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A different kind of Biennale 0

Art professionals share their thoughts on the 57th Venice Biennale

Agnese Čivle, Odrija Fišere

When speaking with Belgian art collector Galila Barzilaï-Hollander at the Biennale, she candidly divulged that she doesn’t “read any of these articles on 10 Artists You Should Know, or 12 Artists Whose Works You Should Own. I don’t want to be influenced.” We would like to keep this kind of a neutral attitude as well as we give you, the reader, the opportunity to experience the Biennale with a completely open mind. The following is a compilation of opinions collected from a variety of art professionals, and which we hope will let you make your own conclusions and put together a subjective map of what to see at the Biennale.

Michel Blazy. Collection de Chaussures. 2015–2017. Central International Exhibition – Viva Arte Viva – curated by Christine Macel, in Arsenal. Photo: Agnija Grigule

Exactly 85 national pavilions are presenting exhibits at the Venice Biennale this year, while the Central International Exhibition – Viva Arte Viva – curated by Christine Macel, features 120 artists from 51 different countries. At the focus of the Viva Arte Viva theme is art and artists: art as the last fortress; art as a garden that must be tended in this world overrun with conflict and distress. Art as testament to the most valuable part of us – that which makes us human. Macel poses this theme by dividing the Central Exhibition into nine Transpavilions, i.e., nine sections, each of which reflects its own sub-theme or artistic approach: The Pavilion of Artists, The Pavilion of the Shamans, The Dionysian Pavilion, The Pavilion of Time and Infinity, etc. In gathering opinions on the Central Exhibition, we sensed the following sentiments: incomprehension of the theme’s supposedly simplified and literal execution; and reproach on the lack of a powerful conception; but also, positive validation of the curator’s choice of concept and in the layout of the exhibition.

Whereas the theme of the last Biennale (the 56th) – “All the World’s Futures”, selected by head curator Okwui Enwezor – honed in on the heightening tensions of the world’s socio-political situation, with the Central Exhibition presenting pieces that were truly political and critical-of-the-system in their nature (and which many national pavilions also took to heart), this year’s offering was decidedly less oppositional in character. Instead of political protests and pragmatism, there was poetics, fantasy, spiritual dimensions, inter-planetary civilizations, identity, and humor – not to say that reality was ignored, but it certainly was being looked at from a different point of view. In addition, at this year’s Biennale the presence of women artists was much more palpable, as well as a kind of rethinking of the “official” art history, that is, the one in which male artists have usually dominated.

An overall characterization of the Biennale, and a closeup of the Central Exhibition

Galila Barzilaï-Hollander commented to on the general feeling of the Biennale: “This Biennale is more playful, but at the same time, it speaks of serious things. Often times, the addition of humor or fantasy can make for a much more effective result.”

The curator of Portugal’s national pavilion, João Pinharanda, who has made the Biennale a part of his life for almost 40 years, believes that this Biennale is conducive to the art coming from his country. Having experienced the 1980 Venice Biennale, in which Achille Bonito Oliva curated the phenomenal “Aperto ‘80” exhibition, Pinharanda himself is part of the Transavanguardia art movement. He says that it’s not as if the Biennale has changed by itself – it changes along with the world: “The Biennale is like a seismograph, and perhaps Paolo Barata selected Christine Macel because he sensed this change in direction. He knows that one can speak about serious and acute issues also in this manner.” Pinharanda adds that Macel’s approach is more in line with Portuguese art: “In Portugal, we don’t have a tradition of political art; historically, we are characterized as having a poetic spirit. In Spain’s Reina Sofia Museum, when you see works from the 1960s, they are in opposition to the dictatorship, against Francisco Franco. They are politically very powerful works. Whereas in Portugal, although the artists were also against fascism, this was not reflected in their paintings and sculptures. Even in literature and film – the Portuguese have always approached things differently.”

Sheila Hicks. Escalade Beyond Chromatic Lands. 2016-2017. Central International Exhibition – Viva Arte Viva – curated by Christine Macel, in Arsenal. Photo: Agnija Grigule

The opinion of Zane Onckule, director and curator of the kim? Contemporary Art Centre in Latvia, noticeably contrasts with those above: “This year’s Venice Biennale seems to just continue doing what people expect of it – constructing a new version of art and the world within it, and vice versa. The contribution of the Central Exhibition this year is perplexing because it’s somewhere between nothing and average – it’s exactly the opposite of the kind of reality in which we live today. That’s why I must agree with others who have said that it seems as if Christine Marcel’s version has come too late. It would have been better if it could have somehow switched places with a previous year’s Biennale, for instance, withthe 2015 one, as curated by Okwui Enwezor; his version may have been ambiguous and problematic, but it was dynamic and it unleashed discussions on the reflection of the times, i.e., a period of aggression, in art.

Thu Van Tran at the Central International Exhibition – Viva Arte Viva – curated by Christine Macel, in Arsenal. Photo: Odrija Fišere

Regardless of the curator’s efforts and the choice of theme and artists, this year, a visit to the Central Exhibition in the Arsenale and the Giardini is a challenge to both one’s senses and to the wish to understand what is going on. With every year, the crowds that show up on the preview days (for the press and professionals) are getting increasingly bigger, and to be able to not only feel and understand the works, but to just see them, is becoming practically impossible. In reaction to this, I placed my attention on those works that were less colorful and less dependent on superficial audience-participation, no matter if they were set up right in the middle of the Arsenale, or if they were murmuring their message from some half-hidden corner. For instance, the photographs of Jeremy Shaw, which were protected, adorned and deformed – all at once – by glass that had been beveled like a gemstone; or the melted clothing – flat, two-dimensional leather skins – of Heidi Bucher; or the film-video installation by Sung Hwan Kim, with its imaginative narration as it looks at and melds together, to the point of unrecognition and absurdity, problematic cultural and identity issues – both his own and universal ones.”

Anri Sala. All of a tremble (Encounter I). 2017. Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Chantal Crousel (Paris) Photo: Odrija Fišere

A quite critical position is expressed also by Viktor Misiano, curator and editor of the Moscow Art MagazineChristine Macel’s project, all nine sections of it, consolidates into one the principal mainstream subject matters of the contemporary art industry. It is, however, not the most vulnerable aspect of her exhibition: it is not always that the principal curator of the Venice Biennale manages to base the project on a non-banal powerful idea. The vulnerable aspect of the exhibition is ‒ the exhibition itself. Its facelessness, lifelessness and lack of artistry were the reason why it took me three or four times to spot even artists who were well known to me and for whose works I was specifically looking out for as I viewed the exhibition. As one of the participating artists said to me, ‘It looks like I’ve had the luck to take part in the worst Venice Biennale ever.’”

Egill Sæbjörnsson’s installation, “Out of Control”. Icelandic pavilion

Stefanie Böttcher, the curator of Iceland’s national presentation, once studied in Venice, and in 2001 she worked in the German pavilion, which is the year that its artist, Gregor Schneider, received the Golden Lion for his grandiose installation “Totes Haus u r”. Böttcher reveals that just like Schneider’s piece, which was very specific back then, so is the Icelandic pavilion this year – when her dream of curating a presentation herself has become true: “It is very characteristic for Iceland’s presentations at the Venice Biennale to be very different from both previous presentations and from the Biennale as a whole. Nevertheless, the pavilion does possess several elements that fall in line with Macel’s vision, namely, both Egill Sæbjörnsson and the the head curator have concentrated on the creation of fantasy and parallel worlds. Egill’s work looks at the concept of reality, and fantasy as one of the aspects of reality. The installation is only a part of the presentation – there are also social media campaigns, the development of a merchandising line… We wanted these trolls to become a part of our reality. Is it possible to create their existence? And how does the existence of something come about today? How many of us have ever met, in real life, for example – Putin? How can we know that he really exists? That’s the question – what is it that makes someone real and existing?”

IN THE ARCHIVE: The sound of rocks in my pockets. A conversation with artist Egill Sæbjörnsson, on things that matter 

Jean-Conrad Lemaître. Photo: Agnija Grigule

Other admirers of Macel’s achievement are the French couple Isabelle and Jean-Conrad Lemaître, collectors of video art  who still vividly remember when the Biennale doubled in size with the opening of the Arsenale. They emphasize the head curator’s clear and structured scenography in the halls of the Arsenale, which serve to make each work easy to take in. The pair is especially happy with Marcel’s choices: “The curator included in her exhibition eight artists who are also represented in our collection. From the Central Exhibition, we follow the artists Enrique Ramírez (Santiago/Paris), Marcos Ávila Forero (Bogota/Paris), Marie Viognier (Paris), and Sebastian Diaz Morales (Amsterdam), among others. Two of our artists are also showing in the national presentations – we recently acquired a work by one of the artists being represented by the South African pavilion.”

Mohau Modisakeng’s work “Passage” (2017). South African pavilion. Video: Marina Staris 

Ursula Krinzinger. Photo: Agnija Grigule

In terms of the artists chosen for the Central Exhibition by the head curator, Vienna gallerist Ursula Krinzinger said the following: “When I went through the Arsenale, I was impressed how Christine Marcel was really very consequential with showing a lot of female art, a lot of recoveries on the female sector. Some people like it, some people don’t like it, but I think that finally, you could study what was going on and what is going on. I have always been extremely interested in all shamanic art and shamanic origins; I work with Marina Abramović, and this scene is present in a lot of my work with artists...I always look for these deeper sources. So, the Pavilion of the Shamans was interesting to me. In total, I really think that Christine Macel did a good job because it is different, and I have always thought of her highly. All of the other works which I didn’t mention – it goes up and down – but they are high quality works.”

Ernesto Neto’s work in the Pavilion of the Shamans, at the Arsenale. Photo: Odrija Fišere

Alain Servais. Photo: Agnija Grigule

Belgian art collector Alain Servais: “Regarding the main exhibition curated by Christine Macel, I would say it is interesting. I knew that in this world, today, there are people who take themselves a little bit away from reality – they live in philosophy, read books, do meditation, speak to people, are not too connected to the Internet and so on, have no television at home...these people have an interesting viewpoint of life, which is not the same as the one that many other people have, but at the end of the day, after having visited the Arsenale and the international pavilion, I kind of missed the things that are also a part of us – life, death, blood, love, sex, violence, war – these are also a part of humanity.

In a way, it is a very pleasant experience; it is also a very feminine experience in the sense of the materiality of many of the works. So, it is a very pleasant experience, but I leave without a strong impression and without my heart or my guts being hit very hard. It is a little mundane for an exhibition as a whole, compared to what I expected, but I really enjoyed the whole process.”

The national presentations with the biggest impact

This Biennale is different. Although there will be a slew of people who maintain that there’s nothing new in it, nor anything that takes one’s breath away, we concur with Noemi Givon, a gallerist and art collector from Israel, who says that there is a great struggle going on in the national pavilions – the artists are fighting and putting great effort into creating a new message, and we believe that there are many who will say that this Biennale did differentiate itself.

Anne Imhof performance Faust. German pavilion

Ursula Krinziger: “I was here in a professional capacity because I have several artists in the shows (in the pavilion – Brigitte Kowanz, and in the Arsenale – Kader Attia and Maha Malluh), so I was occupied with that background. Nevertheless, I had time to go through the pavilions in the Giardini and also, as much as I could, in the Arsenale. When I saw the German pavilion, I was sure that they would get the Golden Lion, but I would have loved if it the 90-year-old artist Geta Brãtescu had been awarded the Lion. I have followed her for quite some time, and I think she is one of the most interesting artists; you have to study and to get into her work.”

Geta Brãtescu. “Jocul formelor”. 2012. Collage series on paper. 26.5 x 35.5 cm each. Property of the artist. Romanian pavilion. Photo: Stefan Sava

“But there are other pavilions...I think even our Austrian pavilion, with Brigitte Kowanz and Erwin Wurm, was excellent. We hadn’t had that kind of quality for a long time. The Swiss pavilion, with the film, I think is even more than excellent...and several others, too, such as the Nordic pavilion.

IN THE ARCHIVE: An interview with Austrian artist Erwin Wurm
Three questions for Brigitte Kowanz, one of the artists presenting at the Austrian national pavilion 


Miķelis Fišers. 2017. Oil on canvas. 508 cm x 322 cm. Photo: Valdis Jansons

“I also saw Latvia’s pavilion – I think it is very impressive, as I already knew the artist from my Riga visit. I also liked Croatia’s pavilion with its two positions – also a female position – which took a lot of care to make, and which relied a lot on what the artist found on the streets – such as found footage and the other elements that she put in the sculpture.

ARCHIVE: Miķelis Fišers talks about the most difficult work of his life, which now is on view at the Venice Art Biennale 

“Here you have both the male and the female, which was very interesting and an impressive installation. I think it is a very interesting Biennale. The main pavilion in the Giardini, for example, I really like this year. They brought up artists so that we could rediscover them. I’ll just mention John Latham, the British artist who used to do a lot of socio-cultural work with the Artist Placement Group. You see the books and the big canvases, you can see the high quality of this artist who, I think, we never fully experienced before he died. There you have different approaches that can all be quite fascinating.”

The exhibit of John Latham’s works in the Central Pavilion, in the Giardini. Photo: Odrija Fišere

Alain Servais lists several pavilions that appealed to him: “Some of the highlights, in terms of different pavilions that we really liked, were: the Korean pavilion, which we found very rooted in the reality of the country; we liked Anne Imhof of the German pavilion – the way she played with the architecture of the pavilion; Phyllida Barlow – we enjoyed is spectacular and visible...the way she occupies the pavilion works as well; we enjoyed Theresa Hubart’s video in the Swiss pavilion – the beautiful video about Giacometti and his relationship with the mother of the main hero. We liked the USA pavilion as well – Mark Bradford – not especially for what I saw, but for the way that it spoke.”

Phyllida Barlow’s works in the UK pavilion. Photo: Odrija Fišere

Theresa Hubart and Alexander Birchler. “Flora”. 2017. Video installation. Swiss pavilion. © HB Studio /

“Visually, it was OK, but we particularly liked the way he presented it. We liked Greece as well, very much so – the strange combination of project, reality, not-reality, re-staging, not-re-staging...we really enjoyed it.

IN THE ARCHIVE: An interview with Krasnodar-based art group Recycle

Our favorite was probably Hong Kong. We knew the artist already, but the way he has mixed the subject, and also the visual impact of it, is really unforgettable. We really loved the Russian pavilion as well – the discussion on artificial intelligence; we knew of the Recycle Group beforehand, and we really enjoyed the whole experience – they way they mixed movies with sculptures that they had re-sculpted.”

Mark Bradford’s exhibition at the USA pavilion. Photo: Odrija Fišere

Samson Young. Songs for Disaster Relief. Hong Kong Collateral Event

Collectors Galila Barzilaï Hollander and Noemi Givon. Photo: Agnija Grigule

Noemi Givon, the art collector and gallerist from Tel Aviv, said: “From the countries’ shows that I’ve seen, I get the feeling that art finds itself in a struggle. That it is not simple to make an authentically new and relevant work of art, and that artists are struggling with it. They put in a lot of effort to sustain and to create new messages. And you can see this struggle in most of the pavilions. It might also be a problem of the curators, some of whom understand by now that globalization in art is a flop. Therefore, minorities are getting, in my understanding, too much attention. I wasn’t crazy about the New Zealand pavilion – I found it condescending and hypocritical. Even more so, it feels as if in the general thematic show, both in the Italian pavilion and the one in the Arsenale, there’s an aura of neo-colonialism; besides, there are too many crafty works, in general. That’s why it is no wonder that the German pavilion won two gold prizes – it was for their accuracy of language and their meticulousness.”

Lisa Reihana’s video installation “Emissaries”. New Zealand’s pavilion. Publicity image

The trailer for George Drivas’ video installation “Laboratory of Dilemmas”. Greek pavilion. Publicity materials

“Another thing is, strong countries – like Germany, Britain, and France – have a better force behind them than the smaller countries – you can see bigger budgets, more pretentious works. Also, the British pavilion, for example: at every Biennale they have the same tactic: inside, they show the ultimate works, and outside, in the front – the “blue chips”. The same goes for Sarah Lucas at the last Biennale. France’s presentation is beautiful, although you can feel the power of money and the unlimited budget. Some smaller countries’ pavilions were very good: Romania, Austria, Turkey, Greece, Georgia. My third point is that, in the last few Biennales, I have felt an emphasis on elderly artists. This has improved the quality of these Biennales by a lot. Joan Jonas contributed to the whole stature of the Biennale, and so did Bruce Nauman. We are better off sticking to this trend.”

Brigitte Kowanz’s installation “Infinity and Beyond”, in the Austrian pavilion. Photo: Agnija Grigule

Xavier Veilhan. “Studio Venezia”. 2017. French pavilion. Photo: © Giacomo Cosua © Veilhan / ADAGP, Paris, 2017

Regarding France’s national presentation, Isabelle and Jean-Conrad Lemaître had the following commentary: “It was quite a big surprise for us because we’ve seen many of Xavier Veilhan’s works in sculpture, but this time his interesting concept combines architecture and a recording studio. Fantastic! The Belgian pavilion also seemed good, as did Australia’s and Israel’s.” The latter has also been underscored by Belgian collector Galila Barzilaï-Hollander.

Gal Weinstein’s coffee and sugar installation “Sun Stand Still”. Israeli pavilion. Photo: Odrija Fišere

Just as Isabelle and Jean-Conrad Lemaître were pleased by the validation of their choices, so was  Galila Barzilaï-Hollander: “I liked the Russian pavilion, and I must mention that I had noticed one of the Recycle Group’s artists before others had. This would be one of the highlights of the Biennale for me – confirmation that my choices have been right. I’ve never smoked hashish, but this would probably be my addictive way of ‘getting high’.”

Geta Brãtescu. “Doamna Oliver în costum de călătorie”. 1980–2012. Black and white photograph. 38.9 x 39.5 cm. Photo: Mihai Brătescu. Property of the artist

Stephanie Bothere put the spotlight on Romania’s pavilion, which features the artist Geta Brãtescu – a pioneer in performance art and about whom few had known much up till now. “She has, for all this time, been consistently working on the themes of the body and physicality, and studying their relationship to the surrounding space. This is her time.”

Zane Onckule summarizes: “My list of ‘top’ pavilions has turned out to be those who seem to go against the ‘stagnant’ flow, and who, in their differing executions, give a sense of fulfillment in what one can, and should be able to, look for and find in art. These would include (from the one’s I’ve seen) the pavilions of Cyprus, Romania, Switzerland, and the winner – Germany.”

Vajiko Chachkhiani’s installation “Living Dog Among Dead Lions”. Georgian pavilion. Photo: Odrija Fišere

The head of the ABLV Charitable Foundation’s Art Program, Kaspars Vanags, would like to draw attention to Vajiko Chachkhiani’s exhibit in the Georgian pavilion: “I’ve only seen about a third of the whole program, but on a personal level, I was extremely taken by Georgia’s exposition and their courage to be romantic and old-school. In their work one can see all of my, that is, my generation’s, cultural baggage – they have Tarkovsky, all of the soviet-era films featuring the plays of Chekhov, the veranda where we spent rainy summer afternoons looking out of the window, and even the slowly disappearing wood architecture, which is very close to my heart.”

Bernardo Oyarzún’s installation “Werken”, in Chile’s pavilion. Photo: Agnija Grigule

Andris Brinkmanis, an art critic and curator of Latvian origin based in Milan and Venice, and the Deputy Curator of Albania's pavilion at the 56th Venice Art Biennale, mentions Chile’s pavilion from the start: “Very simple, but effective. The Chinese also had an interesting performance. I also took a look at Italy’s pavilion, and I must say it is probably the biggest disappointment at this Biennale – they’ve spent a huge budget, but it’s anachronistic, necrophilic, and it’s not clear what purpose it had in this case – why did they have to spend such amounts to, in the end, show darkness, emptiness, and pieces that could have been shown after WWII, but which now seem strange?”

Roberto Cuoghi’s installation at the Italian pavilion. Photo: Odrija Fišere

Anne Imhof’s performance “Faust”, at the German pavilion. Photo: Agnija Grigule

Viktor Misiano is ascertained: “The current Biennale is a symptom of the bafflement of art in the face of the complexity of the transitional era in which we all happen to be living right now ‒ or rather not of art, because intelligent and sharp art continues to exist, but of the contemporary infrastructure of art. Going for a vivid authorial project, an unexpected curatorial move, a bold decision ‒ there is almost nothing of it to be found in Venice today. What there is instead is a triumph of bureaucratic fear of risk, and of safe, wingless and bleak exhibitions.”


During the preview days, an absolute sensation turned out to be the German national presentation with Anne Imhof’s performance cycle “Faust”. Word quickly traveled by mouth, and soon enough crowds were forming lines to get into the German pavilion. Those without the patience to wait in line satisfied themselves with watching through a small window the part of the performance that could be seen below the glass floor of the pavilion. However, a pair of dobermans housed in a crate by the pavilion would bark at them every once in a while. Meanwhile, viewers who had gotten inside the pavilion could deeply breathe in the smell of disinfectant, get a feel for the glass (animal) cages, and watch the performers who had climbed upon glass plinths jutting out of the walls. Eventually, they would begin their cycle of movement and activity in various zones of the pavilion, including being seemingly trapped under a glass floor. The overall Faustian leitmotif of hell – freedom, which the observer can interpret as they wish. Quite deservedly, the presentation received the Venice Biennale’s top prize, the Golden Lion.

Grisha Bruskin’s installation “Scene Change” (2016-2017), at the Russian pavilion. Photo: Marina Staris

This year, the Russian pavilion surprised with its white and ascetic aesthetic. It consisted of Grisha Bruskin’s ensembles of white figures reflecting upon the soviet past and the Putinistic present. Recycle Group, which presented at the last Biennale in a satellite program with their ambitious and site-specific installation in Sant’Antonin Church, have for this year’s Biennale poured figures in plaster and titled it “Blocked Content”. The figures represent blocked and frozen “martyrs” whose postings on social media were deemed by someone as being problematic. The exhibition closes with the work “Inner Physics”, by video artist Sasha Pirogova, on the same theme of a technological world in the post-digital era. And once again, the subject the viewer is meant to ponder is freedom.

IN THE ARCHIVE: An interview with Russian artist Sasha Pirogova

Vajiko Chachkhiani’s installation “Living Dog Among Dead Lions”. Georgian pavilion. Photo: Agnija Grigule

The poetic wooden house by Vajiko Chachkhiani, in the Georgian pavilion: in its loneliness, it cries tears of rain that drip in through the holes in the roof, which then soak into the carpet and the vacant bed… it smells of dampness, a bit of mold, of rain, a layer of dust, abandonment and desolation… it immediately brings back memories. Most everyone has experienced something like this. And even if you haven’t, your subconscious tingles as if it has.

Erwin Wurm. “Ship of Fools. (Just about Virtues and Vices in General)”. 2016–2017. Austrian pavilion. Photo: Odrija Fišere 

Austria’s pavilion, on the other hand, let everyone become a part of the historic cult-event of the art world that turned twenty this year – the One Minute Sculpture. Austrian artist Erwin Wurm has prepared “molds” for One Minute Sculptures which become complete only when the observer takes part in them – either by sitting, kneeling, lying down, or through some other unusual bodily contortion. And if you want to see what’s going on in the Giardini area from a bird’s-eye view, you can climb up a lorry that’s been propped up on its nose. The other artist featured in the pavilion, Brigitte Kowanz, combines light and mirrors to create infinite, non-material virtual spaces that make the viewer find their place in them.

The national pavilions’ competition – Collateral Events

Besides the national exhibitions, which are largely concentrated in the territory of the Arsenale and the Giardini (with a few exceptions), the Venice Biennale also offers a parallel satellite program, titled Collateral Events, that consists of independent exhibitions scattered throughout the city.

The exhibition “The Boat Is Leaking. The Captain Lied.” A view of the exhibition. Fondazione Prada. Photo: Delfino Sisto Legnani e Marco Cappelletti

Art collector and gallerist Noemi Givon is of the opinion that there are quite a few important satellite projects that tend to steal some of the limelight away from the Biennale itself. From the ones that Givon has seen, she chose to point out the Udo Kittelmann-curated show “The Boat Is Leaking. The Captain Lied.” at the Fondazione Prada. “An excellent and prophetic exhibition featuring collaboration between the artist Thomas Demand, author and director Alexander Kluge, and costume artist Anne Viebrock.”

From the left: Yoruba culture. A zoomorphic mask depicting a snake. 18th - 19th century, Nigeria. Painted wood; Ellsworth Kelly. “Pour Mr. Maeght”. 1959. Canvas, oil; Pierre Alechinsky. “Cobra Vivant”. 1996. Mixed media. The exhibition “Intuition”. Palazzo Fortuny. Photo: Odrija Fišere

A work by Tomás Saraceno in the exhibition “Intuition”. Palazzo Fortuny. Photo: Odrija Fišere

Givon also had admiring words to say about the exhibition “Intuition”, curated by Axel Vervoordt and Daniela Ferretti, at the Palazzo Fortuny. The show studies the meaning of intuition in the creation of artworks in various regions, cultures and generations around the world; the featured works address dreams, telepathy, fantasies about paranormal phenomena, meditation, creative power, hypnosis, and inspiration. “And, of course, I’d also like to raise to the forefront the influential, and actually – very contradictory, exhibitions by Damien Hirst; I’d say the best one is the one at Punta della Dogana.”

It should be mentioned that, among the art professionals present, Hirst’s show has been rated very inconsistently – garnering everything from pure adoration to utter disappointment. Admittedly, the falsification of history that Hirst has created does, due to its grand scale and clever plot points, leave an unforgettable impression. And they do say that most of the works have already been sold...

Damien Hirst’s sculpture “Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable”. The exhibition at Palazzo Grassi. Photo: Odrija Fišere

IN THE ARCHIVE: Guide to the programme of satellite exhibitions and independent exhibitions during the 57th Venice Biennale