The 59th Venice Biennale opens its doors

APA / AFP / Vincenzo PINTO

Curator Cecilia Alemani in front of the bronze sculpture of Simone Leigh “Brick House” in the second large environment of the Biennale, former Arsenal.

New York-based curator Cecilia Alemani has invited 213 artists from 58 countries with more than 1,500 works to the “Milk of Dreams” exhibition. The title turns into a children’s book by surrealist artist Leonora Carrington (1917–2011), which depicts in it a magical world that is constantly reinventing itself through the imagination.

In the entrance area of ​​the central pavilion, Katharina Fritsch’s “Elephant” of 1987 welcomes visitors, whose combination of green color and realistic forms seems to pave the way for the exhibition’s surreal journey. The Düsseldorf artist, known internationally for her sculptures, this year will be awarded a Golden Lion for her work of life.

80 country pavilions in Giardini and Arsenale

Among the awards of the Biennale that will be awarded this Saturday is the Golden Lion for the best national contribution. Queues were already being formed in front of the French pavilion, which was cured by, among others, the two directors of the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin, Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath. Franco-Algerian artist Zineb Sedira uses reconstructed scenes in a mix of documents and fiction to analyze issues of political unrest and feminism.

In the British pavilion, Sonia Boyce shows the power of female singing. The artist and professor of black art and design is considered an important representative in the fight for recognition for female artists and against racism. Equally powerful is the work of Simone Leigh, who gave the American pavilion a thatched roof with a wooden substructure, in which her large-format sculptures confidently thematize the role and awakening of blacks.

Expanding the Austrian horizon

In the Austrian pavilion, Jakob Lena Knebl and Ashley Hans Scheirl address the dystopian circumstances of the present, which are strikingly reminiscent of those of the 1970s, which are being negotiated in the pavilion.

“We are not currently dreaming of a better world,” Secretary of State for Culture Andrea Mayer told a news conference on Thursday about the Biennale’s “Milk of Dreams” motto. On the contrary, it is now more important than in previous years to restore freedom of art and freedom of expression in parts of Europe. Mayer is even more pleased that the exhibition “The invitation of the soft machine and its angry body parts” by Knebl and Scheirl “widens the viewer’s horizon”.

To be honest, it has always been my dream to cure this ward.

For the curator of the exhibition, the head of mummies Karola Kraus, this open scene invites the audience to explore their world of desire. According to Kraus, Knebl and Scheirl played “humorously with the human body” in their works.

Although both use the mirrored architecture of the pavilion for two separate presentations, they also constantly refer to each other in their works.

Scheirl fills the main left room with a walk and introduces visitors deeper and deeper into their cosmos through the flat backgrounds placed one after the other in the room. For example, there is a fluffy tank covered with fluff throwing pills into the room, a golden anus is decorated on the ceiling and on the walls there are large format paintings in which both artists can be found. The works are ironically oriented towards contemplation, exhibitionism and fetishism, which lies in a gold coin cut specifically to resemble Scheirl.

Some glowing 3D printed sculptures greet visitors on the right side of the pavilion designed by Knebl. Here, too, desire is at the forefront when people and things come together. But here the new union of the fields of art and design is also negotiated. In the two back rooms, which are also mirrored, both feature identical but mirrored wallpaper, which features 1970s interiors of kitchens and living rooms. When asked how important it was for them to work together, the answer was short. “We are very happy that we are not here without each other.”

Biennial in the Overview of the War in Ukraine

The Russian pavilion is empty after the artistic team left this year. The building is prominently located on the grounds of the Biennale and is guarded by police at all times to prevent attacks in protest against the Russian attack on Ukraine. Culture workers protested against the war in Ukraine in front of the Russian pavilion on Friday.

Ukrainian actor Alexey Yudnikov made a performance for a few minutes before police officers escorted him away from the Russian pavilion. Yudnikov initially appeared in a long, dark coat and wore a mask reminiscent of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The work “Piazza Ucraina” is set up in a very central place just a few meters away. The works of Ukrainian artists, for example, who are unable to travel due to the war, can be seen around a tower made of sandbags.

Ukraine is also represented with its pavilion. According to Ukrainian designer and sculptor Pavlo Makow, he created a “metaphor for exhaustion.”


Pavlo Makow sees his work for Venice as a “metaphor for exhaustion”.


In his work, water flows through a pyramid-shaped pipe structure, dividing it further and further. Makow sees this as “a link to democratic societies at this time because they are not prepared to defend themselves”.

The German pavilion reaches the end of its history

In the German pavilion, the artist from Berlin Maria Eichhorn has discovered the structure of the building, which was converted by the Nazis, and consequently its history.

German pavilion


Because of its Nazi architecture, the German pavilion has consistently been an occasion for artistic exploration of the past.

In fact, he should not be there at all. Berlin-based artist Maria Eichhorn wanted the German Pavilion, which had been controversial for decades because of its Nazi architecture, simply disappear from its prominent Giardini location overlooking the lagoon and city for the time of the Art Biennale in Venice. Instead of about 1,500 tons of fascist architecture, an empty place to think about dictatorship, resistance and the role of art.

After objections and lack of support from the protection of Italian monuments and German skeptics for the radical thought experiment, the building is still standing. For Eichhorn, however, the very notion of a displacement is part of the work of art. “The temporary relocation of the German pavilion is a work of art that exists even without its physical execution,” writes curator Yilmaz Dziewior, director of the Ludwig Museum in Cologne.

With her work “Relocating a structure”, Eichhorn has already made his past visible in an impressively simple way. “We are in two buildings,” Eichhorn describes the situation. The Nazis did not destroy the building originally built as the Bavarian Pavilion, but expanded it monstrously: a ceiling four meters high, an added apse, strong columns instead of narrow pillars in the mighty portico. Eichhorn had the interfaces discovered. Behind the plaster, the former exterior walls, the old ties, the Nazi concrete over the brick walls are now visible brick crossings.


The 59th Biennial will be open until 27 November 2022. The 15th Biennale will also take place in Kassel from 18 June to 25 September – a strong year for art lovers.

Venice Biennale

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