Best of: La Biennale di Venezia 2013

I went to Venice to attend the opening of the 2013 Biennale last week, and despite the dreary weather and the long lines in front of everything of interest, I’m already planning to go again in two years. Nevertheless, the exhibition “Il Palazzo Enciclopedico” in the Arsenale and the Central Pavillon, that was curated by Massimiliano Gioni, and the more than 80 participating countries with exhibitions in the Giardini and in spaces spread all over the city, is still on view until November and should be a must-see for everyone interested in contemporary art.

Venice is all plastic glasses. Also, champagne was often Prosecco at this year's openings.
Venice is all plastic glasses. Also, champagne was often Prosecco at this year’s openings.

Although there is just too much to see in only four days (considering there’s a lot of opening parties with people like DJ Chloé and Nicolas Jaar playing one needs/wants/should attend), I worked hard on getting a least a peak at everything, managing to take notice of at least two of three awarded contributions: Tino Sehgal received the Golden Lion for the best artist with his performance in the Central Pavillon and Camille Henrot won the Silver Lion for a promising young artist with her video work Grosse Fatigue, on view in the Arsenale. While I guess everyone thought France would receive the Golden Lion for the best national participation with their impressively perfect installed video work of Anri Sala, the price was awarded to Angola, an exhibition I’ve not managed to visit.

If I had to decide for an absolut favorit, it would be this: S.S. Hangover by Ragnar Kjartansson
If I had to decide for an absolut favorit, it would be this: S.S. Hangover by Ragnar Kjartansson. This boat ferried back and forth between two docks while the musicians repeated a short piece.

I am giving you a photo tour of my personal favorites in Venice. What is missing is the video work of Hito Steyerl How Not To Be Seen. A Fucking Didactic Educational .Mov File, that I didn’t manage to take a good photo of. You’ll find it at the back-end of the Arsenale area.

Ai Wei Wei's piece for the German pavillon (housed in the French pavillon this year).
Ai Wei Wei’s piece for the German pavillon (housed in the French pavillon this year).
Anri Sala's Ravel Ravel Unravel for the French Pavillon created the longest lines, but the wait was worth it. It's quite likely, that it won't ever be installed as perfectly as here. So go queue.
Anri Sala’s Ravel Ravel Unravel for the French Pavillon created the longest lines, but the wait was worth it. It’s quite likely, that it won’t ever be installed as perfectly as here. So go queue.
Another personal highlight was the section curated by Cindy Sherman at the Arsenale – this are works by Paul McCarthy and John DeAndrea
Another personal highlight was the section curated by Cindy Sherman at the Arsenale – this are works by Paul McCarthy and John DeAndrea
Cindy Sherman exhibits parts of her photo-album collection in the section she curated at the Arsenale
Cindy Sherman exhibits parts of her photo-album collection in the section she curated at the Arsenale
I certainly didn't get this performance of Tino Sehgal, nevertheless he won the Golden Lion for the best artist.
I certainly didn’t get this performance of Tino Sehgal, nevertheless he won the Golden Lion for the best artist.
One of my favorit sound pieces: Konrad Smolenski's "Everything was forever, until it was no more" in the Polish Pavillon
One of my favorit sound pieces: Konrad Smolenski’s “Everything was forever, until it was no more” in the Polish Pavillon
My favorit performance was happening in the Romanian Pavillon – Alexandra Pirici and Manuel Pelmus re-staged an immaterial best-of of past Biennales with five performance artists.
My favorit performance was happening in the Romanian Pavillon – Alexandra Pirici and Manuel Pelmus re-staged an immaterial best-of of past Biennales with five performance artists.
John Bock's performance "Above the point of glowing Silence" happens at the very back-end of the Arsenale area, don't miss it!
John Bock’s performance “Above the point of glowing Silence” happens at the very back-end of the Arsenale area, don’t miss it!
Alfredo Jaar installed a repetitively drowning and surfacing model of the Giardini in the Chile Pavillon. His son Nicolas Jaar played at the official opening party.
Alfredo Jaar installed a repetitively drowning and surfacing model of the Giardini in the Chile Pavillon. His son Nicolas Jaar played at the official opening party.
Camille Hernot's "Grosse Fatigue" video work won the Silver Lion and was also amongst my personal favorites.
Camille Hernot’s “Grosse Fatigue” video work won the Silver Lion and was also amongst my personal favorites.
The Lithuanian and Cyprus Pavillon shared one impressive building this year: a giant concrete gymnasium.
The Lithuanian and Cyprus Pavillon shared one impressive building this year: a giant concrete gymnasium.

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  1. Sasha on

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    I cannot wait to see this year’s Biennale. I think that Massimiliano Gioni is quite a unique character.

    What was the piece by Tino Sehgal that won? I’m guessing it was a new work?

    1. Mary Scherpe on

      I actually don’t know the title, couldn’t find it anywhere… It’s a new work, two to four performers sitting on the floor and singing weird tunes to each other and … dancing or moving to the sounds. Felt quite actor’s class to me, all feeling the music, the room and the people surrounding and moving awkwardly according to those feelings…

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