This year’s Venice Biennale promises to be one of the most political. While curator Okwui Enwezor’s central exhibition, All the World’s Futures, talks about “filters” (please don’t let them be on Instagram), early publicity was about making the artists, curator, choreographers, and others into the main “protagonists.” We’ll have to wait and see. Aside from Enwezor’s highly anticipated show, the national pavilions are the focus.
One of the interesting aspects of Venice is that national politics, particularly from emerging countries, are writ large in the art through the selections, inclusions, and even exclusions. Political ambitions dovetail with these cultural displays, so in 2013 it wasn’t a coincidence that Venezuela’s Chavez government hit a populist note with a street art–focused pavilion, while Russia’s entry was literally showering gold on visitors (women only) in a grand display of conceptual might (it’s arguable how successful it was). Each nation projects itself to the world — expect fancy displays from wealthy oil kingdoms eager to suggest a more progressive image, including Azerbaijan, Iraq, Iran, Qatar, Venezuela, the UAE, and others.
This year’s smartphone app choices are more limited than in 2013, but The Art Newspaper has a simple one (Apple only) with a clean design, while My Art Guide (Apple only) has a slightly more cumbersome version.
Here are some notable things to watch.