Venice through the Eyes of an Artist, a Collector, and a Curator

Artsy Editorial
May 13, 2019 5:24PM

It’s hard to fathom what it’s like to visit the Venice Biennale until you experience it firsthand. Art is ubiquitous, from the two main venues—the Giardini and the Arsenale—to ornate palazzos and churches across the city. And particularly during the opening week, the art-world crowd is ubiquitous, too.

For artists, art professionals, and collectors, the Venice Biennale is an opportunity to scope out the current state of contemporary art on a global scale, to catch up with peers and colleagues, and to celebrate the exhibiting artists.

As the 58th Venice Biennale opened its doors last week, we asked attendees to capture the sprawling, international event through their own perspectives. We gave Polaroid cameras to an artist, a curator, and a collector—Chloe Wise, Larry Ossei-Mensah, and Tiffany Zabludowicz—and asked them to share a day at the Biennale through a series of snapshots.

Chloe Wise

New York–based artist

During her first visit to the Biennale, Chloe Wise made the rounds at the Giardini and the Arsenale. Some of her favorite pieces in the central exhibition were by Korakrit Arunanandchai, Nabuqi, and Henry Taylor. And at the Giardini, she took snaps at the Nordic pavilion, the Serbian pavilion, and the American pavilion. She also caught up with friends and peers, like fellow artists Ed Fornieles and Alex Da Corte, as well as art advisor Dan Oglander and curator Michael Bank Christoffersen.


Oh, that’s me (yes, my aura is sepia) proudly serving up lunch and looks. Here we have a buffalo mozzarella, cherry tomato, puntarelle, and micro spinach salad with the cutest snap peas and a lemon vinaigrette. I know what you’re thinking: “Chloe, you literally haven’t had time to respond to one email, or shower really, and there’s a bajillion pavilions, how did you have time to find a farmer’s market in Venice and make such a beautiful lunch for your loved ones?” Well, I just did. Get over it.

Oh, that’s nice.


Korakrit’s multimedia installation work is always outstanding and stresses me out in a good way. Do you guys think we should briefly date by the way? I think it would be a look. Maybe a Swiss moment for Art Basel. Let’s workshop this.

Alex Da Corte (whose video was my absolute favorite thing I saw in Venice), crouching Thor Shannon, and hidden Sarah Hantman.

A scenic moment to consider.

Henry Taylor’s vibrant hues and painterly textures are by no means aptly represented in this photo, but that’s not my fault. It really isn’t. And even if it was, can we just focus on what a beautiful painting this is?

Ed Fornieles hijacking my camera and blessing us with his cheekbones in a rare non-toxic masculine selfie moment.

A sculptural installation featuring natural elements with industrial materials in the Nordic pavilion.

Holy cow! ;-) Nabuqi’s installation really moo-ved me :-)

“Venetian Vere” or “the Verechant of Venice.” Note: Not only will I take credit for art direction and photography of this beautiful and possibly iconic image, I also will assert, humbly, that I did Vere’s eyebrows on this day.

Me and Michael Bank Christoffersen! Get ready for us! Coming to a Danish contemporary art museum near you! (Well, probably not that near to you, unless you live in the Danish countryside, but in any case, here we are.)

Dan Oglander’s new Raya profile photo. Don’t worry, I invoiced him for it.

Larry Ossei-Mensah

Susanne Feld Hilberry Senior Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit; co-founder of ARTNOIR

Larry Ossei-Mensah took us into a day of seeing art, peers, and artists at the Arsenale and Giardini. In the morning, he attended the inauguration of Ghana’s first-ever national pavilion. There, he caught up with artists including Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, John Akomfrah, Ibrahim Mahama, and Arthur Jafa. After, he ventured through the two venues of curator Ralph Rugoff’s “May You Live in Interesting Times.” He was drawn to works by Kahlil Joseph, Michael Armitage, Henry Taylor, Martine Gutierrez, and Soham Gupta. The day wound down at the American pavilion, with the sculptures of Martin Puryear.

A view from walking to the Arsenale in the morning.

Jon Gray and Chef Pierre Serrao of culinary collective Ghetto Gastro Bx Flexin’ in front of El Anatsui’s masterful installation at the Ghana pavilion. The exhibition, “Ghana Freedom,” was curated by Nana Oforiatta Ayim and designed by David Adjaye.

Longtime friends, artists John Akomfrah and Arthur Jafa (who won the Golden Lion for best artist in the central exhibition), at the Ghana pavilion.

Artist Ibrahim Mahama in front of his incredible installation at the Ghana pavilion.

Photographs by Felicia Abban, whose career spans almost 50 years and who is considered Ghana’s first female professional photographer.

Curator Hans Ulrich Obrist in front of Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s work at the Ghana pavilion.

Jon Gray of Ghetto Gastro and artist Lynette Yiadom-Boakye celebrating and catching up.

Detail of a painting by Michael Armitage in “May You Live in Interesting Times.” Michael’s presentation was one of my favorites. I can’t wait for his “Studio Museum at MoMA” exhibition this fall, curated by Thelma Golden.

A mesmerized crowd gathered around Kahlil Joseph’s BLKNWS (2018–present) in “May You Live in Interesting Times” at the Giardini.

Photographs by Martine Gutierrez in “May You Live in Interesting Times” at the Giardini.

A photograph by Soham Gupta in “May You Live in Interesting Times” at the Giardini. Soham’s work was one of my favorite discoveries during the Biennale. I was captivated by Soham’s visually arresting images.

Henry Taylor’s painting of David Hammons in “May You Live in Interesting Times” at the Giardini.

Martin Puryear’s Big Phrygian (2010–14) at the American pavilion in the Giardini.

Tiffany Zabludowicz

Collector and founder of Times Square Space

In addition to attending celebrations of artists showing in the Biennale, Tiffany Zabludowicz takes us through the main exhibition venues and beyond. In the central exhibition, her highlights included Alex Da Corte’s video Rubber Pencil Devil (2018) and installations by Liu Wei and Korakrit Arunanondchai. She also loved Naiza Khan’s Pakistani pavilion, Anna K.E.’s Georgian pavilion, and the Golden Lion–winning Lithuanian pavilion, featuring an indoor beach opera.

Good morning, Venice! A dreamy view to wake up to.

Jon Rafman and friends at a lunch held by Barbara Gladstone, Monika Sprüth, and Philomene Magers in honor of artists Ian Cheng, George Condo, Cyprien Gaillard, Cameron Jamie, Jon Rafman, Rosemarie Trockel, Kaari Upson, and Anicka Yi.

The view from lunch!

First, the Arsenale! So many friends with incredible installations at the exhibition! Mind blown by Korakrit Arunanondchai’s installation, a world of stories and spirits.

Alex Da Corte’s video is an epic compilation of 57 short videos, each one wittier and more wonderful than the last! And this one had the Statue of Liberty peeping through the window of our house made by Richard Woods in Finland!

Liu Wei’s elegant, giant Microworld (2018).

On to the best pavilion! Lina Lapelytė won a Golden Lion for the Lithuanian pavilion and I couldn’t be happier! So deserved! Epic singers on a Venice beach.

The first-ever Pakistani pavilion was so intricate! Artist of the pavilion, Naiza Khan, with Haroon Mirza and curator Zahra Khan. Loved this ambitious installation so much!

So proud of Anna K.E. and New Museum curator Margot Norton for the Georgian pavilion! Taps into the shapes of a hidden and forgotten Georgian language, dotted with videos of performances.

An exhibition of works by Kate Groobey at Ikon Gallery! Me being silly with her mannequin.

Then dinner for Darren Bader! Heading over with my art bestie Michael Xufu Huang! #tifxufuontour.

We sat with artist Hannah Perry, with ASAI.

Lovely Zabludowicz Collection Invites artist, Jake Elwes!

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Jenna Gribbon, Luncheon on the grass, a recurring dream, 2020. Jenna Gribbon, April studio, parting glance, 2021. Jenna Gribbon, Silver Tongue, 2019