Must-See Exhibitions During the 2024 Venice Biennale

From spatial collaborations and retrospective exhibitions to major pavilions led by indigenous artists, the 2024 edition is slated to be the largest Biennale to date.

Art
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The Venice Biennale, the world’s longest running contemporary art exhibition, returns for its 60th edition this week. The nearly seven month event will be curated by Adriano Pedrosa, the first individual chosen for the honor from South America, and will include 331 artists exhibiting around the theme “Stranieri Ovunque — Foreigners Everywhere.”

Conceptually framed around migration, identity and displacement, Pedrosa believes this year’s edition has multiple meanings: “wherever you go, and wherever you are, you will always encounter foreigners. They—we—are everywhere. Secondly, no matter where you find yourself, you are always truly and deep down inside a foreigner. …Yet, one may also think of the expression as a motto, a slogan, a call to action, a cry of excitement, joy, or fear: ‘Foreigners Everywhere.’”

The 2024 edition of the Biennale comes with exciting firsts and its fair share of controversy. Starting with the former, indigenous artists will lead several of the biggest pavilions, including Jeffrey Gibson (USA), Glicéria Tupinambá (Brazil) and John Akomfrah (Great Britain). While on the latter end, the organizers behind the exhibition, much like the art world as a whole, has been criticized regarding the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas, for allegedly showing a “double standard” to Israel, who has a permanent pavilion in the Giardini exhibition space, as opposed to the ongoing condemnation of the Russian pavilion which has been barred from participating in the festival since its 2022 invasion of Ukraine, as well as a rejection of artists and institutions who claim they have been censored for showing support of Palestine.

Since the beginning, art has always been used as equal parts personal expression and political vessel, making this iteration of the Venice Biennale — with an array of pertinent issues attached — arguably the most important edition to date. The 2024 Venice Biennale officially commences on April 20 to November 24, 2024 at a number of historic 15th century palazzos across the city. For those planning to attend, check out Hypeart’s guide for must-see exhibitions and learn more about programming here.

“Are We The Aliens_”, Arne Quinze x Swizz Beatz

Swizz Beatz has firmly cemented his presence within the art world through an ongoing exhibition showcasing he and spouse Alicia Keys’ art collection at the Brooklyn Museum. For the Venice Biennale, Swizz Beatz worked with Belgian contemporary artist Arne Quinze on a spatial exhibition entitled Are We The Aliens_.

The show is the first held at the 16th century church, San Francesco della Vigna, and is co-curated by Fondation Louis Vuitton advisor Hervé Mikaeloff and art consultant Reiner Opoku. Quinze will debut a series of new large-scale ceramic sculptures made in collaboration with Berengo Studio and Atelier Vierkant, complemented by an ethereal soundscape created by Swizz Beatz especially for the occasion.

“The process of marrying sound to art is a special one,” the music producer said in a statement. “Creating this sonic experience with Arne Quinze, every second is important, every sound has meaning, the combination takes you on a journey of expression. This will be a Sonic installation for the world to enjoy.”

Are We The Aliens_ will be on view from April 20 to November 24, 2024.

San Francesco della Vigna
Calle S. Francesco, 2786,
30122 Venice, Italy

“Unapologetic WomXn: The Dream is the Truth,” Curated by Destinee Ross-Sutton

American curator and gallerist Destinee Ross-Sutton returns to Venice with a new group exhibition that celebrates female sexuality through the eyes of 33 international artists. Entitled “Unapologetic WomXn: The Dream is the Truth,” the show centers around how women navigate the world, unimpeded by systemic barriers posed in male dominated spaces, such as a women’s proverbial place in society.

“Artists reflect the times we live in,” mused Ross-Sutton. “Art should make you feel — it can provoke a sense of peace or shake you, asking you to confront your ideas, otherwise, is it not simply decoration? Are women only decoration, objects?” Featuring a range of artists from differing backgrounds and age groups, including Monica Kim Garza, Gill Button and Deborah Roberts, amongst others, the exhibition examines each participating figure’s varying ethnic, social and economic background, how it shapes womXnhood, ultimately driving the notion that a woman can “be” whatever they desire.

European Culture Center at Palazzo Bembo
Riva del Carbon, 4793,
30124 Venice, Italy

“Robert Indiana: The Sweet Mystery”

A comprehensive retrospective exhibition on the acclaimed American artist and printmaker Robert Indiana will take place at Venice’s Procuratie Vecchie. Presented by Yorkshire Sculpture Park, The Sweet Mystery will chronicle Indiana’s 60 year career, including early studies, his iconic LOVE series of sculptures to previously unseen works.

“This exhibition meticulously navigates Indiana’s masterful use of self-referentiality to delve into profound metaphysical questions about the nature of life,” wrote curator Matthew Lyons. “Through a thematic selection of works, the exhibition serves as a portal, introducing a new generation of viewers to Indiana’s distinctive and transcendental Pop perspective, as they confront their own pressing existential dilemmas in this century.”

Recently renovated by Pritzker-prize winning architect David Chipperfield, Procuratie Vecchie will play host to 40 paintings and sculptures that demonstrate Indiana’s lifelong exploration into the perseverance of the human condition.

Procuratie Vecchie
Piazza San Marco, 105,
30124 Venice, Italy

“In Praise of Black Errantry” by Unit

London’s Unit gallery is set to showcase a group exhibition by 19 Afro-diasporic artists that celebrates Black radical imagination. Entitled In Praise of Black Errantry, the show was inspired by Martinique-born French writer and philosopher Édouard Glissant, who theorized errantry as a form of freedom and resistance.

Featuring new and existing works by artists Jean-Michel Basquiat, Stacey Gillian Abe and Hank Willis Thomas, amongst others, the exhibition asks: “How has errantry been employed aesthetically and politically as a form of Black dissent? How do incidental encounters of the itinerant or the arbitrary inform technical and formal innovations as well as other artistic freedoms? How do the terms of disobedience and waywardness figure in the art of the Black diaspora?”

The exhibition is curated by Indie A. Choudhury with assistant curator Kelsey Corbett and will be on view at the Palazzo Pisani S. Marina.

Palazzo Pisani S. Marina
Calle de le Erbe, 6104
30121, Venice

“The Spirits of Maritime Crossing”

Palazzo Smith Mangilli Valmarana will play host to a group show entitled The Spirits of Maritime Crossing. Presented by The Bangkok Art Biennale (BAB) Foundation, 15 artists from the Global South, which includes countries such as Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar and Singapore, will reflect on themes pertaining displacement and colonialism, through the lens of sea travel.

Mapped across painting, sculpture, film and performance, the exhibition forges a dialogue between Venice and Bangkok, the latter city sometimes referred as the “Venice of the East” because of its similar canal systems and way of life. Artists within the show include the acclaimed Serbian conceptual artist Marina Abramović, Indonesian performer Melati Suryodarmo and Khvay Samnang, Bangkok-based artist Jakkai Siributr, Burmese artist Moe Satt and Singapoean artist Priyageetha Dia.

Palazzo Smith Mangilli Valmarana
30100 Venice, Italy

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