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Venice Biennale: A virtual experience

Venice Biennale: A virtual experience June 14, 2015Leave a comment

Venice Biennale has long been considered essential viewing for anyone with more than a passing interest in contemporary art.

The biennial sprawls across the entire city and is comprised of a major curated exhibition headed by an internationally renowned curator, national pavilions and numerous satellite shows and pop-up projects.

This year history was made, as Nigerian-born Okwui Enwezor became the first curator from Africa to take on the prestigious role of curating the main exhibition with a show entitled All the World’s Futures.

Every two years the Venice Biennale is both a very efficient way of seeing lots work by the artists you admire, and an indulgent feast of art consumption, with side effects ranging from foot cramp and sweaty palms to chronic disorientation.

Once digested nothing beats the residual knowledge of having seen a selection of the best art of our time. It’s not surprising then, that the question of how to get to Venice Biennial is one posed often and with a sense of increasing panic by emerging artists, independent curators, and many non-Western countries who are not on the bankroll of well-financed galleries, institutions or governments.

The good news is that in this digital age you can never really miss anything. Information still has a habit of popping up in your inbox and cluttering your Twitter feed. To help overcome your fear of missing out, here is a selection of the best Venice Biennale digital coverage to come to my attention.

Ready to see some art? This generous posting by Blouin Art Info allows you to tour a selection of the national pavilions at the click of a mouse. This is so much more convenient than traipsing over little bridges and through gravelly courtyards, let me tell you. Joan Jonas’s They Come to Us without a Word (Bees), 2015 in the United States pavilion looks truly ethereal.

If you want to hear more from the artists and curators behind the national pavilions then I suggest checking out this great little series of Questionnaires by Art Review. Or perhaps you prefer to listen to your art news? Then this short radio broadcast from the BBC is just the trick. My personal highlight from Peace and Paranoia: digital art at the Venice Biennale is listening to renowned artist John Akomfrah discuss his new work Vertigo Sea 2015.

For some audio and visual stimulation this Guardian video tour, led by art critic Adrian Searle, is a hoot. A slightly out of breath and self-admittedly confused Searle discusses a cacophony of artwork by artists as diverse as Ibrahim Mahama, Oscar Murillo, Katharina Grosse and Sarah Lucas.

As for the opinion pieces, Chris Sharp gives an insightful and seemingly well balanced account, highlighting the curatorial and monetary excesses of the biennale in 56th Venice Biennale—Main exhibition, National Pavilions, Off-Site and Museums for Art Agenda. Taking a strategic stance against the dizzying effects of having too much to see, Michael Prodger tells us what to look out for and what to avoid.

He points out that: “Such is the volume and variety of work on display that the truly conscientious visitor would need from now until the closing date … to assess each piece as the artists would like.”

A review of All the World’s Futures arrived in the form of a Postcard from Venice pt.1 by Amy Sherlock at Frieze. Celebrating the inclusive ambition of the exhibition that attempts to address all of the world, yet candid about the inevitable failings of this fast and flattening approach to multiple histories, the text takes the reader on a journey through an exhibition that presents capitalism in overdrive and histories set to repeat.

If you manage to devour all of this yet still feel like you haven’t quite grasped who showed what to whom, then this impressively detailed run down of the main exhibition and a number of the national pavilions by Natasha Kurchanova should hit the spot. If you just read one piece about Venice Biennale, this is it.

The 56th Venice Biennale ends on November 2015.

Home page slide image credit: Armenian Pavilion, Venice Biennial 2015 via Manybits Flickr Creative Commons.
Main picture credit: Katharina Grosse, Venice Biennial 2015 via Manybits Flickr Creative Commons.


About the author

author_template - Hansi Momodu-Gordon
Hansi Momodu-Gordon

Hansi Momodu-Gordon has been active in the visual arts for the last six years as a curator, producer and writer. With degrees in English literature and curating contemporary art, she has always been interested in the power of words and images, promoting their intersecting ability to motivate positive change in society. She has published articles online and in print, largely focusing on contemporary African and Black British artists. Hansi recently launched Freehand Copy to share her copywriting, editing and research skills with artists, designers and arts organisations on a freelance basis. Hansi’s previous role was assistant curator at Tate Modern where she organised exhibitions and commissions of contemporary art, and her research centred on art from Africa and its Diaspora. She has also held curatorial positions at Turner Contemporary, Margate, and the Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos, and has curated a number of independent projects.

Find out more about Hansi Momodu-Gordon at or follow her on Twitter: @hansimomodu.

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