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The Theme of Biennale Arte 2024: “Foreigners Everywhere”

 

The historical setting of the original idea of Venice’s Biennale is Caffè Florian.

The mayor Riccardo Selvatico is sitting in the Senate Hall with his circle of artist and intellectual friends. They are talking about an exhibition of contemporary art located in various pavilions of the Napoleonic gardens.

A widespread exhibition that would catalyse the best energies of the artistic world and project Venice into a cosmopolitan scenario of art and innovation.

With a resolution by the Venice City Council on 19 April 1893, they officially proposed to establish an art exhibition to be held every two years.

 

1895: The Venice Biennale was born.

 

Since then, the link with the world of contemporary art has been strong at Caffè Florian: in conjunction with the Venice Biennale, an artist is invited to ‘create’, to reinterpret, the space of a historic hall with site-specific installations.

Contemporary art’s connection with the Caffè Florian

 

Since that famous evening in 1893 when the mayor dreamed of a central role for Venice in the world of contemporary art production, the Caffè Florian has been able to follow in the footsteps of that inspiration, projecting itself onto the international scene as a natural venue for welcoming prestigious artists and giving them the chance to express themselves in a treasure trove of 19th-century art.

The various initiatives have allowed the Historical Caffè to project itself into a stream of contemporaneity.

 

Through the editions of “Temporanea – Le realtà possibili al Caffè Florian” artists were invited to interpret one or more of the Florian’s rooms through “site-specific” works, while with the editions of “Unica” glass, photography, painting and poetry found the ideal setting for a universal message as only Art can convey.

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BRUNO CECCOBELLI "Figli d'api" "Temporanea - The possible realities of Caffè Florian", 1988

Among the leading artists of the Biennale Arte who exhibited their works at the Caffè Florian:

Bruno Ceccobelli, an Italian painter who participated in the Venice Biennale in 1986 and 1993, presented the work ‘Figli d’api’ for the ‘Temporanea – Le realtà possibili al Caffè Florian’ in 1988.

Mimmo Rotella (Biennale Arte 1964) created 19 large decolages enriched with overpaintings in all the Halls of  Caffè in 1990: ‘Rotella at Florian’.

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MIMMO ROTELLA "Rotella al Florian" "Temporanea - The possible realities of Caffè Florian", 1990

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MIMMO ROTELLA setting up the exhibition at the Caffè Florian

Pietro Ruffo, who is presenting ‘The Image of the World’ at the Venice Pavillion, created the installation ‘Negative Liberty’ for Caffè Florian in 2011.

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Site specific installation "Negative Liberty" by Pietro Ruffo

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Gaetano Pesce, an Italian architect and designer who took part in the Venice Biennale in 1972, 1976, 1980, 1986, 1996 and 2014, created ‘Un vaso (goto) per Venezia’ (A vase (goto) for Venice) for the Caffè Florian on the occasion of the Temporanea in 1995.

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A vase (goto?) for Venice, Caffè Florian, 1995

He creates a resin object that is both practical, because it can contain, and cultural, because it carries a cultural note from the author: “A toast to Venice, so that she may continue to be a place of modern life, modern behaviour, progress, joy, optimism, discovery, confidence in the future, courage, open to the culture of today’s world…(…)”.

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Fabrizio Plessi, present at the 54th Biennale with “Mari verticali”, realised for Caffè Florian “Cristalli Liquidi” in 1993, “Movimenti dell’anima” in 2001 and a video-installation on the occasion of the 290th anniversary of Caffè Florian in 2010.

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YURI ANCARANI "Rio Grande" "Temporanea - The possible realities of the Caffè Florian", 2017

Yuri Ancarani, an Italian artist and director (Biennale Arte 2013 and Biennale Cinema 2021 among various participations), with his work “Rio Grande, postcard from the borders” brings a political and social reflection on the theme of borders to the Caffè Florian in 2017.

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YURI ANCARANI, "Rio Grande - Postcard from the Borders", (2017)

The 60th International Art Exhibition in Venice will be entitled ‘Stranieri Ovunque – Foreigners Everywhere’ and will be curated by Adriano Pedrosa, artistic director of the Museu de Arte de São Paulo in Brazil.

A glimpse of the artistic avant-garde: a world-class event that gathers artists, visitors and illustrious guests around works of art from all over the world.

 

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Biennale Arte 2024: "Foreigners Everywhere"

The Biennale Arte 2024 will take place from 20 April to 24 November, at the Giardini, the Arsenale and other venues in Venice; it will involve artists from different parts of the globe, with a special focus on emerging ones.

The exhibition aims to explore the different forms of otherness, marginality, migration, exile, indigenism, queer, inclusion, acceptance; concepts that characterise the artistic and human experiences of many artists from the so-called “Global South”.

 

It promises to be a not-to-be-missed event for contemporary art enthusiasts who will be able to confront the many facets of the theme conveyed through the message of Art.

The etymological root of foreigner is the Latin word foris, meaning ‘outside’. The term foreigner was formed by adding the suffix -er, meaning agent, to foreign, which comes from the Old French forain, itself from the medieval Latin foraneus.
Foreigner therefore means ‘one who comes from outside’.

In Venitian dialect foreigner is “foresto”.

In Italian, the corresponding word is straniero, which has the same Latin origin, but with a different suffix: -arius.
Straniero means ‘belonging to another country or culture’.

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The Vision of Curator Adriano Pedrosa

 

The theme chosen by Pedrosa aims to focus on the issues of identity, belonging, migration, inclusiveness, hospitality and otherness that characterise the contemporary world, increasingly globalised and interconnected.
Through Art, we can become aware of the historical events we are experiencing, from post-pandemic to wars with consequent humanitarian crises.

 

The theme is borrowed from a series of works by the Claire Fontaine collective “Stranieri Ovunque – Foreigners Everywhere”: a series of neon sculptures in various colours reproducing “Foreigners Everywhere” in different languages.

The semantic value of the word foreigner is the starting point for a profound reflection on the human being and his essence, on his identity and belonging, or non-belonging.

 

Pedrosa said he was honoured and grateful for this prestigious assignment, especially as the first Latin American and the first curator resident in the southern hemisphere to take charge of the Art Biennale.

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Claire Fontaine collective "Stranieri Ovunque - Foreigners Everywhere"

“Wherever you go, you will always encounter foreigners… no matter where you find yourself, you are always deep down inside a foreigner”

 

(Adriano Pedrosa, Curator of La Biennale 2024)

The Artists and Exhibited Works

 

The works of 332 artists from different parts of the world are divided into two nuclei: the Contemporary Nucleus and the Historical Nucleus.

The Contemporary Core focuses on different readings of the term ‘foreigner’ in relation to questions of migration, inclusion, injustice, environment.

 

Among the invited artists are well-known names such as Pacita Abad, Etel Adnan, Claudia Andujar, Iván Argote, Tania Bruguera, Cildo Meireles, Shirin Neshat, Adrian Piper, Walid Raad, Doris Salcedo, Kara Walker.

 

The Contemporary Core also hosts a special section dedicated to Marco Scotini’s Disobedience Archive project: a collection of videos, documents and materials testifying to practices of resistance and civil disobedience around the world.

 

The Historical Core, on the other hand, consists of 20th century works from Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Arab world, in a reinterpretation of global modernism. The works are grouped into three sections: Portraits, Abstractions and Italian Artistic Diaspora (Artists in the Italian diasporic section include Lidy Prati, Bona Pieyre de Mandiargues, and Nenne Sanguineti Poggi).

Among the artists present are Zubeida Agha, Dia al-Azzawi, Miguel Alandia Pantoja, Aloïse, Giulia Andreani, Rafa al-Nasiri, Affandi, Mariam Abdel-Aleem, to name but a few.

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Roberto Cicutto and Adriano Pedrosa (photo by andrea avezzu, courtesy of La Biennale di Venezia)

The international nature of the Biennale makes it a privileged observatory on the state of the world through the transformation and evolution of the arts.

 

Roberto Cicutto
President La Biennale di Venezia

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Exhibitions Embracing Contemporary Art

 

As always, the Arsenale and Giardini will be the main venues of the Venice Biennale, but the exhibition curated by Pedrosa and the ninety national pavilions will be accompanied by thirty collateral events spread throughout the city and a special section in Forte Marghera dedicated to the work of Italian artist Nedda Guidi.

 

At the Japanese Pavilion Yuko Mohri who will reference the pandemic, Venice’s 2019 floods, climate protests, positing the false dichotomy, ‘which is more valuable, art or life?’ The work will take the form of rotting fruit attached to electrodes that generate light and sound.

Representing Great Britain is John Akomfrah who devotes his video installations and films to the themes of racism, social injustice, environmental crises and post-colonial heritage.

Jeffrey Gibson represents the United States: the first artist of Cherokee descent. Sculptures, paintings, installations with which he wants to “change the way people think about indigenousness”.

But the uniqueness of the Biennale lies above all in the real presence of the National Pavilions (the historic ones at the Giardini, and more recently those that have been added at the Arsenale and in some of the city’s spaces), which make it a place unlike any other for the confrontation between the arts and the changes in society. Participations this year reach a very high level, with 90 countries to which 30 Collateral Events are added.

 

Roberto Cicutto
La Biennale di Venezia President

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Related Events and Initiatives

 

 

In addition to the main exhibition, the Biennale offers a series of related initiatives, promoted by national and international organisations and institutions, which will be held in various venues in the city of Venice and on the mainland. These events enrich the Biennale’s cultural offer, presenting original and innovative projects, ranging from exhibitions to installations, from conferences to performances, from workshops to laboratories.

This year’s edition features projects from Bangkok, Barcelona, Berlin, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Düsseldorf, Gangneung-si, Göttingen, Gwangju, Hanover, Hong Kong, Lagos, London, Long Beach, Macau, Madrid, Mumbai, New York, Palestine, Paris, San Juan, Seoul, Taipei, Toronto, Venice, Wakefield, Warsaw, Wonju-Si.

 

Among the related events to the Biennale Arte 2024:

 

Above Zobeide: an exhibition organised by the Macao Museum of Art, featuring works by Macao and international artists, inspired by the imaginary city of Zobeide, described by Italo Calvino in The Invisible Cities.

 

City of Refuge III: a solo exhibition by Belgian artist Berlinde De Bruyckere, hosted in the Abbey of San Giorgio Maggiore, which proposes a reflection on the concept of refuge, both material and spiritual.

 

Cosmic Garden: an exhibition curated by the Chanakya Foundation, showing the works of Indian and international artists, who deal with the relationship between nature and technology, ecology and spirituality.

The Biennale is like a journey to that part of the planet that the Eurocentrism of our culture had so far represented poorly, at least in Venice.

For more information on events and initiatives related to the Biennale Arte 2024, you can visit the official website Biennale Arte 2024 | Biennale Arte 2024: Stranieri Ovunque – Foreigners Everywhere (labiennale.org)

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