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About this collection

The Venice Art Biennale, established in 1895, is a biannual international art exhibition held in Venice, Italy. It is one of the largest art exhibitions in the world and it showcases the most contemporary global direction of art. For over a century, artists from around the world have gathered to display works from their countries and to collaborate in exhibitions with artists from other nations. Artists are typically chosen to represent their home countries in these national pavilions. The collateral events are exhibits that run throughout the Biennale and are given special distinction but are not part of the Biennale exhibition. They may be collaborative and multinational. Today, the Biennale attracts over 300,000 visitors.


The title of the 2015 Biennale is "All the World's Futures". This was chosen by the 56th International Art Exhibition curator, Okwui Enwezor. The title encompasses a set of Filters through which artists and curators are encouraged to engage with the event; this year, the Filters are "Liveness: On epic duration", "Garden of Disorder", and "Capital: A Live Reading".


In 2015, the nations of Grenada, Mauritius, Mongolia, Republic of Mozambique, and Republic of Seychelles participated in the Biennale for the first time. Nations returning to participate after extended absenses include Ecuador (1966, then with the IILA), the Philippines (1964), and Guatemala (1954, then with the IILA). There are 89 participating nations in total.


The Central Pavilion, also known as the Giardini, houses the national pavilions of participating countries. One of the standouts in 2015 is the pavilion of the Republic of Armenia. Its exhibit, Armenity/Haiyutiou: Contemporary artists from the Armenian Diaspora,earned Armenia a Golden Lion award for Best National Pavilion. The exhibition of artwork continues from the Giardini to the Arsenale, where Okwui Enwezor has curated artwork by over 136 artists from 53 countries.


Because the Biennale is so dynamic and responds directly to the contemporary artistic, social, and political climate, there is exciting variation from year to year. For instance, the theme of the previous Biennale in 2013 was Il Palazzo Enciclopedia, The Encyclopedic Palace. Biennale curator Massimilano Gioni was inspired by an imaginary museum where all knowledge is held. The idea came from Mario Auriti, who tried to patent this idea in 1955. Gioni used this idea to push artists to their immaginative limits and show what their individual and collective worlds consist of.


In 2013, the United States of America won the Golden Lion for Best National Pavilion with its exhibition, Bruce Nauman: Topological Gardens. Other pavilions were noteworthy for their innovative use of mediums, including a light display in the New Zealand pavilion, sound manipulation in the Polish pavilion, elm trees in the Belgian pavilion, and a striking combination of sculpture, video, and other materials in the Argentinian pavilion. Some countries expressed their messages particularly poignantly through their mediums: war, treaties, and cooperation/tension came to light in the pavilions of Ireland, France, Germany, Cyrpus, and Lithuania. 


New to the Biennale in 2013, Tuvalu presented a vibrant display of sculptures around Venice. Artists representing Tuvalu created eco-art pieces of ‘animal refugees’ to point to environmental issues such as global warming that effect Tuvalu directly. In 2015, Tuvalu presents an exhibit titled Crossing the Tide that addresses the threat of rising sea levels as a result of climate change. These issues are close to the heart of the island nation of 12,000. The exhibits are examples of how the international art stage allows contemporary issues to be expressed to the global community.


This E-Biennale project is an ongoing collection of materials from Venice Art Biennale events. Materials in the collection date back to 2009 and the collection is updated with each Biennale. Materials are garnered from CDs, flash drives and websites. Items in the collection range from press kits to photographs. Audio and video clips are newly available within the collection, which adds a more tangible dimension to exploring the Biennale from afar.


This collection is restriced to on campus use only


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