The 2017 Venice Biennale Will Focus on Artists, Not Big Themes

Viewers can have lunch with artists and discuss their work.

Christine Macel Photo: courtesy the Venice Biennale
Christine Macel. Courtesy the Venice Biennale

The upcoming 57th edition of the Venice Biennale exhibition, curated by Christine Macel, will be titled “Viva Arte Viva.” The President of La Biennale di Venezia, Paolo Baratta, and Macel announced the title in Venice, yesterday to representatives from the participating countries.

In a statement explaining the decision, Macel writes, “In a world full of conflicts and jolts, in which humanism is being seriously jeopardized, art is the most precious part of the human being.”

Macel went on to stress the role of art in unstable times: “It is the ideal place for reflection, individual expression, freedom, and fundamental questions. It is a ‘yes’ to life, although sometimes a ‘but’ lies behind. More than ever, the role, the voice and the responsibility of the artist are crucial in the framework of contemporary debates.”

Although no participating artists have been named, the announcement described the upcoming edition as “a Biennale designed with the artists, by the artist, and for the artists.” That is not to say that the audience will be secondary: Every week, during the six months of the exhibition, an artist will invite viewers to an “Open Table,” where audiences can engage in conversation with an artist over lunch.

In the weeks leading to the opening, a video will be posted daily on the Biennale’s official website, giving viewers the opportunity to learn more about the artists before the show’s opening.

When Macel’s appointment was announced this past January, Baratta described her as “a curator committed to emphasizing the important role artists play in inventing their own universes and kindly injecting vitality into the world we live in.” Yesterday, he added that “By finding inspiration in a ‘humanist’ vision and keeping the focus on the artist’s creative act the exhibition will also promote a new and more intense conversation between visitors and many of the artists on display, through a program of meetings specifically designed for the occasion.”

In addition to the videos and lunch conversations, one such program will include the project called “Unpacking My Library,” which borrows its title from Walter Benjamin’s famous essay. As the title suggests, artists will contribute a list of their favorite books to be presented here.

The 57th Venice Biennale will take place from May 13 – November 26, 2017

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