Viva Arte Viva!, Venice biennale

 

 

Anri Sala, “All of a Tremble”, 2016

 

 


Viva Arte Viva is organised in 86 National Pavilions at the Giardini, at the Arsenale and in the historic city centre of Venice.The Exhibition also includes nine trans-pavilions distributed in the Arsenal and the Central Pavilion, project curated by Christine Macel. Each of them focuses on one theme: the pavilion of artists and books, of joys and fears, of the common, of the earth, of traditions, of shamans, the dionysian pavilion, of colours, of time and infinity. The 86 pavilions of participating countries, each with its own curator, which will once more bring to life the pluralism of voices, have followed the guidelines suggested by Christine Macel and have accepted the invitations to participate in joint programs.

 

 

 

Vajiko Chachkhiani, `Living Dog Among Dead Lions´, 2017

 

 


Lots of proposals capture the attention of the public in the Biennale, from a crashed van into the floor (by Erwum Wurm) to a cabin where rain cannot stop (Vajiko Chachkhiani). Visitors will find artworks that show the importance of earth, traditions or the collective, like the Chilean video artist Juan Downey (Chile, 1940- New York, 1993), that reveals against eurocentric gaze by making the members of the Yanomani tribe create his video, using one of his cameras. Or spaces where huge installations can be observed, such as the textile artist Sheila Hicks (Nebraska, 1934) one, that fill with wool the back of the pavilion. Other proposals connect with sensorial field, like the one by Anri Sala (Albania, 1974), that reflects on sculptural properties of sound through the synaesthetic relationship between it and the vision. His piece consists on a music box that decorates a whole wall with random patterns while it sounds. In addition, there are poetic performances like `One thousand and One Night´, where Edith Dekyndt (Belgium, 1960) rebuilt a dust square in the floor without stopping. He has to be aware of a projected light over it in order to bring them into line one with each other.

 

 

 

Juan Downey, `The Laughing Alligator´, 1979

 

 

 

Among the national pavilions in Giardini is the Spanish one, with the proposal `¡Únete! Join Us!´, by Jordi Colomer, where he reflects on the public space and how to make it ours. It is a vindication of collective and spontaneous nomadism, symptom that refugees and displaced people suffer nowadays. His proposal consists on a miniature city in the previous room and a series of video pieces that show migrations and cities on movement.

 

 

 

Edith Dekyndt, `One thousand and One Night´, 2017

 

 

 

It has to be emphasized that most of the artists are participating for the first time (103 of 120), the same as countries like Antigua and Barbuda, Kiribati and Nigeria. The German artist Franz Erhard Walther (Fulda, 1939), known for his huge and participative sculptures made of fabrics, has been awarded as the best artist in the official exhibition. This artist is currently exhibiting his artwork in Velázquez Palace, in Madrid, until the 10th of Septembre.

 

 

 

Jordi Colomer, `Join Us! Únete!', 2017

 

 

 

The Venice Biennale offers during the months is taking place selected collateral events promoted by non-profit national and international institutions. They present their exhibitions and initiatives in palaces, museums, churches and public spaces. The city will host plenty of artistic proposals during the 57th Exhibition.

 

 

 

James Lee Bryars, `Gold Tower´, 2017

 

 

 

Among the specialised professional profiles that we find in the cultural sector, and more specifically, in the field of visual arts, one of the most recent occupations is that of the curator. The ‘80s put attention on the role of the artist, with its innovative character and the enhancement of its figure as an essential articulator of creative proposals, while the end of the century moved the interest towards the exhibition centres themselves and their work as custodians of current production and as spaces to accommodate all proposals. The change of millennium strongly introduced in this panorama the role of the curator. Perhaps together with a social identity crisis, perhaps with the complexity that contemporary projects are currently acquiring, the need for building, articulating and delving into artistic discourses became evident.

Although the functions entrusted to this profession are not entirely new, since previously they belonged to conservatives, critics or experts according to the themes, the role has gained solidity because it combines all these purposes while allowing the specialisation of other professionals in their fields of competence. Now, as some curators themselves point out, the genuine spirit of this figure, who was born to facilitate the understanding of the discourse, create narratives within a sometimes chaotic and scattered context, mediate between the works and the spectator and create bridges between contemporary art and society.

The art of our day raises a multitude of unknowns for the visitor who must face proposals many times away from the aesthetic standards, which gives way to uncertainty and confusion; but, in turn, these works employ a closer language, materials and even compositions detached from the sophistication and the technical display of yesteryear, something that, far from favouring proximity to the message, generates some distancing. What we have just described is part of the very essence of current art. The questioning of the formalist guidelines and the recourse to tangible elements that are more utilitarian than embellishing are the new criteria of creation, where, above all, the message to be conveyed stands out.

Likewise, another inherent characteristic of the work of our time is the artists' concern for more immediate themes, for social, political and economic issues that seek to create a narrative and conceptual revulsion, leaving behind the aesthetic priority or, rather, making of the message its own aesthetic. In this context, strange as it may seem, contemporary creation encounters a linguistic barrier hindering the viewer's understanding. And to this circumstance, the abundant current production is added, covering a wide range of themes that are nothing more than a transcript of our diverse and globalised society.

The curator helps to facilitate this understanding by articulating a coherent discourse that allows the grouping of related ideas to set up the message. This requires to have an in-depth knowledge of the current state of the art, the lines of work of the creators, the most recent aesthetic proposals and the real demands of society to bridge the dialogue and allow the approach to art. If art deals with the same issues that concern us all, how can we not share its postulates? Cultural mediation requires the work of the curators to open a small window for reflection and to enable a space for exchange and idea generation. We share the thought that José Guirao expressed in a recent interview: "The curator is someone who reveals something new, and it would be a mistake for curators to become managers."

Understood this way curator’s role, many institutions have joined the trend of creating specific calls for new professionals to give light to their proposals. Let us remember, as an example, the call "Unpublished" of La Casa Encendida, or "Curator wanted", of the Community of Madrid or the call of Curating of La Caixa.