• Ideas
  • May 14, 2015

FIELD TRIP: Venice Biennale Part 2—National Pavilions

Where Okwui Enwezor’s central exhibition “All the World’s Futures” ends the national pavilions are left to pick up the curator’s mandate—to greater and lesser degrees of fealty and infused with numerous national agendas and anxieties of their own. The leafy Giardini is the traditional home of the national pavilions, but as real estate is limited, new spaces have been renovated in the Arsenale to bring more countries into the fold. Meanwhile, many nations make good use of spaces further afield, with artists exploring the rich histories of Venetian structures. 

Aside from a few acts of brazen profiteering, in the form of pay-to-play exhibitions (including pavilions for Kenya, Costa Rica, with suspicious-looking Chinese-Italian artist-heavy lists for San Marino and Syria), the national pavilions are, at times, a welcome change from Enwezor’s grim central exhibition, offering a wider range of practices and political views, as well as the chance to explore interesting spaces throughout the island city.