The President of La Biennale di Venezia, Paolo Baratta, and the curator of the 58th International Art Exhibition, Ralph Rugoff announced the title of next Venice Art Biennale 2019: May You Live in Interesting Times. Venice Art Biennale which will take place from May 11th to November 24th 2019 (Preview May 8th, 9th and 10th) at the Giardini and the Arsenale, as well as around other venues in Venice.
As the curator said: “May You Live in Interesting Times will aim to welcome its public to an expansive experience of the deep involvement, absorption and creative learning that art makes possible. This will entail engaging visitors in a series of encounters that are essentially playful, taking into account that it is when we play that we are most fully ‘human.’ This will mean tweaking aspects of the Exhibition format where possible to make sure they are sympathetically aligned with the character of the art being presented.”
May You Live in Interesting Times is a phrase of English invention that has long been mistakenly cited as an ancient Chinese curse that invokes periods of uncertainty, crisis and turmoil; “interesting times”, exactly as the ones we live in today.
This summary sounds uncannily familiar today as the news cycle spins from crisis to crisis. Yet at a moment when the digital dissemination of fake news and “alternative facts” is corroding political discourse and the trust on which it depends, it is worth pausing whenever possible to reassess our terms of reference. In this case it turns out that there never was any such “ancient Chinese curse,” despite the fact that Western politicians have made reference to it in speeches for over a hundred years. It is an ersatz cultural relic, and yet for all its fictional status it has had real rhetorical effects in significant public exchanges. At once suspect and rich in meaning, this kind of uncertain artefact suggests potential lines of exploration that are worth pursuing at present, especially when the “interesting times” it evokes seem to be with us once again. Hence the 58th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia will be titled after a counterfeit curse.
May You Live in Interesting Times will no doubt include artworks that reflect upon precarious aspects of existence today, including different threats to key traditions, institutions and relationships of the “post-war order.” But let us acknowledge at the outset that art does not exercise its forces in the domain of politics. Art cannot stem the rise of nationalist movements and authoritarian governments in different parts of the world, for instance, nor can it alleviate the tragic fate of displaced peoples across the globe (whose numbers now represent almost one percent of the world’s entire population).
The curator of the Venice Art Biennale 2019, Ralph Rugoff, has been the Director of the Hayward Gallery of London since 2006. Opened in 1968, the Hayward Gallery is considered one of the most leading public art galleries in the United Kingdom. He also wrote art and cultural criticism for numerous periodicals, publishing widely in art magazines as well as newspapers, including Artforum, Artpresse, FlashArt, Frieze, Parkett, Grand Street, The Financial Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Los Angeles WeeklyAfter the nominee he has declared “I am absolutely thrilled with this appointment. The Venice Art Biennale is the oldest and most prestigious exhibition of its kind internationally and I am really looking forward to taking on this new challenge.”
More info about the Venice Art Biennale 2019 here