With the arts under attack from leaders worldwide, there’s never been a more crucial moment to celebrate the role they play in the evolution of our planet. By lifting our gaze away from the mundane, or by helping us take a closer look at parts of ourselves that remain hidden and otherwise go unquestioned, art has the power to challenge the status quo and elevate our collective consciousness. When witnessed with awareness and respect, it can even serve as a mindfulness practice.
Historically, from Babylon to modern day western civilization, the devaluation of art in a society marks its imminent decline and eventual collapse. The opposite is also true. For centuries, one city that’s played its part to elevate the role of art in society is Venice, Italy. Built on over 100 small islands in a lagoon in the Adriatic Sea, this zero-car city has no roads, just canals – the largest of which is the Grand Canal – lined with beautiful palaces and the historic Piazza San Marco, built in the early 16th century.
Every two years, this beacon of art and architecture hosts the prestigious Venice Biennale. Since 1895, artists and art lovers from around the world have come to share their best work and witness present-day culture in all its glory. With over 80 official national participants showing in country pavilions in the Giardini, at a former shipyard called the Arsenale, and in off-site locations throughout Venice, for over 120 years the Venice Biennale has been one of the most acclaimed cultural institutions in the world, and the foremost contemporary art exhibition. Often considered the Olympics of the art world, today, it boasts over a half-million visitors. From architecture, music and theater to works of political import abstract exhibitions, and even performance art, the Venice Biennale continues to serve as a beacon of light for the vital role art plays in modern times.
In the words of this year’s Venice Biennale creative director Christine Macel, “Today, in a world full of conflicts and shocks, art bears witness to the most precious part of what makes us human.”
Watch this episode for a look inside this much-anticipated event – designed with artists, by artists and for artists.