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Venice Biennale 2019

© Photo: Haupt & Binder / universes.art

58th International Art Exhibition, la Biennale di Venezia

11 May - 24 November 2019
Press Preview: 8 - 10 May 2019

Title: May You Live in Interesting Times

Curator: Ralph Rugoff

The 58th International Art Exhibition will be titled May You Live in Interesting Times, after a [supposedly] Chinese saying referring to periods of uncertainty, crisis and turmoil; "interesting times," exactly as the ones we live in today.

Curator Ralph Rugoff explained his choice as follows:

"At a moment when the digital dissemination of fake news and 'alternative facts' is corroding political discourse and the trust on which it depends, it is worth pausing whenever possible to reassess our terms of reference. 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. Artists who think in this manner offer alternatives to the meaning of so-called facts by suggesting other ways of connecting and contextualising them."

"May You Live in Interesting Times will aim to welcome its public to an expansive experience of the deep involvement, absorption and creative learning that art makes possible. This will entail engaging visitors in a series of encounters that are essentially playful, taking into account that it is when we play that we are most fully 'human.' This will mean tweaking aspects of the Exhibition format where possible to make sure they are sympathetically aligned with the character of the art being presented."

complete statement

President Paolo Baratta stated:

"Through the appointment of Ralph Rugoff as Curator, we meant to contribute and give further formal clarity to the idea that we have nurtured in the last twenty years about the role of La Biennale and especially of the Art Exhibition."


"In 1998, on this very same date, July 16, the reformed Biennale appointed Harald Szeemann as first curator of the new Biennale. This choice was suggested by the very history of the institution. The Art Exhibition traditionally resulted from the coming together of several exhibitions, each one with its own theme and curators. In 1980, one of these sections was titled Aperto (Open), a name that encapsulated a different atmosphere of openness to the world; this was also curated by Szeemann, among others. It is unsurprising that his first Biennale in 1999 was titled dAPERTutto (APERTO overALL). The germ of the 1980 exhibition thus grew into the International exhibition."

"We are committed to the principle that the institution must be a machine for desire whose mission is to buttress and boost our need to see further beyond, a need that art can help us fulfill. But the Biennale should also be the place where each single visitor is strongly encouraged to come face to face with the work of art. The institution, the places, the works selected by the Curator, their spatial display, the atmosphere that the institution can create, all of these must contribute to building favourable conditions that allow visitors to feel engaged when meeting the artwork, as if they were players on a fencing strip, ready for a bout."


Like for all editions since 2001, Universes in Universe will publish an extensive Special about the 58th International Art Exhibition, la Biennale di Venezia.

About news in our Venice Biennale 2019 Special and other areas of UiU informs our   free Newsletter

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Organizer, contact:
La Biennale di Venezia
Art and Architecture
Ca' Giustinian
San Marco 1364/A
30124 Venezia, Italy
Website | Email

Visual Art Press Office:
Tel.: +39 41 - 5218849 / 846 / 716

From press information.
Photo Paolo Baratta & Ralph Rugoff: © Courtesy of La Biennale di Venezia
Photo on top: © Haupt & Binder, UiU

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