Tag Archives: arsenale

The Biennale 2015 # 1: Giardini and Arsenale

Amazing, warm, enigmatic, beautiful and full of symbolism – the boats and the thousands of keys hanging in millions of red threads. There you go: Shiharo Shiota ‘”Key In The Hand” at the Japanese pavilion – one of the best pieces at the 2015 Venezia Biennale!


One of the two boats by Shiota – All photos below © Jan Oberg 2015

I’ve been to all the Biennales since 2007. My admittedly very subjective view – and what else could it be? – is that this year’s is far from the best. It’s overarching title is “All The World’s Futures” and it has three filters – 1) Garden of Disorder; 2) Liveness: On Epic Duration and 3) Reading Capital.” It is curated by Okwui Enwezor, Nigeria.

A very long art work at Arsenale

A very long art work at Arsenale – having to do with world trade in cocoa – stamped “Ghana Cocoa Board” – and slavery?

It takes place at three places in Venice – the Giardini space (29 pavilions), the Arsenale space (31 national pavilions plus lots of single artists) and all over town in the so-called Collateral Events accepted by the curator.

This year it has a record 89 participating countries and over 150 artists. Many see the bi-annual Venice Art Biennale – now in its 56th year as the world art event.

Fiona Hall: Wrong Way Time, the inaugural exhibition in the new Australian Pavilion, attracted 287,690 visitors

Fiona Hall: Wrong Way Time, the inaugural exhibition in the new Australian Pavilion, attracted 287,690 visitors – a very inventive idea – politically and aesthetically executed. Full of engaging objects and ideas, making you think…and wonder… and feel enriched.

And of course it is fascinating. Its diversity is completely impossible to convey to anyone who has not been there. It’s  been going on from May 9-November 22, 2015 – and I am here in Venice the last 7 days – to explore and learn as much as I possibly can and with pleasantly few visitors in Venice.

I write this first of two articles midways, Continue reading

The Venice Biennale & Venice – Hurry up!

November 27 is the last day, so you’ve got a month to go there. And it’s well worth it. The connoiseurs may have their sophisticated views of what is really happening now, what the significant trends are, etc. I’d say instead: Go there without any preconceived ideas, take in as much as you can. There is so much inspiration in so many directions that you can hardly return home without feeling it was worth the time, energy and costs (on the latter, Venice hotels and restaurants charge at least double rates while the Biennale is on, so…).

It is simply impossible to write about it, so sorry for this short attempt to defy the impossible! There are the official, enormous Biennale spaces at Giardini and the Arsenale. But then – without much co-operation or even communication with the Biennale management, it seems – there are art events all over town at museums galleries, art institutions, in abandoned flats, backyards and in the streets. My wife and I spent about 8 hours per day for a week and we probably saw only a fraction.


© Jan Oberg 2011

That’s Venice and the Biennale* – enormous, weird, overwhelming, frustrating, enigmatic, and simultaneously an incredible positive documentation of multi-cultural creation in a globalizing world. In the midst of wars, environmental decay, deep economic crisis and all the rest, it simply gives me hope to walk around at the Venice Biennale and in the rest of town.

I believe it should be OK to write about it in a totally subjectve but positive manner and with an emphasis on what attracted me in general and as a photographer in particular. So I’ll simply tell you what made a lasting impression on me – lasting because it is more than a month ago I visited Venice and I find that some things have stayed with me while others are now more or less forgotten. If you’ve been there, can we compare notes?

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