Venice Biennale Italy

City states at the Biennale


Lars Nittve, M+ Executive Director (left), Lee Kit (middle), and Chow Yung-ping Chief Executive of the HKADC (right) at the Venice Biennale announcement. Courtesy of Hong Kong Arts Development Council (HKADC) and M+

While there are high-profile new arrivals at this year’s Biennale, including the Vatican, other small states have been forced to pull out or have faced debate over their selection process. Last year, Singapore’s National Arts Council elected not to take part in 2013, amid concerns over costs and its standard of presentations at previous Biennales (it has taken part six times since 2001). “As contemporary art is still in a developmental phase in Singapore, the impact of our participation has been varied,” Yaacob Ibrahim, then the arts minister, said in 2012. Its ministry of culture has said that the city-state will participate in 2015, however. San Marino, a microstate, is also not participating after a recent change in government left organisers little time to produce an exhibition for Venice. It plans to take part in 2015.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong—a special administrative region of China, and so not able to present an official national pavilion—is participating in a collateral event, “You (you)”, by the artist Lee Kit. The show has been organised by Lars Nittve, the executive director of the M+ museum who was invited to participate by Hong Kong’s Arts Development Council. Last year, curators and artists attacked the appointment of Nittve and Lee, claiming the decision had been made behind closed doors. Curators had previously been chosen after an open invitation for proposals. “We shouldn't confuse our longing for political democracy with artistic democracy,” Nittve told the South China Morning Post last year. According to the newspaper, the council is reviewing its election system.

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