Venice Survival Guide #2

Catherine Lorent "Relegation" for the Luxembourg Pavilion at the 55th International Art Exhibition © Photos: Rémi Villaggi

As the Preview of the 55th Venice Biennale approaches (barely one week to go), the Bigs Team gets busy scheduling one of their most important dates with the arts in a broader international context. As a result, we have started our very own “Venice Survival Guide“ that will attempt to make it reasonably easier for you to navigate through the island sailed by gondolas.

In the midst of an era of global crisis, the international exhibition paradoxically expands its grounds, including plenty of locations scattered throughout the city, and increases the number of participant countries up to 88, counting ten new additions: Angola, the Bahamas, the Kingdom of Bahrain, Ivory Coast, the Republic of Kosovo, Kuwait, the Maldives, Paraguay, Tuvalu (a hexagon-shaped Polynesian island nation) and... the Holy See. This is by far, the most extensive Biennale ever held in its altogether 110 years of existence.

And as we get ready for the Preview (29th, 30th and 31st of May), we would like to announce our pre-highlights, the Pavilions that we are most curious to see and also those that represent Berlin in some way or another.
As an extra tip: this app could also be helpful to find your way in Venice by mapping venues and scheduling visits to events during your stay.



Il Palazzo Enciclopedico

The core exhibition of this Biennale curated by Massimiliano Gioni is distributed between the Central Pavilion at the Giardini and the Arsenale, displaying works spanning over the past century alongside several new commissions, including over 150 artists coming from 37 countries.

The idea of an “encyclopedic palace” is inspired by a dream sketched by Marino Auriti for a 136 story-tall building, a palace conceived to archive all the wordly knowledge in the city of Washington. This project was never carried out, reimaining an unrealized project; an utopia, and the spark for the concept of a rather idealist exhibition, that presents itself as a a mental architecture resembling Auriti's project..

Il Palazzo Enciclopedico opens in the Central Pavilion with a presentation of Carl Gustav Jung’s Red Book, while in the halls of the Arsenale, the exhibition is organized as a progression from natural to artificial forms, following the typical layout of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century cabinets of curiosities; as a sort of baroque proto-museums. Also at the center of the Arsenale, Cindy Sherman curates a section of the exhibition; a show within the show where we can expect a lot of manniquenesque creepiness i.e. Hans Bellmer, Morton Morton Bartlett, and some outsider art made by prison inmmates. Something that goes very well  the inextricably obscure and wonderful character of this show. Being also partially influenced by occultism within its anthropologic / anthroposophic nature, there is also room for names of some personalities not neccesarily trained as artists in a classic way, such as Rudolf Steiner, Aleister Crowley and Frieda Harris.

On the performative level, Tino Sehgal is presenting a new piece in smaller scale than his most recent works, yet promisingly intense. Other outdoor installations and performances include Ragnar Kjartansson's  ongoing musical performance with a sextet of horn players on a boat and John Bock babelesque enacment called “House of Maggots”. And by the way, Berlin is clearly sending some of their best ambassadors to this exhibition: Tacita Dean, Harun Farocki or Hito Steyerl are also to be found in this exhibit.

In addition to this ambitious international temporary exhibition, there are also the established Pavilions, an encapsuled dose of contemporaneity as portrayed by each participant nation.The historical gardens will present 28 National Pavilions this year

Mathias Poledna
What to expect: attractive film installations combining art with the language of modernity
14.00 Press Conference
15.30 Opening reception (invitation only)

more info

Berlinde De Bruyckere, Cripplewood
The artist has conceived an eerie sculptural site-specific intallation intimately connected to the historical background of the city. Curated by Nobel Prize of Literature J.M. Coetzee
17.00 Opening Reception

Hélio Fervenza, Odires Mlászho, Lygia Clark, Max Bill, Bruno Munari

Tropicalism meets geommetry. Brazilian artists from different generations, along with a Bauhaus artist, shown together in a project that takes the Möbius strip as a study case

Shary Boyle, Music for Silence
Working in a variety of media including drawing, painting, sculpture, installation and performance, Boyle is one of Canada's most acclaimed artists
13.30 Press Preview

16.00 Opening Reception
more info

Jesper Just, Intercourses
This "multi-channel filmic odyssey and architectural intervention" created in collaboration with New Yorkers Project Projects will integrate film, digital communications and a special architectural intervention on the neoclassical-turned-modernist Danish Pavilion
29.05 16.00 Opening Preview
more info

Falling Tress will be presented as two solos: one by Terike Haapoja housed at the Nordic Pavilion, and the other by Antti Laitinen at the Finnish Aalto Pavilion.
29.05 15.00 Reception at Biennale Cafe
30.05 20.00 Openig Party @ Teatro San Gallo, San Marco 1097. Live music by Phantom. Free entry
02.07 16.00 and 03.07 10.30 Olives and Stones performance by Other Spaces, meeting point at the Finnish Alvar Aalto Pavilion
more info

Ai Weiwei, Romuald Karmakar, Santu Mofokeng, Dayanita Singh

Curator Susanne Gaensheimer has invited four international artists who are associated to the German scene in a way or another, either by being or having been working here or by being in close relation to a German institution, cultural organization
29.05 11.00 Press Conference
14.00 Opening Reception
Note that the German and French Pavilions have swapped houses for this edition!
more info

Kimsooja, To Breathe: Bottari
Don't expect to see or hear too much inside this installation because here is all about the experience. The show consists of an anechoic chamber, a space that absorves all the audio waves, and leaves the visitors in complete darkness confronting the sounds of their own bodies.
more info

Alexandra Pirici, Manuel Pelmuş, An immaterial retrospective of the Venice Biennale
Ambitious and meta-referential, this project attempts to sum up the entire history of the Biennale and reflect it in Romania's national pavilion in means of performance.
29.05 16:15 Opening Reception
more info

Vadim Zakharov, Danaë

A leading figure of Moscow Conceptualism, Vadim Zakharov is not new at the Giardini. For the second time representing Russia, his show has been curated by Udo Kittelmann, curator of the Nationalgalerie in Berlin.
more info

Lara Almárcegui

Lara Almárcegui researches and documents the city and its multiple faces: urban landscapes, ruins, lots, abandoned spaces... an allegory of the current state of crisis in Spain that also rhymes with the complexity of the urban area of Venice
31.05 12.30 Opening Reception

Venezuelan Urban Artists Collective, Urban Art. The Aesthetics of Subversion
Juan Calzadilla has curated a show for which no individual names has been released, stressing in this way the participatory and collaborative nature of the concept behind this project


The former Arsenale, a complex of shipyards and armories rebuilt in its original Byzantine style after suffering severe damage during the Napoleonic rule, hosts no less than other 24 pavilions during the current edition, in addition to the other 28 located at the Giardini and some other 36 scattered around the city.

Tavares Strachan, Polar Eclipse
A 14-­channel video and sound installation and a selection of neon-­light works recreating the expeditions of Robert Peary and Matthew Alexander Henson to the North Pole in 1909
13.00 Press Preview

more info

Alfredo Jaar, Venezia, Venezia
The artist, architect, and filmmaker has prepared a new site-specific installation for the Chilean Pavilion that we are quite keen to visit after seeing his multiple exhibition in Berlin last summer.
17.00 Opening Reception

more info

oO, Lia Haraki, Maria Hassabi, Phanos Kyriacou, Constantinos Taliotis, Natalie Yiaxi, Morten Norbye Halvorsen, Jason Dodge, Gabriel Lester, Dexter Sinister, Gintaras Didžiapetris, Elena Narbutaite, Liudvikas Buklys, Kazys Varnelis, Vytaute Žilinskaite
A plurinational project curated by Raimundas Malašauskas (The Hypnotic Show) in a large scale exhibition combining artists from various generations from both countries but also including contributions by international artists
Address: Palasport “Giobatta Gianquinto”, Castello Calle San Biagio 2132
30.05 17.00 Opening Reception
16.06  Calisthenics festival
more info

Kamikaze Loggia

Kamikaze Loggia, Tbilisi 2007, Photo: Levan Asabashvili/Urban Reactor

Bouillon Group, Thea Djordjadze, Nikoloz Lutidze, Gela Patashuri with Ei Arakawa and Sergei Tcherepnin, Gio Sumbadze
Joanna Warsza is no new at curating in Biennales. This edition's Georgian Pavilion presents itself as a parasitic extension to an old building in the Arsenale, resembling a typical architectonical solution from Tbilisi, the Kamikaze Loggia, inside of which we'll find a critical look at the social, political and ideological discourses of the last twenty years in Georgia
29.-31.05 Daily performances by by Bouillon Group, Nikoloz Lutidze and Gela Patashuri with Ei Arakawa and Sergei Tscherepnin
17.15 Opening Reception

more info


The most discussed and media-covered of the new additions is the Santa Sede. Yes, The Vatican is indeed participating in this Biennale with some contemporary art based on the book of Genesis that will be familiar to those familiar with the works of Michelangelo for the Sistine Chapel in Rome.
The pavilion is located at the Sale d'Armi, which are spaces that the Biennale is restoring in order to convert them into permanent pavilions


Vice Versa
Francesco Arena, Massimo Bartolini, Gianfranco Baruchello, Elisabetta Benassi, Flavio Favelli, Luigi Ghirri, Piero Golia, Francesca Grilli, Marcello Maloberti, Fabio Mauri, Giulio Paolini, Marco Tirelli, Luca Vitone, Sislej Xhafa
Bartolomeo Pietromarchi, director of the Museum of Contemporary Art of Rome (MACRO), is responsible for the curatorial challenge that resulted in this year's innovative approach for an Italian Pavilion. Taking upon Giorgio Agamben's "Categorie italianeStudi di Poetica", Vice Versa articulates seven dialogues between pairs of artists, each confrontated in a different room, thus revisiting the history and complexity of the Italian reality as if in a trip through the look of art.
17.30 Opening Reception

Tese delle Vergini at Arsenale
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Petrit Halilaj will represent the Republic of Kosovo for their first appearance in the international art exhibition.
29.05 16.30 Opening Ceremony


Catherine Lorent, Relegation (see cover picture)

Visual artist, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and Berlin darling Catherine Lorent represents the Great Duchy of Luxembourg with Relegation, a sound installation composed of 13 electric guitars, 3 grand pianos and stage designs that will definitely rock.

30.05 20.00 Opening Reception
Ca’ del Duca, Corte del Duca Sforza, San Marco 3052


Dénes Farkas, Evident in Advance
Taking inspiration from Bruce Duffy’s ground-breaking novel "The World As I Found It", and articulated as a deconstructed version of the novel, the Estonian Pavilion reflects on language, translation and its infinite possibilities within a strong philosophical background
Venue: Palazzo Malipiero, San Marco 3199 2nd Floor, San Samuele
17.00 Opening, cocktail reception at Palazzo Malipiero Rose Garden with live performances by Maria Minerva and KroOt Juurak (invitation only).
more info

Welcome to Iraq
Abdul Raheem Yassir, Akeel Khreef, Ali Samiaa, Bassim Al-Shaker, Cheeman Ismaeel, Furat al Jamil, Hareth Alhomaam, Jamal Penjweny, Kadhim Nwir, WAMI (Yaseen Wami, Hashim Taeeh)
An exhibition showcasing a wide range of media, including photography, drawing, painting, video, installation, sculpture, and textiles by eleven contemporary Iraq-based artists and articulated in a sort of lounge area where the visitor is invitated to sit and have a tea with biscuits. It will definitely help us to process all the information that we are constantly receiving in all these shows
Ca’ Dandolo, San Polo 2879, San Tomà
more info


Richard Mosse, The Enclave

We are already quite familiar with his photographic works in Berlin, but for the Irish Pavilion he has prepared a new multi-media installation consisiting of highly immersive five-screens made in collaboration with cinematographer Trevor Tweeten, composer Ben Frost and film editor Melody London
30.05 16.30 Press conference and opening reception (invitation only)
Fondaco Marcello, San Marco, Calle dei Garzoni 3415
more info

El Atlas del Imperio
Inspired by an allegoric idea referred to cartography from Jorge Luis Borges' book "Del rigor en la ciencia", this extensive show focuses on the geopolitical relations established within contemporary arts based on its experiences of connecting both Latin American and European artists.
Just to drop a few participants' names: Juliana Stein, David Zink Yi, Harun Farocki & Antje Ehmann, Christian Jankowski
more info

Front Door out back
Presenting the installation works of Bill Culbert, a veteran of light-based experimental and conceptual art who has been active since the sixties
29.05 17.00 Opening Reception (RSVP requested)
Santa Maria della Pietà, Castello
more info

This Pavilion hosts two countries:
Beware of the Holy Whore: Edvard Munch, Lene Berg and the Dilemma of Emancipation
An exhibition that displays a series of lesser known works by Edvard Munch in in addition to a newly commissioned film by Lene Berg, Ung Løs Gris (Dirty Young Loose, 2013)
Falling Trees (complementing the works by Antti Laitinen in the Aalto Pavilion), Terike Haapoja
The pavilion has been transformed into a research laboratory, a space for an open dialogue between art, natural science and environmental ethics.
Galleria di Piazza San Marco, Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa
28.05 12.00 - 14.00 Press Preview
more info

Portable Nation
Disappearance as Work in Progress – Approaches to Ecological Romanticism
Another newby Pavilion that makes a big entrance with an extensive group show
Paul Miller aka DJ Spooky, Thierry Geoffrey aka Colonel, Gregory Niemeyer, Stefano Cagol, Hanna Husberg, Laura McLean & Kalliopi Tsipni-Kolaza, Khaled Ramadan, Moomin Fouad, Mohamed Ali, Sama Alshaibi, Patrizio Travagli, Achilleas Kentonis & Maria Papacaharalambous, Wooloo, Khaled Hafez, Ursula Biemann, Heidrun Holzfeind & Christoph Draeger, Klaus Schafler
Gervasuti Foundation, Via Garibaldi, Fondamenta Sant’Anna, Castello 995

Ariel Guzik, Cordiox
The site of the Mexican Pavilion plays a key role for Guzik's sound experiments. It is no coincidende that the artist has stressed its accoustic assets, after having Vivaldi himself previously rehearsed in this room, and Luigi Nono presented  his opera Prometeo.
For this show, Guzik has elaborated a 4 meter tall machine with 180 strings divided in three harps that generate crystaline expansive sounds that propagate in the space.
22.30 Mexican Fiesta with DJ Tacostán

29.-31.05, 17.30-18.30 Private tour and Bruxo mezcal tasting with the artist and curator
Ex-Chiesa di San Lorenzo Castello 5069 Cap. 30122
more info

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