May you live in interesting times – keys


Gallergry provides a guided reflection. 
Follow the blog or the art reflection workshop ‘May you reflect on interesting times’ available upon request.

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Some keys to help understand the 58th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia ‘May you live in interesting times’, curated by Ralph Rugoff.

The doors are still closed.
On the 8th of May GALLERGRY will access the 60.000 m2 of Giardini for the first time this year and the 9th of May the roughly counted 24.500 m2 of indoor exhibition space in the Arsenale (and that’s just indoors!). Now that’s a lot of m2 of art waiting on the other side.

Before unlocking any kind of door, it’s nice to know if you need keys, what they look like, where to find them and how to use them.
In this article you’ll find a whole bunch of keys I stumbled upon that will help in unlocking the 58th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia.

Ralph Rugoff (curator of the 58th International Art Exhibition) and Paolo Baratta (president of the Biennale di Venezia) gave an introduction and a press conference.

In this second article about ‘May you live in interesting times’ I will give an introduction to the exhibition in my own words. (First article: La Biennale di Venezia – the basics)

MP Sir Austen Chamberlain used the ancient Chinese curse ‘May you live in interesting times’ in a speech. He had learned this curse from a British diplomat that had served in Asia and according to him it was accurately describing the situation of the world at that time.
Looking at our time we could say the same thing. Not only the news, but also fake news and alternative facts contribute to this.
But you know what? Turns out the ancient Chinese curse never existed. A fake curse. But as this fake curse had real impact, so has fake news.

We can interpret the title of the exhibition as a curse. On the other hand, we can interpret it as an invitation to perceive our times and to do so in all its complexity.

This Biennale will be a Biennale of living artists.
There will be 79 artists presenting two diverse works in this exhibition. One work in Arsenale (Proposition A) and one work in the Central Pavilion of Giardini (Proposition B). Without having any background knowledge or having read any text, the viewer might not even expect that they were made by the same artist. This is done to give more space to each individual artist and also to emphasize the diversity of an artists practice.

Even though there is no ‘big’ theme, it will be open and about conversation.
There are some patterns popping up, like walls, boundaries, borders, split identities, alternative identities, denial of reality and parallel reality. But the main thing that attaches everything to each other, is the idea that everything is related to everything else. It will be about the making of art and it will give views of its social functions, pleasure and critical thinking. The artists in this exhibition share their research to challenge what we think we know and to reflect.

Art is about questioning and about finding ways to deal with paradoxes and contradictions. It can provide a complex view of complexity to better understand how complex we actually are as humans, how complex the world is that we live in and how complex our times are.

Art is a conversation. It starts with a conversation between the work and the artist, becomes a conversation between the work and the viewer and ultimately a conversation between the public. The exhibition strives to let the public have conversations with each other and have them bring home new views and perspectives to the daily lives of our times.

This is in symbioses with what the Biennale tries to achieve. It has as its mission to offer artists the opportunity to dialogue as free as possible and for visitors to encounter art intensely.

If you’d like to reflect with GALLERGRY, you can request participation to the workshop ‘May you reflect on interesting times’. For more information, please write

Additional info on the 58th International Art Exhibition:
90 National Participations. (29 in Giardini, 23 in Arsenale)
4 new participating countries (Ghana, Madagascar, Malaysia, Pakistan).
1 country with own pavilion for the first time (Dominican Republic)
21 official collateral events.
2 special projects (1 Forte Marghera – solo Ludovica Carbotta. 2 Victoria and Albert Museum collaboration – Applied Arts Pavilion – Marysia Lewandowska)

More articles on this topic will follow, follow us.

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