Spiegel-Wilks Seminar: Venice Biennale

Contemporary Art in East Asia and the World

Eda on Venice

Venice is the perfect city where global artistic discussion is materialized and we, as a temporary visitor, are allowed to experience a multitude of concepts and ideas in a condensed form. True, it is a lot to digest and one is not able to focus her attention on a single piece of work or theme. However, the Biennale is important because it allows you to grasp the contemporary context in which artists from all over the world are working within. The up-to-dateness and liveness of the Biennale is thrilling to anyone, as it gives a sense of excitement and urgency to the work being presented. The amount of perspectives brought in and the way in which all these “national” pavilions compliment and comment on each other is what makes Venice a truly international city. I realized this first as I was exploring Venice and thinking to myself that neither the people around me nor the structures and city itself felt very “Italian”. Throughout history Venice has always been the gateway between the East and West worlds, as is evident from the elaborately decorated churches and palazzos that feature Oriental styles and figures from the West and East that are interacting. Venice plays the same role today as the majority of the population in the is made up of foreigners. More than one local has complained to me that Venice was too expensive for Italians to live in, and was becoming increasingly gentrified to fit the international taste. Although the Biennale is a celebrated unification of countries and art, we must approach this ideal gathering with some skepticism. It is important also to consider what is being left out from this global discussion. Which countries have their own pavilions within the Arsanele or Giardini, where most visitors go to versus which countries are limited to side events and spaces funded by private galleries? Unfortunately, the cultural value of the art in Venice cannot escape its commercial status, as one realizes the majority of countries choose to show already established and high profile artists.    

Eda Ozuner

eozuner • October 21, 2019

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