuwait, the Maldives, Paraguay, Tuvalu, and the Vatican City, Gioni and Barata both sought to downplay its full emphasis in the dialogue of the fair. “To identify artists by their country is a pretty depressing thing.” Gioni said. “I like artists to take me some place.” Instead, the leaders for the Biennale this year were more interested in the “geography of the artist,” shared ideas and ideals that drive the creative process, and which were openly embraced in The Encyclopedic Palace.
With the fair officially launched, visitors and press fanned across the city, visiting the main exhibitions at the Arsenale and Giardini, as well as the numerous pavilions spread across the city. Art Observed has included photographs here from many of the pavilions and spaces at the Giardini and Arsenale, as well as photographs from the event’s main exhibition.
All photographs by Sophie Kitching and Tiphaine Popesco for Art Observed