Venice Biennale director Christine Macel promises artist-centred exhibition

Called Viva Arte Viva it will feature more female and non-Western artists


The director of the next Venice Biennale, Christine Macel, says that she is creating an exhibition “designed with the artists, by the artists and for the artists”, and talked yesterday in Venice of “reflection”, “individual expression” and art having “a spiritual dimension”.

Macel announced that the exhibition she will mount in the Central Pavilion in the Giardini and Corderie in the Arsenale will be called Viva Arte Viva (13 May to 26 November 2017). Like the titles of most Venice Biennale exhibitions it is deliberately allusive, but it indicates a significant change in direction after the last edition curated by Okwui Enwezor. All the World’s Futures (2015) had, as one of its underlying themes, the violence of capitalism: among the works by more than 100 artists, there were clusters of knives on the floor by Adel Abdessemed, a video of a vomiting man by Christian Boltanski and public readings of Das Kapital. The president of the Venice Biennale, Paolo Baratta, said that after Enwezor’s biennale “which centred on the many rifts and divisions of our contemporary world” he had chosen a curator “committed to emphasising the important role artists play in inventing their own universes and in reverberating generous vitality towards the world we live in”.

Macel, who is the chief curator of contemporary art at the Pompidou in Paris, indicated that there will be more women, an emphasis on forgotten artists, and explorations of work from Latin America, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Russia.

Macel was speaking at the headquarters of the Venice Biennale in front of the representatives of the 57 official national pavilions also taking part. While the list of her artists is still to be revealed, many of the national pavilions are now known. These include Tracey Moffatt representing Australia, Xavier Veilhan (France), Phyllida Barlow (UK) and Mark Bradford (US).