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The Venice Biennale 2015: quick facts you may want to know

The Venice Biennale 2015: quick facts you may want to know
Okwui Enwezor, image credit Max Geuter.

The 56th International Art Exhibition, la Biennale di Venezia 2015 is celebrating its 120th anniversary this year. One of the most important happenings in the art world is going to take place just in a week. What will be, as Italians say, la cilliegina sulla torta of the International Art Exhibition is already known, as well as the list of the participating countries and artists.



Padiglione Centrale, image courtesy of la Biennale di Venezia.


With a theme of 'All the World’s Futures', the curator Okwui Enwezor and the 136 artists will be trying to create an atmosphere where words and the language of art will be the main tool to express the intermingling of the past and the future: “La Biennale di Venezia has existed at the confluence of many socio-political changes and radical historical ruptures across the fields of art, culture, politics, technology, and economics.” One of the centrepieces for this year’s Biennale will be a non-stop reading of The Capital by Karl Marx. Another standpoint is the aftermath of the active communication between the curator Enwezor and the participating artists who will present their works that were specially created for this year’s edition.


To give a brief preview and a short prelude to the Biennale, here are some major numbers and general information about this grand phenomenon in the art world:


The artists (and usual suspects)

The 56th Biennale will gather around 136 artists, of which 88 of them will be participating for the first time. 159 works were created specially for this year’s edition. There also will be a number of established and already in the previous Biennales awarded artists on display, such as Bruce Nauman, Georg Baselitz, Glenn Ligon, Chris Ofili, and Qiu Zhijie.


The artists are coming from 89 countries, compared to 88 in 2013, and 58 in 1997. 29 countries will be in the historic pavilions in the Giardini; also, 29 countries will be in the spaces dedicated to the other various national participations within the Arsenale. 44 Collateral Events will take place in various places around Venice.


Collaborations // Collectives

A wide range of vistas will be presented by 7 collaborations/duets (Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige, Nancy Holt & Robert Smithson, Keith Calhoun & Chandra McCormick, Jennifer Allora & Guillermo Calzadilla, Harun Farocki & Antje Ehmann, Rupali Gupte & Prasad Shetty, Sonia Leber & David Chesworth) and 9 collectives. With special programmes and showcases, this list will include the transcontinental road trip project Invisible Borders: Trans-African Photographers; e-flux Journal that will release one piece of writing each day from May to August in order to create a single final issue; other rapidly emerging artists of Raqs Media Collective, Abounaddara, The Propeller Group, non-profit organization from New York, Creative Time Summit, Gulf Labor, Cooperativa Cráter Invertido and Italian the Tomorrow will also be included.



The diverse list of 136 also includes more than 35 black artists. Following the successful debut by Angola’s Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013, the 2015 edition will muster an unprecedented number of African artists. There will be participants from Algeria, Cameroon, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, the DRC, and Tunisia.


Male / Female Ratio

The male artists remain the majority in comparison to the number of female artists at the 56th Biennale: 54% and 33% respectively, 13% are collaborations or collectives with mixed genders, whereas the 55th Venice Biennale showcased the work of 69% male artists and only 24% female artists, with collectives making up 7%.



The age of art

The age of the artists ranges from 30 to 83. There are 5 artists that are under 30 and 19 artists over 60 years-old. Nidhal Chamekh (30), Ibrahim Maham (28), Helen Marten (30), Mykola Ridnyi (30) and Oscar Murillo (29) are among the youngest participants at the Biennale. The International Art Exhibition is also to pay respect and homage to 14 deceased artists by revisiting their works.



A plethora of artists is spread across the world, albeit the centres of attraction and the cities that have the largest share of artists are New York, London and Berlin.

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