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60th Venice Art Biennale Pre-Opening & Highlights

This week we were invited by the Türkiye Pavilion for the pre-opening of the 60th Venice Art Biennale. This year's international art exhibition is curated by Adriano Pedrosa, with the title 'Foreigners Everywhere - Stranieri Ovunque.' The selection of artists and artworks mostly focus on issues with racism, discrimination, immigration, indigenous and folk art, queer identity.

«The expression Stranieri Ovunque - explains Adriano Pedrosa - has several meanings. First of all, that wherever you go and wherever you are you will always encounter foreigners— they/we are everywhere. Secondly, that no matter where you find yourself, you are always truly, and deep down inside, a foreigner.»

As the events are distributed through national pavilions in Giardini and Arsenale along with curated gallery spaces and off-site international venues and collateral events, we tried to visit as many exhibitions as our feet can carry us in three days. Our article will include an overview of the main Biennale venues and Julie Mehretu Ensemble exhibition at Pinault Collection in Palazzo Grassi.

'Stranieri Ovunque - Foreigners Everywhere' artwork by Claire Fontaine collective which gave the theme of this year's 60th Art Biennial title at the Arsenale in Venice, Italy.


Rezzan Hasoglu and Ingimar Einarsson in front of the main hall of Giardini

At the main gallery of the Giardini, Nil Yalter's Topak Ev (Nomad's Tent) is situated by the entrance as a depiction of being an immigrant and literally translates as 'Living in a different country is hard job'. Yalter who lived and worked in different countries depicts the challenges of living as a nomad in this artwork. She was awarded the Golden Lion for lifetime achievement by the Venice Biennale.

Nil Yalter, Topak Ev installation in Giardini

Most of the artworks in national pavilions such as France and Sweden were large installation pieces where visitors and walk through / around. Fahrelnissa Zeid's artwork in the main venue was a proud encounter to see a Turkish woman artist among international artworks.

Opening of the UK Pavilion

As we were getting ready to queue for the UK Pavilion, the opening event was taking place. We had a chance to see the artist and the whole team. Unfortunately, we did not get a chance to see the artworks as it was closed for press reviews.

Ersan Mondtag,Monument eines unbekannten Menschen (Monument to an unknown person), 2024.

After waiting in the queue about two hours for the German Pavilion, we managed to experience the performance artwork by Ersan Mondtag.

The three storey walk-in structure branded with Eternit inside the pavilion contains 5 performers in different rooms covered in dirt and dust with a heavy industrial smell to depict the story of Mondtag's father Hasan Aygun. Aygun who was a Turkish immigrant to Germany died in from asbestos poisoning when he was a worker in a factory. The performance was showing the hardship he endured.

When we walked in, we did not notice first the performers. There is an eerie and somehow alienating tension as we stood and watched their movements.

The other memorable exhibitions were Jeffrey Gibson's artworks in the US Pavilion and Poland supporting Ukraine in their pavilion with a video installation.


Our main plan was to attend to the opening of the Türkiye Pavilion. Gulsun Karamustafa, a significant Turkish contemporary artist who has been focusing on social and political issues created a site specific installation Hollow and Broken. The artwork consists of multiple plastic columns which are hollow, barbed wired Murano chandeliers and video piece with excerpts from news clips about wars, immigration and natural disasters. We were honoured to meet the artist and listen her presentation about the artwork.

Hollow and Broken, installation by Gülsün Karamustafa

Other significant artworks at the Arsenale were the Yinka Shonibare sculpture by the entrance, sound and installation at the Italian Pavilion and the ‘Electric Dress’ by Puppies Puppies.


One of the most recommended exhibitions was the retrospective of RISD alumni Julie Mehretu. Her process of painting on layers with silicone, mark making and creating architectural traces were incredible. This is largest exhibition of the artist in Europe including artworks from other artists which compliments to the theme.

This is one the most visit worthy exhibitions in Venice.

More info:

As for the opening parties, our favourite was the Icelandic party with Björk playing a DJ set. We have one blurry photo as we focused more to enjoy the dance floor.

Opening party with Iceland Pavilion

If you would like to visit the Biennale, the exhibitions will be open from April 20th until November 24th, 2024. You can find out more about the program and venues on the Biennale main website.

All images by Rezzan Hasoglu.


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