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  • May 19, 2020

59th Venice Biennale Delayed to 2022

The 59th Venice Biennale, led by

Due to the onslaught of Covid-19 in Italy, with more than 220,000 confirmed cases and 32,000 deaths in the country at time of writing, the 59th Venice Biennale—originally slated to open in May 2021—has been pushed back to 2022. This change is to adjust for the delay of the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale, now launching in May 2021 instead of this year.

According to the Biennale's press release issued on May 18, the postponement is “an acknowledgment that it is impossible to move forward” due to “the persistence of a series of objective difficulties caused by the effects [of] the health emergency underway.” Biennale president Roberto Cicutto also stressed that the Biennale arrived at this inevitable decision bearing in mind “the investments made by the Participants,” as well as the logistic difficulties that “all countries, institutions, universities, [and] architectural studios have met together with the uncertainty of the shipments, personal travel restraints and Covid-19 protective measures that are being and were being adopted.” 

The 59th Venice Biennale is led by Cecilia Alemani, chief curator and director of New York’s High Line Art. Although the theme and title of the exhibition remain unspecified at this stage, Alemani expressed hope for the delayed event, which would open just before Italy's Liberation Day, to “mark a new celebration of togetherness,” as reported by Artnet News. Several countries have already announced their representative artists, including Füsun Onur, who explores conceptual art through poetry, for the Turkish Pavilion; indigenous artist Sakuliu Pavavaljung known for his socially engaged works, for Taiwan; multimedia collective Dumb Type which investigates the superficiality of consumerism, for Japan; interdisciplinary artist Yuki Kihara who explores postcolonialism and spirituality, for New Zealand; and sound and installation artist Marco Fusinato who incorporates music into visual art, for Australia

The 17th Venice Architecture Biennale, titled "How Will We Live Together?,” will run for a longer period from May 22 to November 21 in 2021, instead of the original schedule of August 29 to November 29, 2020. Curated by architect Hashim Sarkis, the aptly themed exhibition will unravel the structural problems underlying contemporary society. The Biennale will stage several events later this year in Venice, with details to come.

Following more than two months of lock-down, Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte has given museums in the country the green light to reopen gradually from May 18, aided by a national package of EUR 55 billion (USD 60 billion), as reported by The Art Newspaper. Most art fairs across the continent, however, are either cancelled or postponed, such as the 25th edition of Miart in Milan which has been pushed back from April to September, Art Basel in Basel which is delayed to September from June, and Art Cologne which has been rescheduled to November from April.

Charmaine Kong is an editorial intern of ArtAsiaPacific.

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