The interconnectivity of seemingly disconnected situations and stories throughout the 56th International Art Exhibition All the World’s Futures (2015), curated by Okwui Enwezor and organized by La Biennale di Venezia, contributes to an exhibition that is simultaneously fragmented, overlapped, and intertwined. The result is a complex structure of stories that exists between past and present, combines shared histories with personal stories, and ranges from the highly visual to the completely invisible. Throughout the exhibition past and present are in constant ebb and flow, as contemporaneity is influenced by history, memory, loss, absence, and displacement. The stories throughout relate to distinctions of power and class hierarchy, social injustice, mass migration, absence, and loss. In the spirit of Edward Said, topics of displacement and exile abound in works that are woven together from the ragged, yet beautiful, threads of daily life as influenced by the long-term effect of history and its implications on what plays out in the present. These narratives are punctuated by an abundance of words, text, and literary references that are written, spoken, sung, recited, projected, sculpted, drawn, whispered, murmured, or simply inferred. Stories conveyed through the universal language of music also resonate throughout All the World’s Futures, while the potential of art to change lives and the implementation of art as a tool for social activism provide a beautiful subtext for the entire exhibition. The relationship between history and contemporaneity creates a fascinating subtext that links past, present, and future throughout the exhibition. Ultimately, the stories, poems, narratives, sound, music, and images come together to convey a real sense of all the world’s futures.
Research Article|June 01 2017
Selene Wendt; The Stories That Need to Be Told: 56th Venice Biennale. Nka 1 June 2017; 2017 (40): 68–81. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10757163-3885940
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