The curator of the 2019 Biennale, Ralph Rugoff, explains that the title of this year’s exhibition – May You Live In Interesting Times – is an invitation to think critically as art allows us to see reality from different angles. “To highlight this approach, the Biennale is divided into two separate exhibitions – Proposition A in the Arsenale, and Proposition B in the Central Pavilion. All of the artists appear in both exhibitions, but they show very different types of work in each venue.”
Continuing our Biennale series, we have put together some hightlights of the International Exhibition that particularly impressed us.
South African artist Zanele Muholi challenges stereotypes of African, female and lesbian identity in her powerful photographic self-portraits. She stares out at the viewer either directly or indirectly in her photos, and explains: “The black face and its details become the focal point, forcing the viewer to question their desire to gaze at images of my black figure”.
Margaret & Christine Wertheim
The Crochet Coral Reef is an ongoing project by Australian sisters Margaret and Christine Wertheim, which began in 2005. The work simulates living reefs using crochet techniques. Combining mathematics, marine biology and art, Crochet Coral Reef offers a response to issues of sea pollution and plastic waste, and especially the damages to the Great Barrier Reef.
Sun Yuan & Peng Yu
Can’t Help Myself is an industrial robot that is constantly in motion, programmed to ensure that a deep red liquid stays within a specific area. The robot is trapped in a transparent ‘cage’, as if it were captured and displayed like an animal. The blood-like fluid continually oozes away; triggering the robot’s sensors and making it turn to sweep it back into place.
Thai artist Korakrit Arunanondchai creates installations that combine family, superstition, history, politics and art. The sculpture is made of tree-like forms made from metal and plant material, representing the excess of waste in the world today. Threaded with glowing glass orbs, the installation seems almost apocalyptic.
Microworld by Liu Wei explores the concept of ‘other worlds’. Her installation features warped aluminum shapes that represent the hidden world of subatomic particles, referring to the idea that there is more than just one world we live in.