In Anticipation of Missing Something
New national pavilions – Angola, Bahrain, and Holy See – with Gabriella Picone
It’s nearly impossible to see every work of art at the Venice Biennale and although many attempt to complete this glorious task, they often fall short. The biennale is just too monumental with the eighty-eight participating national pavilions, the extensive exhibition hall and hundred subsidiary events spread around the city. Inevitably there are always going to be one or two forgotten national pavilions tucked away in the pockets of the city or an installation by an emerging artist located on the second floor of a hidden palazzo that is missed.
This year’s 55th Venice Biennale, “Il Palazzo Enciclopedico” curated by Massimilano Gioni, is my fifth biennale and although with every visit I attempt to complete the unthinkable task of seeing it all, I always find myself reading a review a week later of a piece I overlooked.
I have, however, at each biennale managed to consistently visit the twenty-nine national pavilions that are centrally situated in the Giardini. These buildings that are allocated to specific nations, consist of predominantly European countries and have nearly all coexisted since the first Venice Biennale 118 years ago. What I seem to always overlook are the new participating pavilions that are often located in the outskirts of the main exhibition. Ironically these countries, that are harder for me to point out on a globe, are equally difficult for me to track down in the windy streets of Venice.
Hence for this 55th biennale, I fought my natural inclination to visit the Giardini and Arsenale first and instead to venture into the city of Venice to explore the newer and often less established national pavilions…
Mariam Haji, The Victory, 2013, installation view, Pavilion of the Kingdom of Bahrain, In a world of your own, 55th International Art Exhibition, Il Palazzo Enciclopedico, la Biennale di Venezia; photo by Italo Rondinella, courtesy by la Beinnale di Venezia. Image at top: Edson Chagas, Pavilion of Angola, Luanda, Encyclopedic City, 55th International Art Exhibition, Il Palazzo Enciclopedico, la Biennale di Venezia; photo by Italo Rondinella, courtesy by la Beinnale di Venezia.