Anne Imhof, “Faust”; Venice Art Biennale 2017.

Fine Arts, inspirations

Anne Imhof, “Faust”; Venice Art Biennale 2017.

Top 7 highlights of the Venice Art Biennale 2017

The 57th Venice Art Biennale is curated by French-born Christine Macel from Centre Pompidou.

Her title, “Viva Arte Viva”, which sounds like a Futurist motto by Marinetti, it is an exclamation, a passionate outcry for art and the state of the artist.  It’s tricky to translate into English … you have to imagine it uttered in fervent Italian where it would signify: “Hurrah Art Hurrah!”. 

Macel has called it an Exhibition inspired by humanism.  In this type of humanism, the artistic act is contemporaneously an act of resistance, of liberation and of generosity.

There are 86 National Participations as part of this year’s Venice Biennale, so it’s nearly impossible to see them all.  I had picked out the 7 that are not to be missed.  Below is my pick of the best:


1   Roberto Cuoghi,Imitatio Christi; Venue: Italian Biennale Pavilion, Arsenale.

My favourite Biennale installation is the multimedia installation by Roberto Cuoghi. “The Imitation of Christ” investigates the transformation of matter and the fluid concept of identity through a research on the historical depiction of Christ in Italian art.  Cuoghi introduces us to an experimental process of sculpting matter, reflecting on the magical force of images, the power of repetition, and the iconographic memory of art history.  The entire process has been conceived so as never to yield the same outcome,  creating a sense of dissociation that seems to echo the present moment.

“Imitatio Christi”; Venue: Italian Biennale Pavilion, Arsenale.
Imitatio Christi, Roberto Cuoghi.

2   Anne Imhof, “Faust”; Venue: German Biennale Pavilion, Giardini.

Anne Imhof’s darkly disquieting performance installation in the German Biennale pavilion, for the most talked-about entry, which won her the Golden Lion award. 
 Anne Imhof’s sparse, glass-filled installation for her show.  The show creates tense, unspoken narratives through minimal arrangements of objects, young performers, four Doberman dogs and space itself.


3   Grisha Bruskin, “Theatrum Orbis; 
Venue: Russian Biennale Pavilion, Giardini.

The exhibition title is translated as Theatre of the World.  It takes its name from Abraham Ortelius’ atlas published in Antwerp in 1570.  Marking an epoch in the history of cartography, it was the first modern atlas to combine knowledge with experience, in the fields of science and culture which accumulated during the Age of Discovery.  Theatrical in its concept and form, the exhibition includes sculpture, installation, video and sound across three chapters.


4   Cody Choi and Lee Wan,  “Counterbalance: The Stone and the Mountain; Venue: Korean Pavilion, Giardini.

The work of Cody Choi and Lee Wan, focuses on the conflicts and dislocation that the two artists perceive in modern Korean identity.  The Korean curator, Lee Daehyung says:  “By revealing the transnational conditions of production and consumption, these two artists create works of arts that are distillations of human experience. If a stone stands for the individual, then the mountain is the societal system in which they are lodged. Through the lens of this exhibition, individual struggles may prove analogous to those of the wider contemporary world.”

Venice Art Biennale 2017
Counterbalance: The Stone and the Mountain, Cody Choi and Lee Wan.

5   Claudia Fontes, “The horse problem; Venue: Argentinian Biennale Pavilion, Arsenale.

The installation shows a bullet-time frozen scene in which a horse, a woman and a young man react in different ways to a paradox: a crisis is developing, and its symptoms are, at the same time, the problem that causes it.  “By highlighting how the destinies of the human and horse species have been intertwined through exploitation from the very moment that horses were domesticated.  The Horse Problem offers in a flash, a way to reinterpret history in a different way, a chance to construct an alternative narrative for our future as species”.  Fontes’s installation spells out her vision of the problem, but in the same way it’s up to the viewer to think of their own personal solution.


6  Michael Cole, “Hot under the collar; Venue: Biennale Pavillion of Humanity.

Michael has turned 27,000 silk neckties into an artwork which is a “silent embroidered scream” against the global patriarchy.


7   Jesse Jones, “Tremble Tremble; Venue: Irish Biennale Pavillion, Arsenale.

The piece takes its title from the 1970s Italian wages for housework movement, during which women chanted:  “Tremate, tremate, le streghe sono tornate!  (Tremble, tremble, the witches have returned!)”.  Jones’ practice crosses the media of film, performance and installation and, for her exhibition at the Biennale, she proposes the return of the witch as a feminist archetype, who has the ability to alter reality.



“Art is a space for freedom . . . an alternative to a certain kind of individualism and indifference which is the big disease of our time.”         Christine Macel


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