Venice biennale I: Arsenale

Venue: Arsenale, Venice

Lens: Sigma 35 mm f/1.4

Lightroom preset: Old Polar

Music: Richard Wagner – Tristan und Isolde, Prelude (

It was long overdue that I post my photos and share my impressions from last year’s contemporary art biennale in Venice. I visited it more than one year ago but (hopefully) still remember something about the exhibit, so I’ll try to guide you through the photos with my comments. The art exhibits at the biennale are staged in two separate venues, Arsenale and Giardini, in two slightly different formats – a mix of various artists put together by the main curator under the name “Viva Arte Viva”, versus pavilions organized on country-basis, respectively. So let’s start with the Arsenale where the curators had mixed a number of various styles and artists in a series of big exhibition halls, with a few country pavilions towards the end.

We start with these sneakers turned into flower pots. They were part of a bigger installation with various types of shoes and plants growing out of and around them.
Some particular artistic visions of fashion, I guess (we’re still in Italy after all).
An interesting series of tilted screens and videos of colorful balloons over water. All the balloons eventually pop, at various times.
An empty room with a circular violet light, creating a mystical feel to the experience.
A bigger open space with rocks and mirrors put in random places. At times it was quite hard to understand whether you’re walking towards a mirror or towards a rock behind an empty frame..
“One thousand and one night.” A beautifully staged performance by Edith Dekyndt, where a person sweeps dust into the lit up part of the floor of an otherwise completely dark room. This was at the end of the “Viva Arte Viva” part in the Arsenale, after which the exhibits were ordered by countries, similar to the Giardini exposition.
The country pavilion of Italy, where the first floor was a vast array of mummified bodies staged in an eerie fashion.
The top floor of the Italian pavilion, created such that the floor and the ceiling seem like an almost perfect mirror image of each other. There is no mirror or any other trick though, and the size is really enormous.
A picture suspended from the ceiling of the Chinese pavilion.
Still in the pavilion of China (even if the labels are in Italian) – a mannequin positioned to stare at a piece of heavy equipment, possibly out of a ship or a submarine.
“No pain like this body” and “No body like this pain”, again part of the common exhibit.
“The horse problem”, a statue of a girl and a huge horse by Claudia Fontes, part of the Argentinian exhibition.
A prison-like installation in the Turkish exhibit (provided I again remember correctly). This was towards the end of the Arsenale part, while most of the country exhibits were staged at the Giardini (and thus in my next post).