Go See: Venice Biennale- Viva Arte Viva 2017

Holly Attzs

Insights Student Editor

Holly visited The Venice Biennale this summer. She takes some time to talk about experiencing the main sites – Giardini and Arsenale – and picks out some of her favourite artworks across the Biennale.

Giardini welcomes visitors to an evergreen exhibition, an artistic and sensory experience yet to be matched. The blissful Venetian garden, Giardini della Biennale may only be paces away from the teal waters; with its labyrinth of canals and timeless bridges, yet, its gates behold an escape to the ethereal parkland, which could not feel further from Piazzetta San Marco, Venice’s much photographed main square.


Feature image- Credit: ‘Proper Time: though the dreams revolve with the moon’, 2017. 668 clocks, Lee Wan, dimensions variable. Installation view with for a better tomorrow, Korean pavilion, Giardini, 57th Venice Biennale. 57th Venice Biennale. Photograph, Holly Attzs.


Giardini and the Korean Pavilion

Credit: ‘Venetian Rhapsody – the Power of Bluff’, 2016-17, Cody Choi, installation view, Korean Pavilion, Giardini, 57th Venice Biennale. Photograph, Holly Attzs.
An organic microcosm of cosmopolitan life, beneath the canopy you will find 30 national pavilions, many of which were designed by prominent architects of the twentieth-century. Disparate in style, though beautifully distinctive nonetheless, the pavilions are situated between scaling trees and are sculpted within fragrant plants.

Find out more about The Korean Pavilion on Design Boom


Giardini Central Pavilion

Credit: La Biennale, Viva Arte Viva, Giardini Central pavilion, 57th Venice Biennale. Photograph, Holly Attzs.
From the grand spectrum of national flags darting across the soft white columns, visitors are welcomed to La Giardini main building; each individual pavilion is a space curated to celebrate each participating country and the work of the exhibiting artist.

Explore the full list of pavilions on the Venice Biennale website



Credit: ‘Escalade Beyond Chromatic Lands’ 2016-17, Sheila Hicks, installation view, Arsenale, 57th Venice Biennale. Photograph, Holly Attzs.
Needless to say, the second part of La Biennale, Arsenale, is equally as astonishing. Behind fading pastel buildings, lie winding streets afloat. Its entry is almost disguised- the vast military ground, occupying a former dockyard and armouries- a place in its own right of significant architectural interest.

Find out more about Sheila Hicks’ work via the Biennale’s YouTube channel


Arsenale and the Russian Pavilion

Credit: ‘Good Intentions’ (2017), Irina Korina, Installation view, Arsenale, 57th Venice Biennale. Photograph, Holly Attzs.
Of the 20 different countries exhibiting in Arsenale, a far more sombre and political stance is taken within the artist’s works, particularly in the Russian Pavilion.

Find out more about Irina Korina and other Russian artists at the Biennale on Artnet


Journey through the exhibition

Credit: ‘www 12.03.1989 06.08.1991, 2017’, Brigitte Kowanz, close up of installation, Austrian Pavilion, Giardini, 57th Venice Biennale. Photograph, Holly Attzs.
It is almost impossible to explain the concept explored across La Biennale. Quite simply, there isn’t just one. Christine Macel, Curator of this year’s event describes it as ‘a route that moulds artist’s works’ essentially creating a journey which ‘unfolds over the course of nine chapters, beginning with the ‘Central Pavilion: the Pavilion of Artists’ and Books’ and the ‘Pavilion of Joys and Fears’ and is continued throughout Giardini and Arsenale.

Find out more about Brigitte Kowanz ‘s work on Design Boom


In and around Venice

Credit: ‘Golden Tower’, James Lee Byars, Grand Canal, 57th Venice Biennale. Photograph, Holly Attzs.
Even beyond the gates of the La Giardini and the walls of Arsenale, expect to step off the vaporetto (water bus) and come face to face with colossal sculptures as well as pop-up artworks both interwoven and jarringly placed, in and around the streets of Venice. Overwhelmingly immersive, La Biennale almost transcends the word ‘exhibition’, to a space where beyond the constraints of a gallery space, art is omnipresent.

Find out more about ‘Golden Tower’ on Design Boom


Art that asks questions

Credit: ‘ Scene Change’, Grisha Bruskin, Installation view, Russian Pavilion, 57th Venice Biennale. Photograph, Holly Attzs.
The 57th International Art Exhibition, ‘Viva Arte Viva’ is an eclectic union of culture, contemporary art, performance, dance, music, history and film, which comments on our world’s complex physical fabric. It poses a spectacle of questions regarding humanity. There’s a multiplicity of visually and conceptually compelling works on show here. Give yourself time to move between the spaces and see everything- it’s imperative.

Find out more about the Russian Pavilion on Artsy


It’s reassuring to know La Biennale Arte Venezia can be payed a visit until 26 November 2017. There’s still time to wallow in the silent mist, silhouettes of spires and palaces of the lagoon city, the most evocative backdrop for all whom may find themselves passing down the Canale Grande.


Until 26 November 2017
One entrance ticket to Giardini and Arsenale- 25 euros
One week pass- 40 euros
Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy


Can’t make it to the Biennale? As well as the articles we’ve linked to here, there’s plenty others that will bring the event closer to you:

Highlights of Biennale: Telegraph
Dezeen picks the best works to see

Watch Holly’s video which captures the detail of some of the artworks featured in this article

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