June 2, 2015

Highlights at the 2015 Biennale di Venezia


Fog drifting in a flooded room, a spiderweb in fire-engine red yarn, and videos of children in landscapes—these are just a few arresting visuals from the 56th International Art Exhibition at la Biennale di Venezia, one of the industry’s largest biannual art events.

Held in various venues around Venice, Italy through November 22, the Biennale kicked off a month earlier this year. Entitled “All the World’s Futures,” the 2015 edition is curated by Nigerian art critic Okwui Enwezor and boasts 89 participating countries and nearly 140 artists.

One of the most visually stunning exhibits is “Crossing the Tide” at the Tuvalu Pavilion, by Taiwanese artist Vincent J. F. Huang and curated by Dr. Thomas Berghuis. To direct attention towards climate change and underline both the small island nation of Tuvalu’s and Venice’s historical battle with rising tides, Huang created the Biennale’s first ever flooded pavilion, with partially submerged wood footbridges, water, fog, video, and projections.

Berlin-based artist Chiharu Shiota created an installation of stretched red yarn—each strand with a dangling vintage key—suspended from the ceiling for “The Key in the Hand” on view at the Japan PavilionBeneath the yarn and the keys are two storm-weary boats, symbolizing vessels prepared to catch the memories the keys represent.

Videos of children in landscapes and the topic of ghosts are the focus of “They Come to Us Without a Word (Mirrors)” on view at the U.S. Pavilion. New York artist and MIT professor Joan Jonas conceived eight video installations—filling all five galleries—and paired them with Murano artisan-made rippled mirrors she designed herself, drawings, kites, and props from the videos.

A facade of used tires clads the facade and brings a distinctive recognizable odor to the Israeli Pavilion, as part of the exhibit “Archeology of the Present” by artist Tsibi Geva. Inside, Geva showcases his paintings and sculptural installations of objects reflecting on the idea of home.

Two exhibits are on view at the Iran Pavilion, the country’s largest yet, curated by Marco Meneguzzo and Mazdak Faiznia. “The Great Game” examines the idea of territory and the struggle over land in Central Asia with work from some 40 artists. “Iranian Highlights,” focuses on four contemporary Iranian artists: Samira Alikhanzadeh, Mahmoud Bakhshi Moakhar, Jamshid Bayrami and Mohamed Ehsai, and work includes a family portrait-style painting by Alikhanzadeh, with the eyes of all the family members except the youngest blocked out.

Despite its name, every room in the exhibit “The Green Pavilion” by Irina Nakhova and curated by Margarita Tupitsyn at the Russia Pavilion is painted a different color. On the main floor is a large futuristic head with pilot’s helmet, breathing apparatus, and goggles. Nakhova’s face projected inside the helmet winks at both the powerful position and the helplessness of the artist within a harsh environment.

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