Can’t Make It to the Venice Biennale? See Work by Every Artist in the Arsenale Section of the Sprawling Exhibition

The biennale's main exhibition "May You Live in Interesting Times" is a show in two halves.

Jon Rafman, Xanax Girl (Dream Journal). Image courtesy Ben Davis.
Jon Rafman, Xanax Girl (Dream Journal). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

A little bit of fatigue is part of the price of admission to big, sprawling art events like the Venice Biennale. Navigating such an ambitious exhibition is no easy task, since it ranges across multiple venues and brings together vast quantities of material.

Ralph Rugoff’s edition is plenty ambitious and plenty sprawling. But in an attempt to make the 2019 edition a bit more user-friendly, he has conceptually split the big show into two parts, with each of his selected artists getting to show twice: once in the industrial Arsenale space, and again in the main pavilion in the Giardini. Rugoff has dubbed the two parallel and contrasting exhibitions “Proposition A” and “Proposition B.”

Whether the gesture actually pays off in terms of meaning-making remains to be seen, but it does give you permission to treat the two parts as distinct units that you can consider individually.

For those looking to get a sense of what it looks and feels like, I’m posting some photos of the various attractions. First up: the Arsenale section, aka “Proposition A.”

56 anthea hamilton

The entrance to the Arsenale for the 2019 Venice Biennale. Image courtesy Ben Davis.

George Condo, <em>Double Elvis</em> (2019). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

George Condo, Double Elvis (2019). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Soham Gupta, <em>Untitled</em> from the series “Angst” (2013-2017). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Soham Gupta, Untitled from the series “Angst” (2013-2017). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Two works by Zanele Muholi in the Arsenale. Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Two works by Zanele Muholi in the Arsenale. Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Photos by Anthony Hernandez in the Arsenale. Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Photos by Anthony Hernandez in the Arsenale. Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Christian Marclay, <em>48 War Movies</em> (2019). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Christian Marclay, 48 War Movies (2019). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Video by Ed Atkins in the Arsenale. Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Video by Ed Atkins in the Arsenale. Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Tavares Strachan, <em>Robert Henry Lawrence, Jr.</em> (2018). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Tavares Strachan, Robert Henry Lawrence, Jr. (2018). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Gabriel Rico, <em> Sección aurea</em> (2017). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Gabriel Rico, Sección aurea (2017). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Shilpa Gupta, For, in your tongue, I cannot fit (2017-2018). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Shilpa Gupta, For, in your tongue, I cannot fit (2017-2018). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Teresa Margoles, <em>La Búsqueda </em> (2014). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Teresa Margolles, La Búsqueda (2014). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Jesse Darling, <em>March of the Valedictorians</em> (2016). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Jesse Darling, March of the Valedictorians (2016). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Henry Taylor, <em>Untilted</em> (2019). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Henry Taylor, Untilted (2019). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Suite of paintings by Njideka Akunyili Crosby. Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Suite of paintings by Njideka Akunyili Crosby. Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Lemang Wa Lehulere, <em>Dead Eye</em> (2018). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Lemang Wa Lehulere, Dead Eye (2018). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Tsuyoshi Hisakado, <em>Sychronicity</em> (2018). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Tsuyoshi Hisakado, Sychronicity (2018). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Stan Douglas, <em>Queue</em> (2017). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Stan Douglas, Queue (2017). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Yin Xiuzhen, <em>Nowhere to Land </em>(2012). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Yin Xiuzhen, Nowhere to Land (2012). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Nabuqi, <em>Destination</em> (2018). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Nabuqi, Destination (2018). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Martine Gutierrez, image from the "Body En Thrall" series. Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Martine Gutierrez, image from the “Body En Thrall” series. Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Jill Mulleady, <em>The Fights was Fixed</em> (2019). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Jill Mulleady, The Fights was Fixed (2019). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Jean-Luc Moulène, <em>BébU</em> (2019). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Jean-Luc Moulène, BébU (2019). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Korakrit Arunanondchai, <em>No history in a room filled with people with funny names 5</em> (2018). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Korakrit Arunanondchai, No history in a room filled with people with funny names 5 (2018). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Korakrit Arunanondchai, <em>No history in a room filled with people with funny names 5</em> (2018). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Korakrit Arunanondchai, No history in a room filled with people with funny names 5 (2018). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Carol Bove, <em>Nike III</em> (2019). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Carol Bove, Nike III (2019). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Two works by Suki Seokyeong Kang. Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Two works by Suki Seokyeong Kang. Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Sculpture by Nicole Eisenman. Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Sculpture by Nicole Eisenman. Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Lee Bul, <em>Aubade V</em> (2019). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Lee Bul, Aubade V (2019). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Sun Yuan and Peng Yu, <em>Dear</em> (2015). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Sun Yuan and Peng Yu, Dear (2015). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Three works by Handiwirman Saputra. Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Three works by Handiwirman Saputra. Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Installation by Mari Katayama. Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Installation by Mari Katayama. Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Kaari Upson, <em>THERE IS NO SUCH TING AS OUTSIDE</em> (2017-2019). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Kaari Upson, THERE IS NO SUCH TING AS OUTSIDE (2017-2019). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Hito Steyerl, <em>This is the Future</em> (2019). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Hito Steyerl, This is the Future (2019). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Cameron Jamie, <em>Smiling Disease</em> (2008). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Cameron Jamie, Smiling Disease (2008). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Installation by Christine and Margaret Wertheim. Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Installation by Christine and Margaret Wertheim. Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Otobong Nkanga, <em>Veins Aligned</em> (2018). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Otobong Nkanga, Veins Aligned (2018). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Three paintings by Julie Mehretu. Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Three paintings by Julie Mehretu. Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Photos by Gauri Gil. Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Photos by Gauri Gil. Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Installation view of Rula Halawani. Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Installation view of Rula Halawani. Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Augustas Serapinas, <em>Chair for the Invigilator (white)</em> (2019). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Augustas Serapinas, Chair for the Invigilator (white) (2019). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Painting by Michael Armitage. Image Courtesy Ben Davis.

Painting by Michael Armitage. Image Courtesy Ben Davis.

Haris Epaminonda, <em>VOL. XXVII</em> (2019). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Haris Epaminonda, VOL. XXVII (2019). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Fabric work and paintings by Ulrike Müller. Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Fabric work and paintings by Ulrike Müller. Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, <em>Endodrome</em> (2019). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Visitors experiencing Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster’s VR work, Endodrome (2019). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Yu Ji, <em>Flesh in Stone-Component #3</em> (2017). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Yu Ji, Flesh in Stone-Component #3 (2017). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Liu Wei, <em>Microworld</em> (2018). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Liu Wei, Microworld (2018). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Alex Da Corte, <em>Rubber Pencil Devil</em> (2019). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Alex Da Corte, Rubber Pencil Devil (2019). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Michael E. Smith, <em>Untitled</em> (2019). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Michael E. Smith, Untitled (2019). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Rosemarie Trockel, <em>Demanding Person but a Sublime Poet</em> (2016), part of a grid of photos. Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Rosemarie Trockel, Demanding Person but a Sublime Poet (2016), part of a grid of photos. Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Alexandra Birken, <em>ESKALATION</em> (2016). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Alexandra Birken, ESKALATION (2016). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Frida Orupabo, Untitled (2018). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Frida Orupabo, Untitled (2018). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Ad Minoliti, <em>Cubes</em> (2019). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Ad Minoliti, Cubes (2019). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Antoine Catala, <em>The Heart Atrophies</em> (2018-2019). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Antoine Catala, The Heart Atrophies (2018-2019). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Photos by Khyentse Norbu. Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Photos by Khyentse Norbu. Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Installation view of Ian Cheng's comic-based work <em>Life After BOB: First Tract</em> (2019). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Installation view of Ian Cheng’s comic-based work Life After BOB: First Tract (2019). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Detail of Ian Cheng, <em>Life After BOB: First Tract </em>(2019). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Detail of Ian Cheng, Life After BOB: First Tract (2019). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Installation by Anthea Hamilton. Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Installation by Anthea Hamilton. Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Two paintings by Avery Singer. Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Two paintings by Avery Singer. Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Works from Arthur Jafa's "Big Wheel" series. Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Works from Arthur Jafa’s “Big Wheel” series. Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Works by Lara Favaretto. Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Works by Lara Favaretto. Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Sculpture by Andra Ursuţa. Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Sculpture by Andra Ursuţa. Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Installation view of Ryoji Ikeda film, <em>data-verse 1</em> (2019). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Installation view of Ryoji Ikeda film, data-verse 1 (2019). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Dahn Vo, <em>All Work</em> (2019)

Dahn Vo, All Work (2019)

Tarek Atoui, <em>The GROUND</em>(2018). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Tarek Atoui, The GROUND (2018). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Jimmie Durham, <em>Brown Bear</em> (2017). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Jimmie Durham, Brown Bear (2017). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Zhanna Kadyrova, <em>Market</em> (2017). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Zhanna Kadyrova, Market (2017). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Anicka Yi, <em>Biologizing the Machine (tentacular trouble)</em> (2019). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Anicka Yi, Biologizing the Machine (tentacular trouble) (2019). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Handiwirman Saputra, <em>Holding Base Below Hook</em> (2011-2014). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Handiwirman Saputra, Holding Base Below Hook (2011-2014). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Kahlil Joseph, <em>BLKNWS</em> (2018). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Kahlil Joseph, BLKNWS (2018). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Fountain as part of Slavs and Tatars, <em>Dillio Plaza</em> (2019). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Fountain as part of Slavs and Tatars, Dillio Plaza (2019). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Out-of-order vending machine in Slavs and Tatars, <em>Dillio Plaza</em> (2019). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Out-of-order vending machine in Slavs and Tatars, Dillio Plaza (2019). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Works from Nairy Baghramian's "Dwindle Down" series (2018). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Works from Nairy Baghramian’s “Dwindle Down” series (2018). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Christoph Büchel, <em>Barca nostra</em> (2019). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Christoph Büchel, Barca nostra (2019). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Ludovica Carbotta, <em>Monowe (The Terminal Outpost)</em> (2019). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Ludovica Carbotta, Monowe (The Terminal Outpost) (2019). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Tomás Saraceno, Aero(s)scene: When breath becomes air, when atmospheres become the movement for a post fossil fuel era against carbon-capitalist clouds (2019). Image courtesy Julia Halperin.

Tomás Saraceno, Aero(s)scene: When breath becomes air, when atmospheres become the movement for a post fossil fuel era against carbon-capitalist clouds (2019). Image courtesy Julia Halperin.

Andreas Lolis, <em>Untitled</em> (2018). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Andreas Lolis, Untitled (2018). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Cyprien Gaillard, <em>Ocean II Ocean</em> (2019). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Cyprien Gaillard, Ocean II Ocean (2019). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Halil Altindere, <em>Neverland</em> (2019). Image courtesy Ben Davis.

Halil Altindere, Neverland (2019). Image courtesy Ben Davis.


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