May you live in interesting times
Courtesy: The New York Times
Arts Speak

May you live in interesting times

Divya Menon

Divya Menon

Synonymous with romance, the Venetian gondolas and picturesque water ways of Venice have long captivated man, drawing tourists from all over the world to Venice which has more to offer than that. Since 1895, the waterlogged city has been a host to countless artists, art lovers, art critics, curators, buyers and just about anybody with a taste for the ambiguous, paradoxical world of art as presented through the world’s oldest and perhaps most important art event, the Venice Biennale!

The 58th edition of the Venice Biennale that opened its doors to the public on 11 May 2019 is the coming together of an apocryphal Chinese curse, a New York born Curator, 90 national pavilions and 79 living artists; a colossal event that has sprawled itself out across a 12th century shipyard complex called The Arsenale and a park named Giardini.

But why the twin venues? In an effort to highlight the augmented case of social disconnection brought about perhaps due to the overwhelming and exhilarating changes caused by technological developments, to draw focus to the multi-disciplinary nature of artists, the London based American Curator, former Director of the Hayward Gallery in London, Ralph Ruggoff has planned the event in such a way that each artist exhibits at both venues showcasing different models of artistic expressions that narrow down the way we look at things. Redefining perception, finding newer ways to see things, seeing what was never seen before, drawing new corridors of communication are all at the heart of this exhibition.

May you live in interesting times
Courtesy: Artsy

Historically speaking, turmoil and disturbance have often brewed great art and trapped in the title 'may you live in interesting times' is an allusion to this truth.

It was in 2011 that India first appeared at the Venice Biennale and after a hiatus of eight significant years of hard work, revisitation of artistic perception, selected Indian artists have once again showcased brilliant works of art and thought. Sending ripples of Gandhian thoughts across the Biennale is 'Our time for a future caring' curated by Rubeena Korode of the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art focusing on Gandhian values like non-violence and equality.

Breaking through the silence of photographs are Soham Gupta's protagonists - a vulnerable lot of people inhabiting Kolkota, the city of many mysteries. Dramatic and dark captures of their life in the city lends an eloquence that is otherwise unimaginable.

As the Indian pavilion continues to renew the experience that visitors take home, the wreckage of a boat that sank off the Libyan coast in 2015 by Christoff Buchel serves to question artistic sensitivity and Lara Favaretto's 'Thinking Head (2017-2019)' at the Giardini cocoons visitors in an artificial fog adding several layers of both mystery and mystic to the Biennale.

The coming weeks will further explore this enduring art event through consummate study of some of the most striking national pavilions and artists in their practice.