11 Galleries Are Moving Into Venice’s First Official Art District—Opening Just in Time for the Biennale

The new Giudecca Art District will be home to galleries, artist studios, and art-themed restaurants.

Giudecca Island. Courtesy of Giudecca Art District.

A collective of female artists is inaugurating a new art quarter in Venice to coincide with the opening of the 58th Venice Biennale. Founded by Venetian art directors Pier Paolo Scelsi and Valentina Gioia Levy, the Guidecca Art District will be the city’s first permanent art quarter, and will comprise 11 new art galleries and exhibition spaces, including three national pavilions and a new contemporary art space called the Giudecca Art District Gallery and Garden.

As implied in the name, the district is being built on the former industrial island of Giudecca, a historic site that played host to Marina Abramović’s first performance in 1976, Ai Weiwei’s 2013 biennale exhibition, “Disposition,” and Damien Hirst’s 2017 Giudecca Canal exhibition.

New locations for the national pavilions of Estonia, Iceland, and Nigeria will also be inaugurated as part of the launch, while more than 60 artists from 30 countries will feature in some 20 exhibitions on the island come May. Ten established art galleries and spaces will also be opening, including Studiolacitta, Chiesa delle Zitelle, Starak Foundation, Spazio Bullo, Spazio Raunich, and Spazio Silos with an additional five more galleries to be announced next month.

The inauguration will feature a video installation by a member of the all-female October! Art Collective, Aleksandra Karpowicz. The October! Collective was founded by Karpowicz and two other London-based artists, Fayann Smith and Isabella Steinsdotter, as a platform to explore the positive influence women can have on each other through art.

Still from Aleksandra Karpowicz, Body as Home. Courtesy of October! Collective.

Karpowicz’s three-channel video triptych, Body As Home, was filmed in four cities; Cape Town, London, New York, and Warsaw. Three protagonists from each city—a local, a visitor, and the artist—explore the concept of home and how identities are shaped by an understanding of home, encompassing perspectives such as geographical location, migration, and self-discovery. Curated by Miguel Mallol, the installation hopes to encourage viewers to feel at home in their own bodies.

Other notable exhibitions that are part of the launch include a group show by eight international artists in a large outdoor garden fittingly titled “Take Care of Your Garden.”

Giudecca island has transformed in recent years from a former industrial area, home to the Dreher brewery, to a buzzing arts district, complete with artist studios, edgy hotels, art-inspired restaurants, and is even home to a few celebrities, including Elton John and Miuccia Prada.

The new spaces will add to the existing art scene on the island, alongside the existing Galleria Michela Rizzo, which was the first gallery to open on the island in 2004. Elsewhere, the Zuecca Project Space in a former convent of the Le Zitelle church, now linked to the Bauer Palladio Hotel, hosts exhibitions that center around the idea of displacement, a major part of the Venetian identity. The venue collaborated with London’s Lisson Gallery in 2013 to host Ai Weiwei’s show “Disposition.” The cloister of another former convent of Cosma and Damiano has studio spaces reserved for young artists as part of the Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa’s Atelier program.

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