May You Live In Interesting Times - La Biennale di Venezia 2019
The Venice Biennale is a curious thing. Founded in 1893, with the first presentation actually in 1895 this year will be the 58th edition. We know that it happens every 2 years without fail. But we don’t know where to eat when in Venice. We know where the national Pavilions are in the Giardini, and how to snake our way to the Arsenale, but we don’t know where the best Gelato is served. In fact what we know with even more certainty about La Biennale is that no one knows where to have a good meal on this sinking network of islands off the coast of Veneto.
Norton & Sons, by no means the ultimate arbiter of these things, is here to give you a quick overview and access to our LBB ahead of next week’s opening.
Who is the Curator?
This year the curator is Ralph Rugoff the curator of London’s Hayward Gallery on Southbank. If you have been to the gallery in the last couple of years, you will have enjoyed one of several immersive and enlightening exhibitions. Hayward gallery has managed to re-ignite a wider interest in both Contemporary Art and Contemporary life in London, drawing crowds both from London and afar. The theme “ May You Live In Interesting Times” promises to hold a mirror up to the world around us. Already we can see a marked increase in the number of Female artists representing National Pavilions, as well as focus on gender fluidity and identities. With free reign on who he selects for the central show there are 79 artists or collectives included in his curation.
6 Pavilions we are looking forward to seeing:
There are 90 countries that will present pavilions this year in Venice. The most ever. Even San Marino is taking part. The very first country to build their own pavilion was Belgium in 1907 and the most recent country to enter the Giardini, and possibly the last as it’s tight on space, was South Korea in 1995. Although Australia had an overhaul of its pavilion which reopened in 2017.
Portugal - Represented by Leonore Antunes - Palazzo Giustinian Lolin
United Kingdom - Represented by Cathy Wilkes - GIARDINI
France - Represented by Laure Prouvost - GIARDINI
Iceland -Hrafnhildur Arnadóttir / Shoplifter - SPAZIO PUNCH, GIUDECCA
Brazil - Represented by Bárbara Wagner & Benjamin de Burca - GIARDINI
For a full list of artist taking part and the countries they are representing, artnet has a great list they keep updated here.
5 Off-site happenings we are into:
Edmund de Waal - psalm - in the Jewish Ghetto, CANNAREGIO
This new installation will be in a 16th-century synagogue featuring porcelain, marble and also gold to reflect the surroundings of the installation. The synagogue part of the installation will be shown in is part of the Jewish Museum in Venice and will be situated within the Women’s Gallery, a first for the synagogue. Part two of the installation will be at the Ateneo Veneto in the Aula Magna room of this 15th-century cultural space.
Palazzo Fortuny curated by Axel Vervoordt
Sadly, 2017 was the last time Vervoordt was to curate his decade long epic installations at this gothic palazzo. It will be sorely missed.
Luc Tuymans at Palazzo Grassi
Tuymans will be presenting a site-specific work for his first personal exhibition in Italy at the Palazzo Grassi during the Biennale. It will be a mosaic work based on a painting of his own from 1986. It will be accompanied by over 80 works from the Pinault collection as well as international museums and collections spanning his work form 1986 as the starting point to today.
Georg Baselitz at Gallerie dell’Accademia
Baselitz will be the first living contemporary artist to show at the Accademia during the 2019 Biennale. Painter and sculptor, the exhibition will span over 60 years of the German artist’s work and career.
Delfina Foundation - Various locations,
The Delfina Foundation from London will be presenting a series of live performances during the opening week in May and the closing weekend in November. The program of events will be co-curated with the Biennale under the guidance of Ralph Rugoff. While the concentration of performances will take place at Teatro Piccolo Arsenale, they will also move beyond the Arsenale to bring the art into direct contact with visitors beyond the location.
If you haven’t already booked one, forget it! You might as well find a sofa to surf on!
Everyone claims Venice has the worst restaurants and food in the world. There also seems to be a slimy and deceitful side to the service industry where bills appear at the end of a meal with a shockingly high value for an unbeknownst reason that can’t be dealt with unless you speak perfect Italian or Venetian and are ready for a fight! Avoiding those issues hopefully and forgetting the old haunts that everyone seems to frequent ad nauseam here are a few alternate spots worth a jaunt.
Dopolavoro - For an adventure by Vaporetto!
This Michelin starred restaurant at the JWMarriot on the Isola delle Rose. If you thought going to the Cipriani was a schlep maybe leave this one out. Dopolavoro
Antiche Carampane - For the most local of flair
near the Rialto this local gem is a favourite of both Venetians and visitors who come for the locally sourced fish. Antiche Carampane
Il Paradiso Perduto - For a party from Thursday to Monday and no need to go home
If you want to lose track of time in Venice this is the place. Live music nightly, and plenty of energia! Paradiso Perduto
Upupa - For vegetables galore
A 0KM sourced menu located in Venices’ Old Ghetto. Upupa
Osteria All’arco - For major chichetti if you are near Rialto
Hidden away in some little back streets if you say Chichetti I say All’Arco
Other tidbits you might search out:
The Best Gelato: Gelateria Nico - when the sun is out there is nothing like a Gelato in Venice! This is THE place.
The Best Coffee: Torrefazione Marchi - The trek is worth it for amazing Venetian coffee in Cannaregio
The Best Seat in the Square: Caffe Lavena - forget about Caffee Florian this is where the espresso is meanest.