Skip to Main Content


Venice Art Biennale 2017

Artistic Inspiration

Often referred to as the "Olympics of the Artworld," the 57th Venice Biennale opened recently, showcasing the work of hundreds of international contemporary artists. From performance art, to the world famous pieces and lesser known artists, the Venice Biennale is the world’s most prestigious contemporary art exhibition.


Ca Giustinian Venue at Venice Biennale

Running until November 26th, 2017, there’s plenty of time to visit the biennale. In addition to eighty-six official national participants showing in the country pavilions in the Giardini, at a former shipyard called the Arsenale, and in off-site locations throughout Venice, there are hundreds of collateral events in historic piazzas, churches and museums throughout the city and on the surrounding islands. Below are a few must-see exhibitions.

Canadian Pavilion

Knowing that the crumbling pavilion is to be replaced for the next biennale, artist Geoffrey Farmer was given free reign to rip out the ceilings and walls for “A way out of the mirror," installing a giant water fountain as its centerpiece. Unpublished press photographs dating back to 1955 that depicted a collision between a train and a lumber truck driven by his grandfather inspired the piece — with 71 brass planks, reminiscent of the lumber that was scattered at the scene of the accident. Other elements — including 3D-printed sculptures cast in aluminum and bronze — tell stories ranging from the relations between Italy and Canada after the Second World War to the artist’s own familial trauma.



"A way out of the mirror"
Geoffrey Farmer

French Pavilion

Artist Christian Marclay and MAMCO Geneva director Lionel Bovier have curated Xavier Veilhan’s brilliant "Studio Venezia," transforming the French Pavilion into a recording studio that visitors can wander through — seeing instruments, equipment and musicians performing and recording their work. Numerous instruments have been integrated into this beautifully constructed space, which allows musicians from different horizons and genres to work on site, either individually or collaboratively. Visitors are invited to listen, watch and bear witness to the musical creations in progress.



"Studio Venezia"
Xavier Veilhan

USA Pavilion

American artist Mark Bradford has turned the stately Palladian-style USA Pavilion into a ruin. Visitors are greeted by litter scattered across the gravel outside, before entering the pavilion through a side door. The video, sculpture and paintings in “Tomorrow Is Another Day” includes a bulbous red and black mass hanging from the ceiling where it appears to have given way, and the central rotunda now has peeling and patchy walls. Los Angeles-based Bradford intends for the crumbling pavilion to address the discrimination of black, gay and other marginalized groups, particularly in America today.



“Tomorrow Is Another Day”
Mark Bradford

British Pavilion

Numerous sculptures, many of them massive and misshapen, in Phyllida Barlow’s “folly” fill the entire British pavilion and spill outside. Her giant, often precarious-looking sculptures are constructed from everyday stuff —cardboard and concrete, plastic sheeting and wooden off-cuts, gaffer tape and polystyrene — which is vigorously manipulated and often vividly painted to form energetic, rumbustious environments. While some are dark gray, others are in bold pink, red or orange — all arranged to encourage visitors to explore.



Phyllida Barlow

Chilean Pavilion

Chile’s contribution to the biennale is the striking “Werken” by Bernardo Oyarzun, a large installation of 1000 ritual Mapuche masks (kollong) occupying the center of the room. The masks were made one-by-one by forty Mapuche artisans who live in different communities in southern Chile, from a direct relationship established by the artist with each of them. Each mask is supported by rods of natural iron and the perimeter walls of the room are surrounded with LED signs showing the 6,906 Mapuche surnames still in existence.


Bernardo Oyarzun

New Zealand Pavilion

Several years in the making, "In Pursuit of Venus" is a cinematic re-imagining by Lisa Reihana of the French scenic wallpaper "Les Sauvages De La Mer Pacifique," (1804-1805), also known as Captain Cook’s voyages. This was an 1806 collaboration between wallpaper manufacturer Joseph Dufour et Cie and designer Jean-Gabriel Charvet. Almost 250 years after the original voyages that inspired them, Reihana employs 21st-century digital technologies to recast and reconsider the wallpaper from a Pacific perspective. The results are outstanding and mesmerizing from start to finish.


“In Pursuit of Venus”
Lisa Reihana

The Venice Biennale runs through Nov. 26, 2017. For more information, visit