MuseumVenice Biennale 2019 - May 11th – November 24th - INTRODUCTION

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Open to the public from Saturday May 11th to Sunday November 24th 2019, at the Giardini and the Arsenale, the 58th International Art Exhibition, titled May You Live In Interesting Times, will be curated by Ralph Rugoff and organized by La Biennale di Venezia chaired by Paolo Baratta. 

The Exhibition will develop from the Central Pavilion (Giardini) to the Arsenale, and will include 79 artists from all over the world.

Ralph Rugoff has declared: «May You Live in Interesting Times will no doubt include artworks that reflect upon precarious aspects of existence today, including different threats to key traditions, institutions and relationships of the “post-war order.” But let us acknowledge at the outset that art does not exercise its forces in the domain of politics. Art cannot stem the rise of nationalist movements and authoritarian governments in different parts of the world, for instance, nor can it alleviate the tragic fate of displaced peoples across the globe (whose numbers now represent almost one percent of the world’s entire population).»

«But in an indirect fashion, perhaps art can be a kind of guide for how to live and think in ‘interesting times.’ The 58th International Art Exhibition will not have a theme per se, but will highlight a general approach to making art and a view of art’s social function as embracing both pleasure and critical thinking. The Exhibition will focus on the work of artists who challenge existing habits of thought and open up our readings of objects and images, gestures and situations. Art of this kind grows out of a practice of entertaining multiple perspectives: of holding in mind seemingly contradictory and incompatible notions, and juggling diverse ways of making sense of the world. Artists who think in this manner offer alternatives to the meaning of so-called facts by suggesting other ways of connecting and contextualising them. Animated by boundless curiosity and puncturing wit, their work encourages us to look askance at all unquestioned categories, concepts and subjectivities. It invites us to consider multiple alternatives and unfamiliar vantage points, and to discern the ways in which “order” has become the simultaneous presence of diverse orders.»

The Exhibition will also include 90 National Participations in the historic Pavilions at the Giardini, at the Arsenale and in the historic city centre of Venice. Four countries will be participating for the first time at the Biennale Arte: Ghana, Madagascar, Malaysia and Pakistan. The Dominican Republic exhibits for the first time at the Biennale Arte with its own national pavilion. The Italian Pavilion at the Tese delle Vergini in the Arsenale, sponsored and promoted by the Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali - Direzione Generale Arte e Architettura Contemporanee e Periferie Urbane, will be curated this year by Milovan Farronato.

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The Jury of the 58th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, comprising Stephanie Rosenthal (President of the Jury, Germany), Defne Ayas (Turkey/Netherlands), Cristiana Collu (Italy), Sunjung Kim (Korea), and Hamza Walker (USA), has decided to present the following awards:


Golden Lion for Best National Participation:

Sun & Sea (Marina)
Lina Lapelyte, Vaiva Grainyte and Rugile Barzdziukaite
Commissioner: Rasa Antanavičıūte. Curator: Lucia Pietroiusti.
Venue: Magazzino No. 42, Marina Militare, Arsenale di Venezia, Fondamenta Case Nuove 2738c


A special mention has been awarded to the following National Participation:

Mondo Cane
Jos de Gruyter & Harald Thys
Commissioner: Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles.
Curator: Anne-Claire Schmitz.
Venue: Giardini


Golden Lion for the Best Participant in the International Exhibition May You Live In Interesting Times to:

Arthur Jafa
(b. 1960 USA, lives and works in Los Angeles)


Silver Lion for a Promising Young Participant in the International Exhibition May You Live In Interesting Times to:

Haris Epaminonda
(b. 1980 Republic of Cyprus, lives and works in Berlin)


The Jury has decided to award two special mentions to the following participants:

Teresa Margolles
(b. 1963 Mexico, lives and works in Mexico City and Madrid)

Otobong Nkanga
(b. 1974 Nigeria, lives and works in Antwerp)


The Awards Ceremony of the 58th International Art Exhibition took place today, 11th May 2019, at Ca’ Giustinian, Venice. Upon recommendation of the Curator of the 58th Exhibition Ralph Rugoff, the board of La Biennale di Venezia, chaired by Paolo Baratta, also awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement to Jimmie Durham (USA).

The awards of the International Jury have been presented with the following motivations:


Golden Lion for Best National Participation to Lithuania for the experimental spirit of the Pavilion and its unexpected treatment of national representation. The jury was impressed with the inventive use of the venue to present a Brechtian opera as well as the Pavilion’s engagement with the city of Venice and its inhabitants. Sun & Sea (Marina) is a critique of leisure and of our times as sung by a cast of performers and volunteers portraying everyday people.

Special mention as National Participation to Belgium. Unsparing in its humour, the Belgian Pavilion offered an alternative view of the under-recognised aspects of social relations across Europe. The uncanny staging of a series of fictional characters in the form of mechanised puppets based on folkloric stereotypes allow the Pavilion to act on several registers, while creating two if not more parallel realities.

Golden Lion for the Best Participant in the International Exhibition May You Live In Interesting Times toArthur Jafa for his 2019 film The White Album (venue: Central Pavilion, Giardini), which, in equal measure, is an essay, a poem and portraiture. Jafa uses appropriated and original footage to reflect upon the issue of race. Just as the film critiques a moment fraught with violence, in tenderly portraying the artist’s friends and family, it also speaks to our capacity for love.

Silver Lion for a Promising Young Participant in the International Exhibition May You Live In Interesting Times to Haris Epaminonda for her carefully constructed constellations of images, objects, text, forms, and colours that are built out of fragmented memories, histories and imagined connections; for showing us that the personal and the historical can be compressed into a powerful yet loose web of multiple meanings.


This year, two Special Mentions were awarded to the following participants:

Teresa Margolles for her sharp and poignant works that deal with the plight of women grossly affected by the narcotics trade in her native Mexico, and for creating powerful testimonies by shifting existing structures from the real world into the Exhibition halls.

Otobong Nkanga for her ongoing and inspired exploration across media into the politics of land, body and time.



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  • Danish Pavilion, Viale Trento, Castello, Venezia-Murano-Burano, Venice, Venezia, Veneto, 30132, Italy


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    5 out of 5 rating 05-15-2019


  • Ida

    5 out of 5 rating 05-14-2019

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