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Central Exhibition: Viva Arte Viva

57th International Art Exhibition
la Biennale di Venezia

13 May - 26 November 2017

Viva Arte Viva
Central international exhibition

Curator: Christine Macel

Photo tours:

Viva Arte Viva

Christine Macel, the curator of the 57th International Art Exhibition, explaines her project as follows:

Today, in a world full of conflicts and shocks, art bears witness to the most precious part of what makes us human. Art is the ultimate ground for reflection, individual expression, freedom, and for fundamental questions. (…) The role, the voice and the responsibility of the artist are more crucial than ever before within the framework of contemporary debates. It is in and through these individual initiatives that the world of tomorrow takes shape, which though surely uncertain, is often best intuited by artists than others.

Viva Arte Viva is an exclamation, a passionate outcry for art and the state of the artist. Viva Arte Viva is a Biennale designed with the artists, by the artists and for the artists. It deals with the forms they propose, the questions they pose, the practices they develop and the ways of life they choose.

Christine Macel - Video

The nine Trans-pavilions

The Exhibition in the Arsenale and Central Pavilion of the Giardini organically evolves in a sequence of pavilions, offering the spectator a journey, from the interiority to the infinity. These nine Trans-pavilions, which gather artists of all generations and origins, sinuously follow one another like chapters of a book:

The Pavilion of Artists and Books: The material and spiritual worlds of artists, in particular through their relationship with books, texts and knowledge in its broadest sense, which is a recurrent theme in several artists’ works.

The Pavilion of Joys and Fears explores the relationship between the individual and his own existence, his emotions and feelings or the ones he tries to generate.

The Pavilion of the Common in the Arsenale is concieved around the work of artists exploring the notion of the common world and the way to build a community, as a way to counter individualism and self-interests, which represent a worrisome threat in today’s troubling climate.

Likewise, the Pavilion of the Earth is centred on environmental, animal and planetary utopias, observations and dreams.

The Pavilion of Traditions: More and more artists explore not only contemporary or recent history, but also a more distant past, as if fired by the fever of archaeology, excavation, re-interpretation and reinvention.

In the Pavilion of the Shamans, many artists subscribe to the definition of the artist as a “shaman”, and there are also those who become “missionaries”, as per Duchamps’s definition, stirred by an internal vision.

The Dionysian Pavilion celebrates the female body and its sexuality, life and pleasure, all with joy and a sense of humour, and features numerous works created by female artists.

The Pavilion of Colours can be described as the “fireworks” at the end of the journey through the Arsenale, where all the questions presented in the preceding pavilions come together.

The Pavilion of Time and Infinity: In the final chapter the notion of time re-emerges with a new metaphysical quality, within borgesian mazes and speculations of a future that is already embedded in the present, or in an ideal infinity.

More details about each chapter:
Macel’s curatorial statement


Additional events and projects:

Every Friday and Saturday during the six months of the exhibition, artists will host an Open Table (Tavola Aperta) and meet visitors over a casual lunch in two dedicated spaces in front of the Central Pavilion of the Giardini and in the Sala d’Armi in the Arsenale.

A permanent space will also be created in both exhibition venues for the Artists Practices Project, a series of short videos made by the artists about themselves and their way of working. Before the opening, a new video will premiere every day on La Biennale’s website.

The artists of the National Pavilions can also host their own Open Table (Tavola Aperta) event on Wednesdays and Thursdays. They are also invited to join the Artists Practices Project with their videos.

The project titled Unpacking My Library, inspired by Walter Benjamin’s essay published in 1931, allows the artists of VIVA ARTE VIVA to compile a list of their favourite books. While the list will be in the exhibition at the Central Pavilion and published in the catalogue, the books will be available to visitors at the Stirling Pavilion in the Giardini.

Several special, site specific and performance projects have been commissioned especially for the Giardini, the Giardino delle Vergini and other venues around the city of Venice.

full text of Macel’s Statement

(Summarized from press information.
© Photo of Macel: Courtesy La Biennale di Venezia.
© Other photos: Universes in Universe)

Christine Macel - biography

Arsenale di Venezia

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