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Embracing the Enlightenment
The very title of the 54th International Exhibition of Art in Venice, is an engaging one and immediately declares its intention to disclose something relevant, throwing light beyond boundaries and definitions...


Published on Thursday, June 2nd, 2011
ILLUMInazioni (Enlightenments) is the title of the 54th International Art Exhibition in Venice which will be opened to the public on June 4th. The title, within its graphic play, implements a dual semantic reference: the light, part of the classical Venetian art history, and the concept of nationality. The latter, as pointed out by the first time woman Director, Bice Curiger, should not be understood with a conservative sentiment. The new Biennial, far from being 'nationalist', is animated "by a spirit that transcends national boundaries, in an era in which artists themselves have multifaceted identities and have become aware migrants." The intention is to focus on a core of skills and powers in the art domain to show and make possible new understandings of the word ‘community', looking at similarities, differences and contrasts, as a high value for our future. On the other hand, the figure of Tintoretto, painter of light, stands as the symbol of a tradition that builds a bridge between the art of past and present. The Venetian painter’s presence will be felt in the exhibition as three of his works are presented and moreover artists such as Monica Bonvicini, Nicholas Hlobo, James Turrell and Christopher Wool have grappled directly with themes inspired by the Sixteenth century master.


The 54th Biennial also has a record number of participating countries, respectively exhibited in their halls, which in this edition will touch the peak of 89 nations. A sense of global outreach is made apparent as Andorra, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh and Haiti are participating in the Biennale for the first time. There is a tangible desire at the event to prove there is a community beyond the nation, where the means of artistic expression speaks a common language. Artist Norma Jeane, born in the United States, who lives and works ‘everywhere’, represents an example for all. There are artists born in the 60s and 70s, with some exceptions made by the young on one side and the most experienced on the other. The dynamic aggregation and collaboration between artists is put in place when the director relies on four artists - Monika Sosnowska, Franz West, Song Dong and Oscar Tuazon – each one to complete the creation of a space, a "parapavillion", in order to host the works of their colleagues. The aim is to create an effective vision determined by the intertwining and overlapping communication between different works and forms of expression.


The two artists, Franz West and Sturtevant, who, in the course of their careers have distinguished themselves for the topicality of their work content, "in conjunction with other intellectual fields”, will be awarded with the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement. The prize will be awarded on June 4th in the Biennale Gardens.
Enlightenments can also be taken in the sense of a stroke of genius, epiphanies and revelations, where important elements are revealed. The guideline recognizes an ethical dimension of curatorial work, taking the load, not only to stage, but also to explore the values to pursue and those to obscure.

curated by martina adami

From June 4th to November 27th, 2011
54. International Art Exhibition - Illuminations
Venice, Giardini and Arsenale
Opening Hours: 10:00 to 18:00, closed on Mondays (except Mondays, June 6th, Aug. 15th, Oct. 31st and Mondays, November 21st, 2011)
Info: T +39 041 5218 828, F +39 041 5218 732 -


Reserved Reproduction