• Ideas
  • May 28, 2019

58th Venice Biennale, Part 5: National Pavilions and Collateral Exhibitions Beyond the Arsenale and Giardini

Exterior view of the Pakistan Pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale, 2019. Courtesy La Biennale di Venezia.

Outside the walled compound of Venice’s Arsenale shipyard and the leafy expanses of the Giardini are dozens of national pavilions and collateral exhibitions, spanning the island or located on nearby islets. These peripheral exhibitions, reflecting geopolitical hierarchies through the Venice Biennale’s system of pavilion assignments, are where the huge diversity and extent of global art production becomes most evident, with exhibitions by countries from South and Latin America, Africa, smaller nations of Europe, and the Asia-Pacific. One such geopolitical reality is that because of the People’s Republic of China’s involvement with the Biennale, the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau are not permitted to call their respective presentations at Venice “national pavilions.” Similarly, the Venice Biennale bars Taiwan’s participation as a “national pavilion,” relegating it, like Hong Kong and Macau, to the status of a “collateral exhibition.” Here’s a look at seven notable national pavilions and collateral exhibitions from across Asia.