Brace Yourself, 2017 Will Be One of the Busiest Years for Art Yet

Documenta, Skulptur Projekte Münster, and the Venice Biennale are in rare alignment.

The Venice Biennale. Photo: courtesy the Venice Biennale.
The Venice Biennale. Photo: courtesy the Venice Biennale.

2017 is finally upon us. A quick look at the major art events around the world this year—a line-up that has inspired the name “Art-Mageddon 2017” at the artnet News office—reveals that the itinerary of global art exhibitions is about to reach new levels of busy.

For starters, the Venice Biennale, Documenta (which happens once every five years), and Skulptur Projekte Münster (once every 10 years) are in rare alignment. And Documenta, which is curated by Adam Szymczyk, will take place in two different countries.

This year will also see the launch of a slew of biennials and triennials, including the Garage Triennale in Moscow, the ARoS Triennial in Aarhus, Denmark, Pakistan’s Lahore Biennale, and the Kathmandu Triennale in Nepal, to name a few.

From the world’s (quite literally) hottest event to the coldest, 2017 is bringing us some of the most exciting and highly anticipated art exhibitions of the decade.

Here is our line-up of some of the biggest highlights of the year from all across the globe:

Coachella Valley, California USA, a dramatic setting indeed. Photo Courtesy: blmcalifornia via Flickr.

Coachella Valley, California USA, a dramatic setting indeed. Photo Courtesy: blmcalifornia via Flickr.

Desert X Desert Exhibition of ArtCoachella Valley, California
February 25-April 20
Literally the hottest event of the year, Desert X, organized by the non-profit Desert Biennial—established in 2014 and with artist Ed Ruscha on its board—is set to take place in the Coachella Valley in California for the duration of three months.

A popular destination due to the Coachella music festival, the desert valley will play host to a series of installations and events, curated by Neville Wakefield.

With aims to highlight the extremity of the setting’s weather as a way to discuss climate change, the Biennial also looks to provide artists with the desert as an inspiration, as a primary influence for their work. “The desert has long exercised its fascination over the minds of artists, architects, musicians, writers and other explorers of landscape and soul,” said the curator in a statement.

Yayoi Kusama, "Footprints of Life," 2016, co-presented by Honolulu Biennial Foundation, Howard Hughes Corporation and Ward Village. Courtesy of AJ Feducia.

Yayoi Kusama, Footprints of Life (2016), co-presented by Honolulu Biennial Foundation, Howard Hughes Corporation and Ward Village. Courtesy of AJ Feducia.

Honolulu Biennial, Honolulu, Hawaii
March 8–May 8
Book your post-Armory Show ticket from New York to Hawaii for the Honolulu Biennial Foundation’s inaugural edition of the Honolulu Biennial, hosted at sites throughout the city. It will highlight Hawaii’s multicultural history, featuring artists both based in and native to the 50th state and showcasing “the diversity of ideas, art, and culture from the people who live today throughout the places connected by the Pacific Ocean,” according to a statement.

Titled “Middle of Now | Here,” the exhibition is directed by Fumio Nanjo of Tokyo’s Mori Art Museum and curated by Ngahiraka Mason, the former longtime curator of Indigenous and Maori art at the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki. It casts the former island nation as a vibrant crossroads between the Pacific Islands, Asia, North America, Australia, and New Zealand, a bridge between the east and west, rather as the middle of nowhere, as it might seem to some on first blush. Expect a mix of local artists and big names, with Yayoi Kusama receiving top billing.

Garage Museum of Contemporary Art. Photo courtesy Garage Museum.

Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow. Photo courtesy: Garage Museum.

Russian Art Triennial by Garage Museum, Moscow, Russia
March 10–May 14
To coincide with the centennial of the Russian Revolution in 2017, Moscow’s Garage Museum is launching Russia’s first triennial contemporary art exhibition.

The triennial team is led by Garage’s chief curator Kate Fowle, and participating artists will represent the nine regions of the country: the South, Central, North West, Far East, Siberia, Urals, Volga, North Caucasus, and—in a conscious decision to address Russia’s controversial annexation of the territory—the Crimea Federal Districts. “Just as the revolution encouraged Russia’s first avant-garde, Garage hopes to spur the next,” said the museum.

Mapping the Stages of SB13 by Nancy Naser Aldeen. Photo Courtesy: Sharjah Art Foundation.

Mapping the Stages of SB13 by Nancy Naser Aldeen. Photo Courtesy: Sharjah Art Foundation.

Sharjah Biennale, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates
March 12–June 12
At first produced by the Sharjah Department of Culture and Information, the Biennale has since become a major initiative by the Sharjah Art Foundation. Although internationally recognized, it still retains a regional and traditional focus, showing in buildings and courtyards of art and heritage sites across the city.

This year the Foundation has released an extensive five-phase plan for the biennial, including an ongoing online publishing platform; a year-long education program in Sharjah; as well as projects in Dakar, Ramallah, Istanbul, and Beirut. Entitled “Tamawuj,” it is curated by Christine Tohm.

The Whitney Museum of American Art. Photo by Ed Lederman, courtesy the Whitney Museum.

The Whitney Museum of American Art. Photo by Ed Lederman, courtesy the Whitney Museum.

Whitney Biennial 2017, New York
March 17–June 11
Curated by Christopher Y. Lew and Mia Locks, this year’s Whitney Biennial—the first in the institution’s new Renzo Piano mothership in the Meatpacking District—will focus on the place of the individual in a turbulent society. Lew and Locks scoured the country for artists, and the biennial will, as usual, include a mixture of emerging and established names working in all sorts of media, from GCC, Samara Golden, and Jordan Wolfson, to Occupy Museums, Puppies Puppies, and Porpentine Charity Heartscape.

Alexander Ponomarev, Сommissioner of the 1st Antarctic Biennale, on site earlier this year. Photo Courtesy: Antarctic Biennale.

Alexander Ponomarev, Сommissioner of the 1st Antarctic Biennale, on site earlier this year. Photo Courtesy: Antarctic Biennale.

Antarctic Biennale, Antarctic Peninsula
March 27–April 6

The first of its kind, the Antarctic Biennale is set to take place aboard the research ships Akademik Ioffe and Akademik Sergey Vavilov. The Biennale will thus sail for the duration of roughly 15 days, with all events and activities taking place along the way, including several scheduled “landings.” Beginning at the Port of Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world, this historic journey will reach its end at Marguerito Bay on the west side of the Antarctic Peninsula.

The list of artists confirmed so far includes: Hani Rashid; Matthew Ritchie; Tomas Saraceno; Julian Charriere; Paul Rosero Contreras; Juliana Cerqueira Leite; Zhang Enli; Sho Hasegawa; Gustav Dusing; Julius von Bismarck; Yto Barrada; and Lara Favaretto. A final complete list will be released in February (although a key curator has already backed out). Work from the expedition will then be exhibited at the Antarctic Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale later in the year.

Andreas Angelidakis, installation view of 68 blocks of ruins. Courtesy of Documenta 14.

Andreas Angelidakis, installation view of 68 blocks of ruins. Courtesy of Documenta 14.

Documenta 14, Athens, Greece and Kassel, Germany
April 8–July 16 in Athens; June 10–September 17 in Kassel
Documenta, the quinquennial contemporary art exhibition, comes back this year with an ambitious edition as it splits itself among two destinations, taking place not only in Kassel, Germany, as is customary, but at “several distinctive venues” in Athens, Greece. The show will be titled “Documenta 14: Learning from Athens.”

Led by the bold vision of curator and artistic director Adam Szymczyk, the move is a nod toward the changes afoot in Europe today, and how they mirror those in 1965, when the exhibition was founded.

Christine Macel Photo: courtesy the Venice Biennale

Christine Macel. Courtesy the Venice Biennale

57th Venice BiennaleVenice, Italy
May 13–November 26

The title for the 2017 iteration of the Venice Biennale is “Viva Arte Viva” and is curated by Christine Macel. Her curatorial vision aims to focus on the role of the artist in society, especially in troubled times. The main exhibition will deal with the forms they propose and practices they develop, and will modify the spaces to entirely suit the objects to be hosted within.

On choosing Macel, Paolo Baratta, the President of the Biennale, declared that she is “a curator committed to emphasizing the important role artists play in inventing their own universe and injecting generous vitality into the world we live in.”

Kaspar König is the artistic director of the 5th Skulptur Projekte Münster in 2017

Kaspar König is the artistic director of the 5th Skulptur Projekte Münster in 2017

Skulptur Projekte Münster, Münster, Germany
June 10–September 17
Held every ten years, the Skulptur Projekte fills up the German city of Münster, presenting the work of a variety of international artists. Its particular charm is in its total use of public space, as it commissions site-specific works to respond to the urban context, thus also encouraging public participation.

Kasper König founded the exhibition in 1977, and has curated every edition since. The fifth edition, opening in June, looks to focus on the increasing digitization of the urban environment, and will include works by Rebecca Horn, Claes Oldenburg, Bruce Nauman, Rosemarie Trockel, Ayşe Erkmen, Ei Arakawa, and Katharina Stöver, among several other notable names. This year, for the first time ever, the show will expand to the nearby city of Marl.

Yokohama Museum of Art. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Yokohama Museum of Art. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Yokohama Triennale, Yokohama, Japan
August 4–November 5 
As it heads into its sixth edition, “Islands, Constellations and Galapagos,” the Yokohama Triennale, from its base at Japan’s Yokohama Museum of Art and Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse, aims to “reexamine the state of global connectivity and isolation from various angles,” addressing “issues such as isolation and connectivity, imagination and guidance, distinctness and diversity.”

Ahead of the August opening, the triennale is hosting Yokohama Round, a series of public forums, beginning in January 2017. Participating artists have yet to be announced, but recent editions of the exhibition, founded in 2001, have featured around 70 artists.

Elmgreen & Dragset. Photo by Elmar Vestner, Courtesy: IKSV.

Elmgreen & Dragset. Photo by Elmar Vestner, Courtesy: IKSV.

15th Istanbul Biennal, Istanbul, Turkey
September 16–November 12
The 15th Istanbul Biennal is helmed this year by artist-curators Elmgreen & Dragset, who recently announced their chosen theme: “A Good Neighbor.” The biennial will explore notions of home, neighborhoods, and private spheres in a traditional sense, while also exploring how these ideas have changed in the recent past.

They will ask the question, “What does it mean to be a good neighbor?” by, as they explained in a recent Artforum Q&A, “speak[ing] about coexistence in a broader sense” and “curat[ing] the biennial almost as if it would be a neighborhood in itself,” allowing artists to enter dialogue with each other.

Emma Lavigne Photo:© Manuel Braun, courtesy Biennale de Lyon

Emma Lavigne. Photo ©Manuel Braun, courtesy Biennale de Lyon

14th Biennale de Lyon, Rhône-Alpes Region, France
September 20–December 31
Emma Lavigne, director of the Centre Pompidou-Metz, has been named curator of the 14th Biennale de Lyon, and will curate the second consecutive iteration of the Biennale to focus on the keyword “moderne,and tackle issues relating to modernism and modernity.

The previous edition in 2015, curated by Hayward Gallery director Ralph Rugoff, was titled “La vie moderne” and was the first of a trilogy to focus on the same word. Details for the upcoming edition have not yet been revealed, but Lavigne, who was curator of the French pavilion at the 2015 Venice Biennale with Céleste Boursier-Mougenot’s project rêvolutions, has a knack for staging shows that focus on complex, interconnected systems.

Image Courtesy: Karachi Biennale '17.

Photo Credit: Karachi Biennale 2017.

Karachi Biennale, Karachi, Pakistan
October 21–November 5
Pakistan has slowly begun to feature on the map of the creative art scene, and the Biennale is one more testament to that. In its debut year—and since declaring Karachi the cosmopolitan representative for the rest of Pakistan—the Karachi Biennale looks to the working artists, curators, and writers within the city. Karachi does indeed have a rich history of an engaging modernism, and the Biennale, aptly titled “Witness,” hopes to shed light on the city’s cultural and historical significance.

Artists’ work will run through the city, aiming to engage viewers of all ages, nationalities, and professions, and truly present the city as an open space.

Athi-Patra Ruga performs at Performa 2016 Gala: Beloved Country. Courtesy of BFA.

Athi-Patra Ruga performs at Performa 2016 Gala: Beloved Country. Courtesy of BFA.

Performa 17, New York 
November 1–19
Live performance takes center stage at Performa, which was founded in 2004 by RoseLee Goldberg. A native of South Africa, Goldberg is looking to her homeland, as well as Kenya, Senegal, and Morocco, for the upcoming edition. The biennial’s initial list of commissions for 2017 includes projects from Yto Barrada and Julie Mehretu in collaboration with Jason Moran, Zanele Muholi, and Kemang Wa Lehulere.

Study for Tank (2014) Glenn Kaino's project at the Contemporary Art Center in New Orleans, part of Prospect.3 the third biennial which opens October 25. Courtesy the artist.

Study for Tank (2014) Glenn Kaino’s project at the Contemporary Art Center in New Orleans, part of Prospect.3 the third biennial which opens October 25. Courtesy the artist.

Prospect.4 New Orleans, New Orleans, Louisiana
November 11, 2017–February 25, 2018
It’s been a rough road for New Orleans in a number of ways in the years since Hurricane Katrina, and Prospect New Orleans, designed to help the city rebound from that natural disaster, is no exception. The critically-acclaimed inaugural 2008 run ended up in debt. A second go-around in 2012 was less acclaimed, and the the third edition was delayed to 2014.

Now, with Trevor Schoonmaker of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, on tap as artistic director in 2017, an impressive roster has been assembled for an artistic directors council that will bring a broader global scope to the triennial: artists William Cordova, Wangechi Mutu, and Ebony G. Patterson; Miranda Lash of the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Kentucky; Omar Lopez-Chahoud of Miami’s Untitled art fair; Filipa Oliveira of the Fórum Eugénio de Almeida, Lisbon; and Zoe Whitley of the Tate, London.

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