9 Satellite Shows to See in Venice
Visitors to the Venice Biennale will have their hands full with the Christine Macel-curated exhibition “Viva Arte Viva,” as well as the national pavilions, but should still carve out time to visit some of the satellite shows, collateral events, and installations the city has to offer. Here are some of our favorites on view this summer, from virtual-reality shock to Damien Hirst bombast.
Future Generation Art Prize exhibition at Palazzo Contarini Polignac
May 12–Aug. 13
Opening: May 11
African women artists Dineo Seshee Bopape (of South Africa) and Phoebe Boswell (of Kenya) landed the top honors for this year’s prize, given by the Victor Pinchuk Foundation. Their work is joined in this exhibition by that of the 19 other talents that appeared on the prize’s shortlist, including Martine Syms, Firelei Báez, and Njideka Akunyili Crosby.
Paul McCarthy and Christian Lemmerz Virtual Reality Commissions at Fondazione Giorgio Cini
Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore
May 12–Aug. 27
Opening: May 11, 6–8 p.m.
Anyone whose stomach was flipped by Jordan Wolfson’s Real Violence (2017) at the Whitney Biennial might want to steer clear of this show, which allows two bad-boy provocateurs—one American, one German—to expand their dark visions into the realm of virtual reality. (The projects were accomplished in collaboration with Khora Contemporary, a Copenhagen-based company helping contemporary artists branch out into VR technology.)
Christian Lemmerz, whose sculptural output celebrates an almost cartoonish level of gore and offensiveness, promises a visceral “close-up experience with a burning corpse of Jesus Christ, which ‘rains’ embers” (sure to be a crowd-pleaser among the Italian Catholic community). And Paul McCarthy, never known for a subtle touch, will doubtlessly revel in the chance to push some high-tech buttons.
“Intuition” at Palazzo Fortuny
San Marco 3780 May 13–Nov. 26
Opening: May 10–12, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
This sprawling, ambitious group show marks the venue’s sixth collaborative effort from Axel Vervoordt and Daniela Ferretti. Previous iterations explored broad and malleable themes, like the concept of proportion. The focus this time around, according to a gallery statement, is on “dreams, telepathy, paranormal fantasy, meditation, creative power, hypnosis, and inspiration” which the curators tease out through works by a fantastic cast of characters, from Hilma af Klint to Anish Kapoor and Marina Abramović.
“Philip Guston and the Poets” at Gallerie dell’Accademia di Venezia
May 10–Sep. 3
This cross-disciplinary survey of the late American’s work takes a novel approach, aligning 75 distinct paintings and drawings (made across a five-decade period) with poetic partners, from Wallace Stevens to T. S. Eliot. Go see how Guston’s groundbreaking vision was influenced by verse.
Chris Ofili at Victoria Miro
San Marco 1994
May 10–Jul. 1
Opening: May 9, 5:30–7:30 p.m.
Already a major force in London, Victoria Miro has expanded to Venice, and is debuting its new digs with a group of small mixed-media works on paper by the British-born Ofili. The watercolor, charcoal, and pastel series, “Poolside Magic,” spins a fantastical narrative of scenes of complicated luxury, in which a butler happily waits on a nude woman.
James Lee Byars, The Golden Tower
Campo San Vio
May 13–Nov. 26
The late Byars had an avowed affection for gold leaf, which he applied to a series of oversized sculptural orbs, discs, and cylinders throughout his career. When placed outdoors, they’re especially striking—as was the case when the artist’s “Golden Sphere” was made to float on the surface of a pool at the Tuileries Garden in Paris. At over 65 feet tall, Byars’s sky-piercing Golden Tower, conceived in the mid-’70s and first exhibited in 1990, promises to have an equally jarring impact on the Venetian landscape.
Damien Hirst at Punta della Dogana and Palazzo Grassi
Dorsoduro 2; Campo San Samuele 3231
Dates: Apr. 9–Dec. 3
The grown-up YBA has been given both of the Pinault Collection’s Venice venues for this sprawling show of sculpture that purports to have been salvaged from the ocean floor. Hirst, sparing no effort or expense, has cheekily mingled fact and fiction, and also snuck in some pop-culture cameos (try to spot Pharrell). “I have never seen a bigger show in my life,” claimed Guardian critic Laura Cumming. “It is by turns marvellous and beautiful, prodigious, comic and monstrous.”
Liang Yuanwei at Palazzo Pisani, Conservatorio di Musica Benedetto Marcello
San Marco 2810
May 12–Jun. 18
Opening: May 11, 6–8 p.m.
Shirin Neshat at Museo Correr
San Marco 52
May 13–Nov. 26
The heart of this presentation is the series “The Home of My Eyes,” which Iranian artist Neshat completed in 2015 as a commission for the Yarat Contemporary Art Space in Azerbaijan. Over two dozen photographic works capture a wide range of the country’s citizens, their portraits overlaid with text culled from interviews by the artist. Also on view is a 2016 video, Roja, which Charlotte Jansen, writing for Artsy, described as having “a hallucinatory atmosphere that’s easy to feel but hard to define; the physical and emotional landscapes are recognizable yet impossible to place.”