I missed the opening week – actually, I’ve never been – and have instead come with the RA Patrons.
What follows are random observations.
The first pavilion which really caught my attention in the Arsenale was the Italian one, consisting of three artists – Giorgio Andreotta Càlo, Roberto Cuoghi and Adelita Husni- Bey exploring the world of Ernestode Martino’s Il mondo magico, partly because there’s a sense of history, as well as installation:-
I liked the Welsh pavilion by James Richards, partly because it is separate from everything else and I found it by accident exploring the back streets of Castello:-
I expected to like Phyllida Barlow’s installation in the British pavilion, and did: grand, large-scale, confident, arbitrary, celebratory mess:-
I thought the American work by Mark Bradford was strong. Maybe it’s because I’m more attuned to the aesthetic. And the spaces are coherent:-
Overall, there is a strange ambiguity between the idea of national pavilions, constructed with a pre-second world war idea of separate national identities, competing in an art olympics, and, on the other hand, the global themes of film, dystopia, music and migration which are mostly on display.