Venice Biennale Embraces Global South as Israel Delays Pavilion Opening

The 60th Venice Biennale embraces artists from the Global South, but the opening of the Israeli pavilion is delayed due to the Gaza conflict, highlighting ongoing geopolitical tensions in the art world.

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Muthana Al-Najjar
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Venice Biennale Embraces Global South as Israel Delays Pavilion Opening

Venice Biennale Embraces Global South as Israel Delays Pavilion Opening

The 60th Venice Biennale, one of the world's most prestigious art events, is underway with a significant shift towards embracing artists from the Global South. The central exhibition, curated by Adriano Pedrosa, showcases the largest representation of artists from Africa, Asia, and Latin America in the event's history.

However, the opening of the Israeli national pavilion has been delayed due to the ongoing conflict in Gaza. Artists refuse to open the Israel pavilion until a ceasefire is reached and hostages seized by Hamas are released. The decision was praised as courageous by Pedrosa.

The announcement came amid heightened security and protests calling for the exclusion of the Israeli pavilion. The curators cited solidarity with the families of hostages and the desire to avoid presenting a project about the vulnerability of life during a time of "unfathomed disregard for it."

Why this matters: The Venice Biennale's embrace of artists from the Global South represents a significant step towards greater inclusivity and diversity in the international art world. At the same time, the decision to delay the opening of the Israeli pavilion highlights the ongoing geopolitical tensions and humanitarian crises that continue to impact cultural events.

Meanwhile, the Biennale features several countries participating for the first time, including Benin, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Senegal, Timor-Leste, and Panama. The British pavilion, curated by artist John Akomfrah, represents Britain at the 60th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, presenting a multi-screen video work exploring themes of migration, colonialism, and the Windrush scandal.

The war in Gaza has caused widespread devastation, with over 33,700 Palestinian casualties according to local health officials and the United Nations warning of imminent famine in northern Gaza. The Biennale has a history of geopolitical tensions, with South Africa's participation discouraged and banned during apartheid, and Russian artists withdrawing in 2022 to protest the Kremlin's invasion of Ukraine.

Key Takeaways

  • 60th Venice Biennale embraces artists from Global South, largest representation.
  • Israel pavilion delayed due to Gaza conflict, artists refuse to open it.
  • Biennale features several countries participating for the first time.
  • British pavilion explores themes of migration, colonialism, and Windrush scandal.
  • Gaza war causes widespread devastation, Biennale has history of geopolitical tensions.