The 2024 Venice Biennale, titled “Stranieri Ovunque” (“Foreigners Everywhere”), features the most expansive and inclusive roster of artists yet, including a wide variety of contemporary artists at different stages of their careers with an emphasis on marginalized voices, as well as honoring the work of late artists such as Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. The 60th edition of the esteemed international art exhibition is curated by Adriano Pedrosa, artistic director of Museu de Arte de São Paulo and the Biennale’s first Latin-America-based curator, and will run from April 20 to November 24, 2024.
The exhibition grapples with themes of language, identity, nationality, and movement. Featuring 331 artists and collectives, it will be divided into two parts, “Nucleo Contemporaneo” (“Contemporary Nuclei”) and “Nucleo Storico” (“Historical Nuclei”). The latter is set to investigate an expansive definition of “foreigner” and will feature the Disobedience Archive, a video archive analyzing relationships between artistic practices and activism by Marco Scotini, who has been accumulating footage since 2005. This is especially relevant this year, during which 64 countries and the European Union, representing a combined 49 percent of the world’s population, will hold national elections. The results will prove consequential for years to come. Immigration to Europe is likely to rise significantly this year with people trying to reach the continent before new laws aiming at cutting the number of arrivals are likely to be introduced.
Featuring works from 20th-century Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, “Nucleo Storico” tackles the semantics of global modernism. The Biennale will give voice to underrepresented histories of the African diaspora, women, and queer people, among others. Speaking at a press conference on January 31, Pedrosa identified the many meanings behind the title of this year’s exhibition, “First of all, wherever you go, and wherever you are, you will always encounter foreigners. They—we—are everywhere,” he emphasized. “Secondly, no matter where you find yourself, you are always truly and deep down inside a foreigner… Yet, one may also think of the expression as a motto, a slogan, a call to action, a cry of excitement, joy, or fear.”
The robust selection of artists and collectives consists of emerging, mid-career, and established artists, with a great many of them from the Global South and of Indigenous descent, including the Brazilian collective MAHKU, Native American landscape artist Kay WalkingStick, and the Māori quartet Mata Aho Collective. The diverse lineup includes American artist Lauren Halsey, Moroccan visual artist Bouchra Khalili, conceptual artist and photographer Teresa Margolles, and Egyptian artist Ahmed Morsi. Erica Rutherford, Isaac Chong Wai, Elyla, Violeta Quispe, and Louis Fratino are some of the first-time Biennale participants this year. Multidisciplinary artists such as American artist Jade Guanaro Kuriki (Puppies Puppies) and New-York-based artist WangShui capture what Pedrosa outlines as “the perils and pitfalls of language, translation, nationality, expressing differences and disparities conditioned by race, identity, nationality, gender, sexuality, freedom, and wealth.”
Turkish video artist Nil Yalter and Brazilian multimedia artist Anna Maria Maiolino will receive the 2024 Biennale’s Golden Lion Award for Lifetime Achievement. A pioneer in the French feminist art movement of the 1970s, Yalter will make her Biennale debut with Topak Ev, 1973, an installation that recalls a traditional Turkish nomadic tent and a new version of “Exile is a Hard Job,” 1974, an installation which investigates experiences of migration. The book Nil Yalter: Exile is a Hard Job, published in 2019, gathers collages and montages in which the artist integrated photos and drawings of laborers and migrants with a focus on feminist issues and migration.
For Pedrosa, the 2024 Venice Biennale is also personal. “I myself feel very implicated in many of these themes, concepts, motifs, and frameworks in the exhibition. I have lived abroad and have been fortunate to travel extensively during my lifetime. Yet, often, I have also experienced the treatment reserved for a third-world foreigner as I am, although never a refugee and, in fact, holding one of the highest-ranking passports from the Global South,” he shared.
The 2024 Venice Biennale will be on view April 20 through November 24, 2024.