Thursday, June 9, 2011


Filled with rich and captivating shows to write home to New York about, the Venice Biennale 2011 enters its 54th year in full art force.  For starters: the Starn brothers from New York have retired their Big Bambú installation from the top of the MET—planting their Bambú skills on Venetian Biennale soil. (View featured slide show via ikonotv for a glimpse.)

This year the Biennale is featuring a multitude of first-time-presenters—from countries like Iran, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia.  Perhaps the biggest international art event of the year, la Biennale 2011 is entitled: IILLUMInazioni (Illuminations)—deemed by the director of the prestigious art event, Bice Curiger  . "The title of the 54th Exhibition, ILLUMInations literally draws attention to the importance of such developments in a globalized world. I am particularly interested in the eagerness of many contemporary artists to establish an intense dialogue with the viewer, and to challenge the conventions through which contemporary art is viewed."

Ms. Curiger also separates the world nations in ILLUMInations—to underscore the growing participation and innovation brought on by the growing global art community.  This means: collectively, the shows are creating an even broder conversation— amongst the array of multinational artists who've come to present in Venice.

The 54th Biennale Curator has chosen to feature 83 artists.  Have a watch at the video (right via VernissageTV) spotlighting the following artists' exhibits in the Giardini Arsenale (Garden Armories): Monica Bonvicini, Song Dong, Urs Fischer, Monica Sosnowska, Yto Barrada, Christian Marclay, Nicholas Hlobo, Roman Ondak, among others.  

Even with all the grandiosity hype of the wide selection this time around—along side some of the art newbies and new voices flourishing everywhere as the talk to of La Biennale town, the American Pavilion doesn't fall short of impressive concepts to introduce.  And we're not talking about your typical stereotyped American-feel-good-references either.  

The Art Biennale USA, showing at the American Pavilion, is represented by two artists: Allora and Calzadilla—both are Puerto Rican American based artists.  The exhibition is made up of six new projects, called Gloria—as in Glory: using art to highlight America's competitiveness in nature, particularly in sports as well as in military power. Hence, perhaps the most striking piece being, Track and Field: a treadmill—running on top of a tank—and used by American Olympic runner Dan O'Brien.  

Apparently, the two artists were able to sign up a group of American Olympic athletes to play their sports—in the form of conceptual art—translated as live performance art.  We don't want to spoil it for you, but there's a diminutive Armed Freedom Statue getting a tan, plane parts from Business Class nevertheless, and a musical ATM.  All the while, these concepts are meant to provoke questions like: What makes an American? and Who decides how we define America?  Such relevant topics are currently being debated everyday in this country, and perhaps one of the disabling roadblocks that is preventing the U.S. to save itself at this very moment. 

Have a watch at the video (right) to see for yourself and to learn more about Gloria.  ILLUMinazioni opened this passed weekend.  The Venice Biennale is open from 10am - 7pm, ongoing until November 7, 2011.

Just like last year, there's an iPhone app called iBiennale available at the iTunes store (pictured top left).  So be sure to download the app gratis, so you can keep yourself posted on all the updates and news for the biggest art show of the year all'Italia.

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