Changing times, interesting times. Artists address climate change at the Venice Biennale

Posted on Jul - 03 - 2019

Plastic in the oceans, melting ice caps, rising temperatures and the imminent extinction of biodiversity…this are interesting times indeed. It seems like we are living in uncertain moments, where the consequences of decades of misused resources and unchecked consumerism are ripping their effects. However, the message is out, and across the globe, the crowds made out of scientists, activists, politicians, and more recently young students and groups like Extinction Rebellion with Greta Thunberg as their global beacon, are manifesting their discontent towards society and demanding action. 


As artists better materialized their views and protests in their artworks, what better way of clamoring nonconformity than at the biggest art event in the world. This year's 58th International Art Exhibition at the Biennale di Venezia's title is May You Live in Interesting Times showcases artworks created to set a stage to reflect upon the precarious aspects of existence today and provide a guide to live and think in 'interesting times.'  Curator Ralph Rugoff has invited spectators to question our actuality and its meanings. It is appropriate that in the spirit of reflection, a recurring theme that flows through the event, referencing the Venice's unique structure, is the consequences of climate change. 


Lorenzo Quinn, "Building Bridges", 2019
Known for his 2017 hands at the Biennale, this year the Italian artist suggests that his work is about taking action and that these actions should be stronger than words, and accomplished together as a society while overcoming differences to achieve a solution that addresses the imminent threats to our planet. 

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courtesy: The Telegraph


 Tomás Saraceno, "On the Disappearance of Clouds", 2019 
In the Arsenal Gaggiandre, Argentinian artists Tomás Saraceno's installation "On the Disappearance of Clouds," made out of suspended carbon clouds, sways according to the winds and the tides around, materializing the presence of the unperceivable greenhouse gases that are prevalent in the environment. Nevertheless, the work suggests an ideal society, not dependent on fossil fuels and returning to how it once was. 

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courtesy: AP News


Hito Steyerl, "This is the Future" 2019

The German filmmaker and artist Hito Steyerl exhibited a combination of videos with raised walkways based on the ones that are used when Venice experiences high tides. Using her post-internet aesthetic Steyerl presented a digitalized garden of the future, where computerized voices narrated the characteristics of the plants additionally to providing us with oxygen. Nevertheless, the voice also warns, "Warning, it is very risky to enter the future," cautioning us of the dangerous future ahead. 

As many activists say, the first step to finding a solution is awareness and the infiltration of this message into society. An environmental revolution is coming, and events like the Venice Biennale and other exhibitions come to show that the artists are at the front lines of the changing times. 

By: Gabriela Martinez de la Hoz

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courtesy: Culture Whisperer

 

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