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Hands up! Who’s going to Venice Biennale?

Yes, the Biennale is back, and you have until 24 November to explore the delights of a vast range of international art, alongside the beauty of Venice.

Lorenzo Quin’s hands at the 2017 Biennale
Biennale 2017

The 2019 Biennale opened on 10 May, and the glimpses I’ve seen in the media so far mean that I have to get there again this year. The supportive hands rising out of the Grand Canal were one of the particularly memorable pieces for me, in the 2017 displays. And this year, Lorenzo Quinn is back with more hands, Building Bridges. This time he has created six pairs of giant hands, representing friendship, wisdom, help, faith, hope and love, which have been erected across the entrance to the Arsenale.

Biennale 2017

Needless to say, there is plenty more to see in the 2019 festival, much of which is controversial and generating responses at the extremes of joy and despair; and love and hate.

Biennale 2017

The much coveted Golden Lion has been awarded to the Lithuanian pavilion, which features a giant beach scene that is slowly consumed by pollution. The tourists lounging on the beach sing an almost hour-long opera, and judging by the reviews I’ve read this is a not-to-miss artwork. You can watch a very short clip here.

On the not-so-loved list of entries, is the Swiss-Icelandic artist, Christoph Büchel’s, Barca Nostra, the shipwrecked fishing boat that sank in the Mediterranean in 2015, drowning hundreds of migrants who were being trafficked from Libya to Europe. The wreck has been fished out of the sea and is on display as part of Biennale 2019.

Arsenale, November 2017

For a more detailed overview of this year’s displays, click here. Add to that the wonderful settings of some of the pavilions ( I adore the Arsenale), the beauty of Venice as a whole, and the tasty Italian food and wine, and the Biennale should be high on your 2019 to-visit-list.




Copyright Debbie Smyth, 16 May 2019

Posted as part of Cee’s B&W

18 replies »

  1. That was an enjoyable post and I discovered Venice Biennale to the list of things to check out. I just saw the photographs of the hands this year and they look mighty impressive plus the news mentioned Banksy’s incognito presence too. Just wondered whether any of the attractions are free?


  2. I, too, attended the Biennale in 2017. The Lorenzo hands were one of many impressive sights I enjoyed. I knew the purpose of the hands was to emphasize climate change, but I thought they represented that of a drowned person; hands clinging to the building as the waters rise.

    Thank you for the memory

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love these giant hands – crawling out of the lagoon or holding up the house?
    No idea – but the Biennale is forever etched in my mind with a song. You remember “It was an itsy bitsy teeny weenie yellow polka dot bikini”? It was a hit in Germany as well and the second verse goes like this:
    It was a the Biennale in Venice.
    A photographer mistook her for a star.
    But later it was in the papers
    that the bikini was cause of it all.
    It was her itsy bitsy teeny weenie Honolulu beach bikini (no yellow polka dots in Germany!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Brilliant! I didn’t know the biennale lyrics.
      The hands were supposed to be supporting the buildings, to stress the need for environmental care, where the effects of pollution, etc. have a serious and obvious effect.

      Liked by 1 person

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