May You Live In Interesting Times. 58th Biennale di Venezia

May 11 - November 24, 2019

Giardini and Arsenale, Venice


The 58th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, titled May You Live In Interesting Times, will open to the public from Saturday May 11 to Sunday November 24, 2019, at the Giardini and the Arsenale; it will be curated by Ralph Rugoff and organised by La Biennale di Venezia chaired by Paolo Baratta.  

The Exhibition will include 90 National Participations in the historic Pavilions at the Giardini, at the Arsenale and in the city centre of Venice. Four countries will be participating for the first time at the Biennale Arte: Ghana, Madagascar, Malaysia and Pakistan. The Dominican Republic participates for the first time in Biennale Arte with its own national pavilion. 

The Italian Pavilion at the Tese delle Vergini in the Arsenale, sponsored and promoted by the Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali, Direzione Generale Arte e Architettura Contemporanee e Periferie Urbane, is titled Neither Nor: The challenge to the Labyrinth and curated by Milovan Farronato. 

21 Collateral Events, which are admitted by the Curator and promoted by non–profit national and international bodies and institutions, take place in several locations around the city of Venice. They offer a wide range of contributions and participations that enrich the diversity of voices that characterises the Exhibition. 


SPECIAL PROJECTS realised by La Biennale di Venezia 


Forte Marghera Special Project, Mestre 

Ludovica Carbotta, one of the artists taking part in the International Exhibition, has been invited by Ralph Rugoff to expressly make a work in Forte Marghera. Carbotta presents a new sculptural installation, Monowe (The Powder Room, 2019), which explores the ways in which human imagination can trigger powerful emotions even without a real imminent danger. 

”We renew our presence in Forte Marghera this year”, President Paolo Baratta commented “with an exhibition inside the Austrian Polveriera. Rugoff has given artists the opportunity to each show two different artworks that reflect diverging aspects of their practice, thus creating a dialogue across the Arsenale and the Giardini. In the case of Ludovica Carbotta, the artist’s display in Forte Marghera makes reference to her other work shown at the Arsenale. This approach reinforces the full integration of the International Exhibition with what is exhibited in this place.” 


Applied Arts Pavilion Special Project, Arsenale, Sale d’Armi 

For the fourth consecutive year, the collaboration between La Biennale di Venezia and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London has made possible the Applied Arts Pavilion Special Project located in the Arsenale Sale d’Armi, jointly organised by the two institutions. It’s About Time is the title of the exhibition by Marysia Lewandowska, the artist selected by Curator of Biennale Arte 2019 Ralph Rugoff.  

“This year’s exhibition project finds inspiration from the visit to La Biennale’s Historical Archives and V&A’s collections”, Presidente Baratta explains. “Marysia Lewandowska turned her attention to the history of La Biennale and specifically to its origins. She was struck by the clear dominance of ‘men’ among the people mentioned in its official history since its foundation.” 



Meetings on Art is the programme of conversations, performances, and talks that will run throughout the opening period of the Exhibition to allow visitors to learn more about May You Live In Interesting Times from the voice of its participating artists. Lara Favaretto will engage in conversation with the art historian and curator Angela Vettese (June 14); Dominique Gonzales-Foerster, Tomàs Saraceno, Margaret Wertheim and Anicka Yi will meet Ralph Rugoff for a conference addressing art’s relationship with technological, social and environmental issues (September 14 - 15). As part of the Pavilion of Applied Arts Special Project, a symposium on Felicita Bevilacqua La Masa will be held on October 22. Lastly, Paolo Baratta and Ralph Rugoff will meet the public on Sunday, November 24 at the Teatro alle Tese Arsenale to discuss the legacy of Biennale Arte 2019. 

A variegated programme of performances during the opening weekend and the closing days of the Exhibition will activate the ‘in-between’ spaces of the Biennale’s Giardini areas, outdoor walkways, and interior spaces in short and durational episodes. In addition, the Teatro alle Tese and the Teatro Piccolo Arsenale will host an array of performances, scheduled daily, and create a focused space for the unfolding of more concentrated narratives (artistic organiser Aaron Cezar; with the additional support of Arts Council England and Delfina Foundation). 

In relation to the Thinking Head installation by Lara Favaretto in Giardini’s Central Pavilion and for the duration of the steam clouds rising from its façade, there will be a series of “clandestine talks”, closed-door roundtable discussions, hosted in a bunker-like performance space in the Arsenale. There will be no audience, though the talks will be recorded and audible online in La Biennale’s official website. (For further information and a detailed programme of the Meetings on Art, visit

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