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'Foreigners Everywhere': Theme Of Venice Biennale 2024 Significant in Many Ways

“Foreigners Everywhere,” the powerfully evocative title of the 2024 Venice Art Biennale, carries dual meanings.

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The word “biennale” in India is now well associated with Kochi, which has been regularly hosting the Kochi-Muziris biennale since 2012. In December 2023, Delhi hosted its first major biennale, the India Art, Architecture, Design Biennale 2023 (IAADB 2023).

The 2023 Biennale, held in the evocative setting of the Red Fort, was meant to launch a wide-ranging conversation between artists, architects, designers, photographers, collectors, curators, art professionals, and gallery owners.

A theme for each day of the week was selected and completed by exhibitions designed in both physical and digital form by seven curators.

While Italy contributed to the IAADB 2023 with the active participation of Italian artists, in many ways it also set the stage for the participation of Indian artists in the Venice Biennale, arguably the most anticipated global art event.
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A Prestigious Cultural Institution

The Venice Biennale, the oldest in the world, has always been a point of reference as a dynamic and inclusive platform for the exchange of ideas and artistic expressions of artists from all over the world. For good reason too.

Its rich history since 1895 establishes it as a long-standing platform for artistic expression. It was founded in 1895 to mark the silver anniversary of the accession of King Umberto I of Italy.

National pavilions made their appearance in 1907, the first being in Belgium, giving rise to a sort of United Nations of art shows in purpose-built exhibition spaces. Cut to more than a century later, and the 2024 edition of the Biennale will host 83 national pavilions. 

The Biennale has been at the forefront of promoting new artistic visions with a unique multidisciplinary model. In 1932, it gave life to the Mostra d'Arte Cinematografica, the first film festival ever organised in the world,which together with music (1930), theatre (1934), architecture (1980), and dance (1999) make up the composite and peculiar cultural offering of the Biennale.

The Historical Archive of Contemporary Arts (ASAC) has made free access to every single biennale available. Its existence and its way of functioning is a democratic statement in providing full access to the archive.

The Venice Biennale has emerged as one of the most well-known and prestigious cultural institutions in the world.

The key to the success and longevity of the Venice Biennale is also that it is democratically resourced with no single source of state or private funding, thus liberating it from the potential control of any single entity.

This provides the curators with complete autonomy to allow for open and fertile exchanges of ideas and creativity across continents. 
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How Art Reflects Social & Environmental Issues

Additionally, the Biennale's international scope fosters cultural diversity and global dialogue among artists, curators, and viewers. The curated exhibitions showcase a wide range of artistic practices, pushing boundaries and reflecting the evolving nature of contemporary art.

Venice itself, with its unique atmosphere, provides a captivating backdrop that enhances the overall experience, making the Biennale a truly immersive and influential event in the art world.

In a world of uncertain scenarios, the Biennale reminds us of the importance of creating cultural bridges through a critical discourse on the current state of the art and on major social and environmental issues.

The Venice Biennale thus provides a unique chance for individual artists or artist collectives whose works would otherwise go unnoticed to be highlighted before a global audience.

The dramatic condition of artists who practice in war zones or heavily militarised areas of the world, the intense difficulties of those who experience the threat of violent censorship, and the lack of economic resources for those who come from the various parts of the global south do not become constraining factors for their art to triumph. 

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, addressing the IAADB 2023, emphasised that “Art, architecture, and culture have been sources of both diversity and unity for human civilization." He referred to the city of Delhi as a treasure trove of symbols that provide a glimpse of the rich architectural heritage of India, explaining the reason why the capital has been chosen.

The vision of One Earth, One Family, and One Future, as articulated by India, will be addressed by the Venice Biennale as well, yet from a different perspective.

'Foreigners Everywhere,' the powerfully evocative title of the 2024 Venice Art Biennale, carries dual meanings.

Adriano Pedrosa, the curator of the Biennale, contextualised the event in 'a world rife with multiple crises concerning the movement and existence of people across countries, nations, territories, and borders, which reflect the perils and pitfalls of language, translation, and ethnicity, expressing differences and disparities conditioned by identity, nationality, race, gender, sexuality, wealth, and freedom.'

The Venice Biennale this year will focus on artists who are themselves foreigners, immigrants, expatriates, diaspora, émigrés, and refugees, as well as those who are outsiders in other senses—queer indigenous, and folk/'outsider' artists, amongst others. A true platform for the artist and the audience to make what they can of the world in crisis.

(The authors are Vincenzo De Luca, Ambassador of Italy in India, and Andrea Anastasio, Director of the Italian Culture Centre in Delhi. This is an opinion article and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  India   Kochi   Italy 

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