Venice Biennale 2015: Order and Chaos

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My latest article for Cool Hunting.

Okwui Enwezor—the curator of the 56th Venice Biennale, themed as “All the World’s Futures”—has accomplished a very difficult task in selecting artists for this year’s event. Famous names are exhibited alongside emerging artists in a colorful, bold and thought-provoking collection of pieces that will stun visitors over the next seven months. Chaos seems to prevail in many artists’ visions of the future, particularly in the Arsenale venue where spaces are narrow and rough materials are in abundance. Yet there are perspectives that revolve around order and clarity, displaying information in truly artistic ways. Like everything in the world, the contrasts are aplenty, and pieces that seem chaotic have elements of order, while those that appear meticulously organized show hints of bedlam.

Katharina Grosse’s “Untitled Trumpet, 2015” is a hectic (but obviously thought-out) display of texture and color, with acrylic on fabric, soil and aluminum debris scattered throughout the installation. Viewers are standing in front of a painting, but instead of using a paintbrush, Grosse prefers to shoot color onto her installations using air compressor and spray gun. Inside this room, the sensation is majestic yet destabilizing; there is a sense of messy playfulness that contrasts with the feeling of walking through a wreckage.

“The Key in The Hand” is a site-specific installation by Chiharu Shiota, where visitors walk around two boats and under an intricate net of red yarn from which 160,000 keys hang. Those keys—sourced from all over the world—have been collected just for this artwork and the effect is breathtaking. Natural light is filtered through the yarn, resulting in the space being permeated by hauntingly beautiful red-tinged shadows.

Quebec-based trio BGL (Jasmin Bilodeau, Sébastien Giguère and Nicolas Laverdière) surprises with “Canadassimo,” for which a grocery store, a small apartment and an artist’s studio have been recreated using recycled objects. The studio is particularly stunning; full to the brim with dripping paint cans, haphazardly stacked atop one another in a colorful rainbow of mayhem.

Vietnamese-American multimedia artist Tiffany Chung uses oil and ink to make tiny, delicate and meticulously created paintings on paper. When viewers read the works’ titles, it’s evident these pieces are more than decoration; they are infographics conveying statistics regarding refugees, wars, revolutions and invasions all over the world.

Kutluğ Ataman is a filmmaker whose productions focus on his Turkish origins and the concept of individuality. The work on display at La Biennale is a portrait of epic dimensions. Nearly 10,000 LCD panels make up “The Portrait of Sakıp Sabancı,” a Turkish business magnate and philanthropist who passed away in 2004. The panels show passport-sized portraits of people who knew Sabancı or whose life was positively affected by his presence.

Sarajevo-born, Paris-based Maja Bajevic’s work “Arts, Crafts and Facts” utilizes Bosnian embroidery techniques that are traditionally used to make carpets and blankets. Bajevic has created graphic representations of the fluctuations of stock markets, wages, corporate profits and productivity to make visually digestible points about labor, economics and globalization.

Annunci