Chris Ofili’s installation in All The World’s Futures at the 56th Venice Biennale

The Venice Biennale is so jam-packed with momentous art that even the most seasoned art heads may struggle to draw out themes. For Bottletop, however, the task was a little easier this year, as among the inspirational artists we’ve collaborated with over the years, the keynotes of sustainability and global community were stronger than ever at this year’s exhibitions.


Okwui Enwezor, curator of the 56th Venice Biennale

Having been appointed in 2013, the Nigerian-born director of Munich’s Haus der Kunst Okwui Enwezor is this year’s biennale curator, marking the first time the festival has had an African director. His chosen theme and central exhibition, All The World’s Futures, lends itself to the issues that concern Bottletop, and to shining the spotlight on those artists from around the world who choose to use their creativity to stimulate social and environmental change.

Blue Eyes by Wangechi Mutu at the 56th Venice Biennale

Highly acclaimed Wangechi Mutu is among the 21 African artists whose work is being exhibited, showing some of her colourful works on paper. The Nairobi-born, Brooklyn-based Wangechi is known for her illustrative collages and her short film The End of Eating Everything featuring musician Santigold. Wangechi has partnered with Bottletop on our Full Circle exhibitions and her images consider themes including feminism, ecology and multiculturalism – three things close to our hearts. Watch this space for news about our upcoming design collaboration with the artist in support of her inspiring initiative “Africa’s Out!”.

Stones Against Diamonds by Isaac Julien at the 56th Venice Biennale

Isaac Julien (who co-curated our last Full Circle exhibition, Cinematic Visions with James Franco and Glenn Scott Wright) is also showing in Venice, at new space the Arena, designed by British architect David Adjaye. His work is a radical live piece in which a team of performers read Das Kapital every day for the next six months. Enwezor’s exhibition is pegged to Marx’s text, and Isaac’s readers pose a direct challenge to the values of hyper-capitalism that have seeped across the art world. We assume that the irony of having such an exhibit as a Rolls Royce sponsored installation was not lost on curator or artist.

Chris Ofili’s installation in All The World’s Futures at the 56th Venice Biennale

Three other Bottletop favourites Chris Ofili, Sarah Sze and Theaster Gates are also exhibiting. The incredibly beautiful installation from YBA Turner-Prizewinner Chris at the Arsenale is a showstopper as his richly coloured paintings offset against a greyscale background. Sarah created an equally heart-stopping effect with her magical installation of yarns, rocks and other miscellania hidden in a secret garden. Theaster’s installation called Martyr Construction, at the city’s Corderie building, compiles repurposed fragments from inner-city churches across America to look at how objects and re-used materials retain their history and spiritual power.

Landscape for an Event Suspended Indefinitely

by Sarah Sze at the 56th Venice Biennale

Reading Okwui Enwezor’s curatorial statement in more detail, we were excited that his focus reached across different media to all the creative fields. He writes: “The principal question the exhibition will pose is this: How can artists, thinkers, writers, composers, choreographers, singers, and musicians, through images, objects, words, movement, actions, lyrics, sound bring together publics in acts of looking, listening, responding, engaging, speaking in order to make sense of the current upheaval?” At Bottletop we applaud his leadership in encouraging the Venice Biennale – the most important event on the global contemporary art calendar – to expand to represent the change-making creative community in which we truly believe.

 Read more about Bottletop’s Full Circle contemporary art programme here.

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