Venice Biennale's engaging art still worth the plane trip, tourists and pigeons

artists, Venice art tours

25 October 2019
Icelandic Pavilion, titled Chromo Sapiens and created by Shoplifter/Hrafnhildur Arnardottir

Icelandic Pavilion: totally immersive and dreamlike space

Visiting Venice is always magical... Despite the increased number of tourists, you can still find quiet places and lovely Venetians who are not too cynical about the city that they live in.

I have just returned from the 58th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia or Venice Biennale, titled May You Live in Interesting Times, with walk to art Venice.

The event was curated this year by American born Ralf Rudoff, who selected 79 artists to exhibit two works each – one in the Arsenale and the other in the Giardini. There were also 89 National Pavilions, 29 of those were in the Giardini and the others were scattered throughout Venice.

This was the first time that I enjoyed the Arsenale over the Giardini. The plywood structures used to divide the long building created a sense of warmth and a clear path for viewers.

As for the National Pavilions, the standouts were the Lithuanian Pavilion, winner of the Golden Lion, and the Icelandic Pavilion on Giudecca.

The Icelandic Pavilion (photo above), titled Chromo Sapiens and created by Shoplifter/Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir, was an immersive cavernous environment of synthetic hair covering the walls and ceilings, graduating from dark to light with accompanying trance like music. It was a place to sit, meditate and absorb. It was a totally immersive and dreamlike space... a wonderful experience for all.

Lithuanian Pavilion, titled Sun and Sea (Marina), and created by artists Rugile Barzdziukaite, Vaiva Grainyte and Lina Lapelyte

Lithuanian Pavilion: visual and performance based act

The Lithuanian Pavilion, titled Sun & Sea (Marina), and created by artists Rugile Barzdziukaite, Vaiva Grainyte and Lina Lapelyte, was also an immersive performance installation that allowed the viewer to look down on a man-made beach filled with holiday makers, people relaxing on the beach contemplating their life and their vacation, as they sung a contemporary opera. It was both a visual and performance based act engaging the viewer on many levels. The only downside was the 2-hour wait in the queue!

There is always so much to see, some not so good, some excellent, some outstanding and only a few breathtaking works that will never leave you. But it is worth the very long plane trip, the large tour groups and the pigeons that fly very low!