The 57th International Art Exhibition, titled Viva Arte Viva, opened to the public on Saturday, May 13. We were lucky to have press credentials so we headed to the Giardini on May 11 to check out the sprawling international group exhibition curated by Christine Macel (France), before checking out the 86 National participation historic Pavilions, which were located at the Giardini, at the nearby Arsenale warehouse space, and also proliferating across the city of Venice in satellite locations.

Here is some of the work that we saw on the first day in the Main Pavilion.

Photos by Cara Ober, Kelly Zimmerman, and Sherri Fisher.

Lawn Installation by Paolo Bruscky

Porch hanging sculpture by Sam Gilliam, American (Drape Painting)

Performance on Porch of PavilionMladen Stilnovic – Artist At Work series

Dawn Kasper, American: Installation and Site Specific Performance, an amazing spot for a recording studio, under the dome. (above and below)

Snack Bar! Rina Banerjee, India, video

Kiki Smith, American

Franck Leibovici, French – Installation
Franz West, Austrian
John Latham, Zambia

Katherine Nuñez and Issay Rodriguez, Philippines

John Waters, AmericanFirenze Lai, Hong Kong

Hajra Waheed, Canadian – Small negative glass slides, collaged photos, and wooden shelves (detail below)

Marwan, Syria – Oil PaintingsMcArthur Binion, American – paper and oil stick on board (detail below)

Wallpaper by Edi Rama Andy Hope, Germany – Video, Installation, and Paintings

Olafur Eliasson Collaborative Maker Space

Workshop Artistico! AKA: Maker Space! Check out 3D Printers…

Hassan Sharif – Is it a shop or a collection?

We ran into familiar faces! BMA Curator Kristen Hileman and Trustee Sue Cohen

Official Text for The International Exhibition VIVA ARTE VIVA:

The Exhibition offers a route that unfolds over the course of nine chapters or families of artists, beginning with two introductory realms in the Central Pavilion in the Giardini, followed by seven more realms to be found in the Arsenale and the Giardino delle Vergini. There are 120 invited artists from 51 countries; 103 of these are participating for the first time.

“La Biennale must present itself as a place whose method—and almost raison d’être—is dedicated to an open dialogue between artists, and between artists and the public.”

This is how Paolo Baratta, President of La Biennale di Venezia, presents Biennale Arte 2017, explaining that “the 57th Exhibition introduces a further development. It is as though what has always been our primary work method—encounter and dialogue—has now become the theme of the Exhibition, because this year’s Biennale is dedicated to celebrating, and almost giving thanks for, the very existence of art and artists, whose worlds expand our perspective and the space of our existence.”

“Christine Macel has called it an Exhibition inspired by humanism. This type of humanism is neither focused on an artistic ideal to follow nor is it characterised by the celebration of mankind as beings who can dominate their surroundings. If anything, this humanism, through art, celebrates mankind’s ability to avoid being dominated by the powers governing world affairs. These powers, if left to their own devices, can greatly affect the human dimension, in a detrimental sense. In this type of humanism, the artistic act is contemporaneously an act of resistance, of liberation and of generosity.”

“There is another aspect of the 57th Exhibition – states Baratta – which alone qualifies it, above and beyond all the themes or narrations: of the 120 artists who have been invited to the Exhibition by our curator, 103 are participating here for the first time. Some are discoveries; many others, at least for this year’s edition, are rediscoveries. And these courageous choices, too, are a concrete expression of our confidence in the world of art.”

“This year, direct encounters with the artists have assumed a strategic role, to the point of becoming one of the pillars of La Biennale, whose program is of unprecedented size and commitment. Our curator’s main Exhibition is surrounded by the 86 pavilions of participating countries, each with its own curator, which will once more bring to life the pluralism of voices which is a hallmark of La Biennale di Venezia.”

Christine Macel has declared:
“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. Art is the last bastion, a garden to cultivate above and beyond trends and personal interests. It stands as an unequivocal alternative to individualism and indifference.”

“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 artists, by artists and for artists.”