Venice Biennale 2024 is open!

The 60th edition of the Biennale is now open in Venice and will run through to November. It’s a celebration of contemporary art with numerous locations across the city of Venice and two permanent locations in the Giardini Gardens and the former ship-building yards of Arsenale. The Curator for the 2024 event is Adriano Pedrosa – he is from Brazil where he is the Artistic Director of the Sao Paulo Museum of Art. He is the first Latin American to curate the Biennale. He has chosen for his theme ‘Stranieri Ovunque‘ or ‘Foreigners Everywhere‘ with a special emphasis on the Southern Hemisphere, the so-called Global South.

‘Foreigners Everywhere’ – is a clear message to the visitor that we are all ‘outsiders’ or ‘foreigners’ and that we can all feel like strangers outside our familiar daily context. Even the word ‘stranieri’ in Italian can be translated in a variety of ways; foreigners, strangers or even ‘not from around here’. Immediately I think of Albert Camus and his novel L’Etranger – a novella about an outsider, first published in the 1940s. In fact the words ‘Stranieri Ovunque’ have been used for many years by Claire Fontaine, an artistic collective based in Palermo. They in turn borrowed the expression from a political group in Torino, active in the early 2000s. It’s an interesting concept designed, slightly counter-intuitively, to include everyone and to expand our thinking and hopefully our levels of tolerance.

This year’s Biennale includes more than 300 artists and a rich tapestry of exhibits and installations spread across Venice. Most people start in the ‘Giardini’ where the national pavilions are based. This year the normally stark white, brutalist entrance portico to the ‘Giardini’ is alight with colour and vibrancy. A group of artists from the Huni Kuin collective based in the western part of the Amazon Basin have created a tropical forest scene featuring a crocodile bridge. It’s bright, it’s colourful, it’s inviting.

Venice Biennale 2024 entrance re-imagined – photo by Matteo de Mayda

Photos by

This year’s Biennale is rich in exhibitions both inside and outside – there’s so much to discover and explore. To really appreciate and discover The Biennale you need at least two full days (more really). The event is spread over two main sites and a third scattering of events across the city:

  • Giardini (The Gardens) – where the national pavilions are……
  • Arsenale – the ship yards and warehouses of Venice
  • Churches, palaces and interesting spaces around Venice that welcome art exhibitions and open their doors to the public only for special events.
  • Note – The Biennale Season is a great opportunity to discover the interiors, courtyards and gardens of buildings normally closed to the public. Some of these events are officially associated with the Biennale as ‘collateral events’ and some are not!

What’s caught my eye so far – Giardini:

Romanian Pavilion (Giardini): A beautiful evocation of every day life, called ‘What work is’ by artist Șerban Savu, centred around the history and relationship of work and leisure. Curated by the artist Ciprian Mureșan. Carefully observed, modest and captivating. Below left – painting by Serban Savu. Below right – similar subject matter as a mosaic.

Photos – courtesy of Galeria Plan B, Berlin – artist: Serban Savu

Central Pavilion – Giardini: Paula Nicho an artist from Guatemala is exhibiting in the Central Pavilion at the Giardini. She has a delightful style – mixing the natural world with its spiritual counterpart. Mayan culture stretches from Mexico through to Guatemala along the Caribbean coastline and is famous for richly coloured textiles, shawls and embroidery. Nicho makes use of colour, form and depth in her paintings. She often includes a huipil – the traditional, hand-woven tunic in her canvases. Her work reminds me of the fabulous mural that Leonora Carrington created for The Anthropological Museum in Mexico City, back in the 1960s (see bottom of this article). Here’s a little taste of her work:

Photos courtesy of

Meandering over to the Arsenale – I just loved the ‘Mapping Journey Project’ see below – by French-Moroccan artist Bouchra Khalili. She has developed ‘The Mapping Journey Project‘ over several years, looking at migration routes from Africa, Middle East and Asia across the Mediterranean Basin. Huge screens hang from the ceiling in Arsenale. Khalili chatted to migrants in railway stations and public spaces, and asked them to draw on a map the route of their journeys. The maps help us to understand in a very visual way, the distances and obstacles that migrants endure and overcome to make their way north.

Migratory routes across the Mediterranean – Bouchra Khalili / Morocco – photo: Marco Zorzanello

Also in the Arsenale is a small exhibit with a focus on mosaics. This is sponsored by Tod’s the Italian shoemaker and features the work of Artefact Studio. Artefact is a husband and wife team based in Venice, they are both master mosaic-makers. A recent visit to their studio in Cannaregio offered me an insight into a world of dedication and craftsmanship. Both Alessandra and Romuald are graduates of the Scuola Mosaicisti di Friuli at Spilimbergo (just an hour’s drive from Venice). Photos below show their work at The Biennale where they created the sole of a Tods shoe in mosaic, and then also some recent photos of their ‘laboratorio’ in Cannaregio.

Photos courtesy of and

Out and about in Venice: first stop has got to be the Misericordia building in Cannaregio. This huge and impressive space is filled with a fantastical polyptych by Chinese artist Yu Hong. The sound track is Queen ‘Another one bites the dust’. Yu Hong’s art work is a multi-panelled polyptych, in the style of Tintoretto. Each panel features a different aspect of people’s lives. It’s bright and dynamic and also poignant, all at the same time.

Another One Bites the Dust, Venice Biennale 2024. © Yu Hong (China). Courtesy Lisson Gallery. Photo – George Darrel.

For the first time ever the Women’s Prison on Giudecca is ‘hosting’ an art installation by Claire Fontaine and others. I don’t know how I feel about this, actually yes I do know how I feel, I feel uneasy. I’m not sure this is appropriate or kind. Bizarrely it’s the ‘Holy See’ in other words The Vatican who are funding and hosting this exhibition. Venice’s Women’s Prison has about 60 inmates, they have a garden where they grow vegetables and salad plants and there are various opportunities for meaningful work, including a tailoring business that sells women’s clothes in Venice. However The Vatican, by its very nature is a male institution and for them to be deciding about an art installation within the women’s prison strikes me as strange and somewhat inappropriate. The event is called ‘Con i miei occhi’ literally ‘with my own eyes’…. and I will be going to take a look!

Entrance to Women’s Prison, Giudecca. Home to ‘Santa Sede’ art exhibition at The Biennale.

The 2024 Biennale is a huge event, with more than 300 artists contributing. So far I’ve only just touched on a couple of exhibits that intrigued me, there’ll be many more to come. My friend Shoghik has recently sent me photos of the Armenian Pavilion, housed in Magazzino del Sale near the Punta Dogana. I’ll be investigating that in the coming weeks.

Of course no art event or cultural exhibition would be truly artistic without a few disagreements. The mayor of Venice Luigi Brugnaro managed to really annoy Massimo Bartolini, one of the Italian artists contributing to the Italian Pavilion by announcing that he didn’t like his art installation, with its scaffolding pipes and strange circular pool full of water. The response to his comment was ‘I bet you’re the sort of person who would draw a moustache on the Mona Lisa’! Boys, boys, calm down, let’s all play nicely together – shall we?



  • Armenian Pavilion at Magazzino del Sale Nbr. 3 (Dorsoduro) – more coming soon.
  • La Biennale di Venezia –
  • Peggy Guggenheim Collection – must see! The Guggenheim, Venice
  • Grand Tourist – for all your high quality ‘tailor-made’ travel needs in Italy especially Venice.
  • National Museum of Anthropology (Museo Nacional de Antropologia) in Mexico City contains the world’s largest collection of ancient Mexican art and also has ethnographic exhibits about Mexico’s present-day indigenous groups. The museum has 23 permanent exhibit halls. Here’s the mural by Leonora Carrington, commissioned in the early 1960s – photo taken in Liverpool at The Tate, 2017.
  • Leonora Carrington is a personal favourite of mine: Leonora Carrington – Surrealist artist Venice’s Biennale of 2022 was inspired by Carrington. Cecilia Alemani was the curator.
Magical World of the Mayas – Leonora Carrington, 1964, commissioned by Anthropological Museum, Mexico City researched in Chiapas, Southern Mexico. photo:

23rd April, 2024

#biennale #venice #venezia