The Venice Biennale of Art offers art lovers, professionals and aficionados the unique opportunity to see the best (and worst) of art every two years in the city of breath-taking waterways. This year’s 58th International Art Exhibition, titled May You Live In Interesting Times, is curated by Ralph Rugoff (Director, Hayward Gallery, London) with rich offerings in the main curated exhibitions and National pavilions located in both the Giardini and the Arsenale, and various sites across the city. Beyond these main venues, Selections rounded up key collateral events in the selection below:

11 May – 24 November 2019

The exhibition Heartbreak organised by RUYA MAPS director, Tamara Chalabi and curator, Paolo Colombo took Henry Purcell’s classic (operatic) story of Dido and Aeneas as a point of departure for exploring the theme of heartbreak which follows the map of the ancient world from Persia to Rome. This theme is explored in newly commissioned or never before seen artworks by nine contemporary artists. War has long produced collective heartbreak to communities who have experienced and continue to live in areas of conflict, a message most poignantly communicated in Lebanese artist Imad Issa’s fragmented sculptures and videos centred on the Lebanese Civil War and other ongoing regional conflicts. Highlights include Lana Čmajčanin’s new commission,  1 : 1 625 000 (2019) consisting of over 40 maps exploring the many contestations of territory in the Mediterranean area, and Palestinian artist Majd Abdel Hamid memorialisation of the infamous Tadmur Prison’s floor plans with a textile work Tadmur. Heartbreak is a reminder of the tendency of history to continually repeat itself, a reminder of the pain, suffering and heartbreak humans inflict on one and other.

Artists featured Majd Abdel Hamid, Talar Aghbashian, Lana Čmajčanin, Maryam Hoseini, Imad Issa, Farah Khelil, Randa Maddah, Füsun Onur and Christiana Soulou.
Location: Ca’ del Duca, Corte del Duca Sforza, 3052 Venice, Italy



THE SPARK IS YOU: Parasol unit in Venice
9 May – 23 November 2019

London’s Parasol unit descended on Venice with a stellar line up of Iranian artists across different generations and genres living within or outside the country. Curated by Ziba Ardalan, Founder, Artistic and Executive Director of the organisation, THE SPARK IS YOU centred on the need for understanding and co-habitation between different nations and cultures, whilst reflecting on the important legacy of Persian poetry (the exhibition coincides with the 200th anniversary of West-oestlicher Divan West-Eastern Divan, 1819, a book of lyrical poems written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in homage to the fourteenth-century Persian poet Hafez). Standouts in this presentation include Nazgol Ansarinia’s Article 44, Pillars (2016), Article 55, Pillars (2016 and 2017), large-scale sculptural works commenting on the copies of Renaissance architecture in affluent Tehran neighbourhoods; Sahand Hesamiyan’s monumental spiky steel and gold-topped cones, Forough (2016); Morteza Ahmavand’s 3-channel video and sculptural installation Becoming (2015), a work commenting on time and stillness; and 3 large abstract paintings on PVC coated fabric in the venue’s courtyard by Navid Nuur, The Tuners (2019).

Artists featured: Morteza Ahmadvand, Nazgol Ansarinia, Siah Armajani, Mitra Farahani, Sahand Hesamiyan, Y.Z. Kami, Farideh Lashai, Koushna Navabi and Navid Nuur.

Location: Benedetto Marcello Conservatory of Music in Venice, San Marco, 2810 (Campo Santo Stefano)

AFRICOBRA: Nation Time
11 May – 24 November 2019

An explosion of colour and politically charged (mostly paintings) works by Chicago artists from the 1960s and 1970s was presented by bardoLA and curated by Jeffreen M. Hayes (Ph.D.) with the support of the Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami. This was the first major exhibition of AFRICOBRA’s work in Europe. Founded on the South Side of Chicago in 1968 by a collective of young Black artists, whose interest in Transnational Black Aesthetics, AFRICOBRA remains till this day, one of the most distinctive visual voices in 20th Century American art. The signatory AFRICOBRA look—vibrant, “cool-ade” colors, bold text, shine and positive images of Black people was expressed in full force in this exhibition. A must see are the contributions by husband and wife duo Jae and Wadsworth Jarrell and the explosive text incorporated paintings by Gerald Williams, with Say It Loud (2016) as one example and celebration of black pride. More than 40 works are on view by Jef Donaldson, Gerald Williams, Jae Jarrell, Wadsworth Jarrell, Barbara Jones-Hogu, Napoleon JonesHenderson, and Nelson Stevens.

Location: Ca ‘Faccanon, San Marco, 5016 (Central Post Office)

Future Generation Art Prize 2019
9 May – 1 August 2019

The Pinchuk Foundations Future Generation Art Prize occurs every two years and it is a prize to foster, develop and support a new generation of artists age 35 or younger. The 21 exhibited artists from 17 countries were chosen from amongst 5,800 with the main $100,000 prize awarded to Lithuania artist Emilija Škarnulytė for t 1 ⁄ 2 (2019), a video installation dealing with post-human mythology. UK collective Cooking Sections presented CLIMAVORE: For the Rights of the Soil Not to be Exhausted (2019), their expansive research on climate and environmental issues presented as an archival project; and South-African artist, Gabriel Goliath presented an operatic installation commemorating rape victims. Both of these body of work by Cooking Sections and Goliath won the special $20,000 prize. Stand out works not to be missed in this group show include presentations Madison Bycroft, Marguerite Humeau, Eli Lundgaard and Toyin Ojih Odutola.
Other artists exhibited incude Monira Al Qadiri(Kuwait), Yu Araki (Japan), Korakrit Arunanondchai (Thailand), Kasper Bosmans (Belgium), Alia Farid (Kuwait), Rodrigo Hernández (Mexico), Laura Huertas Millán (Colombia), Taus Makhacheva (Russia), Sondra Perry (United States), GalaPorras-Kim (Colombia), Jakob Steensen (Denmark), Daniel Turner (United States), Anna Zvyagintseva (Ukraine) and artist collective Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme.

Location: Palazzo Ca’ Tron, San ta Croce, 1957, 30135, Venice, Italy

Venice Biennial runs until November 24, 2019.