Is political art back? 56th Venice Art Biennale, Arsenale

Place: Venice, Italy
La Biennale di Venezia
Photos © Riccardo Bianchini/Inexhibit, 2015, all rights reserved


Has political art come back to Venice?  Okwui Enwezor’s Biennale – the exhibition at Corderie dell’Arsenale

Perhaps grasping the concept behind the 56th Venice Art Biennale, curated by Okwui Enwezor, could be not an easy job. For sure, politics has come back to Venice.

Taking the cue from the 1974 edition dedicated to Chile, just after Pinochet’s coup d’etat, the 2015 edition of the Biennale “All the World’s Futures” focuses on today’s society, its contradictions, economy, hopes, dramas, and conflicts.
Italian newspapers titled “Politics comes back to the Biennale” (Il Fatto Quotidiano) and “My Biennale with Marx” (La Repubblica), and there is no doubt that social criticism is the theme most represented in the exhibition at the Corderie.

Cover, Foreground: Adel Abdessemed, Nymphéas, background: Bruce Nauman (various works). Photo © Inexhibit, 2015


The Corderie entrance, on the LED screen, the 56th Biennale’s opening conference,  Enwezor is on the right. Photo © Inexhibit, 2015

Traditionally, the exhibition at the Giardini’s Central Pavilion is somehow more “institutional”, while that at the Corderie focuses on the most innovative trends of contemporary art as well as on younger artists, and this edition is no exception.

Besides works by established figures, among the many artists exhibited at the Corderie there is a consistent number of emerging artists as well as artists from countries that are often considered “marginal” in the international scene.


Terry Adkins, Muffled Drums. Photo © Inexhibit, 2015


Harun Farocki (various works). Photo © Inexhibit, 2015


Eduardo Basualdo, Alba and Grito. Photo © Inexhibit, 2015


The Propeller Group, The AK-47 vs The M16. Photo © Inexhibit, 2015

Although social, economic, and political arguments are clearly the backbone of the exhibition, such a multi-faceted approach, evident in the extreme variety of the pieces exhibited at the Corderie, both for the medium adopted, the artists’ background, age and provenance, and the themes expressed, can be by some means disorienting.
Thus, the visitors are required to take a slow pace across the sequence of rooms filled up with works, which to be honest is a common trait of most Biennales, trying to build up his personal interpretation of the Enwezor’s Biennale core theme, among the many (perhaps too many) possible.


Foreground: Ricardo Brey (various works); background: Christian Boltanski, Animitas. Photo © Inexhibit, 2015


Marco Fusinato, From the Horde to the Bee. Photo © Inexhibit, 2015


Jason Moran, Savoy Ballroom (left); Sonia Gomes (various works). Photo © Inexhibit, 2015


GLUKLYA (Natalia Pershina-Yakimanskaya), Clothes for the demonstration against false election of Vladimir Putin. Photo © Inexhibit, 2015


Im Heung-soon; Factory Complex; Rupali Gupte & Prasad Shetty, Transactional Objects.
Photo © Inexhibit, 2015


Kutluğ Ataman, The portrait of Sakip Sabanci; Chris Marker, Passengers. Photo © Inexhibit, 2015

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Venice Art Biennale 2015 – All the World’s Futures – Index

Venice Art Biennale 2015 – All the World’s Futures – Index

Venice Art Biennale 2015 – All the World’s Futures – Index

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