Best of the Biennale: Top pavilions to visit around Venice

In just over two weeks’ time, the 2017 Venice Biennale will draw to a close – but there’s still time to catch some of the top quality contemporary art on offer, before the festival ends on 26th November.  We’ve chosen three of our favourite pavilions around the city:

IRAQ: Housed in Palazzo Cavalli-Franchetti in Campo Santo Stefano, this pavilion presents the work of eight modern and contemporary Iraqi artists in dialogue with forty ancient Iraqi artefacts spanning six millennia, on loan from the Iraq Museum.  The exhibition explores the notion of the “archaic”, referring simultaneously to Iraq’s ancient cultural past as well as its existing political, administrative, social and economic reality – which is arguably as archaic as the historical artefacts on display.  The show also considers the way the country’s history has affected its Modern and contemporary visual languages, and examines the opportunities and restrictions presented to the nation by its immense ancient heritage.

Palazzo Cavalli-Franchetti, San Marco 2847

GRENADA: Situated on the Zattere in Dorsoduro, the Grenada Pavilion presents an exhibition titled “The Bridge”, exploring the idea that art is a bridge than connects and unifies people from diverse islands, countries and continents of the world.  Amongst the highlights is a display by Jason de Caires Taylor, known for his ethereal underwater sculpture parks where human statues are submerged on the seabed to create new habitats and support marine conservation.  The show also includes an installation by Asher Mains titled ‘Sea Lungs’, portraying the life and death of an ocean reef, and dwelling on mankind’s relationship with the sea.

Grenada Pavilion, Fondamente Zattere 417, Dorsoduro

NIGERIA: 2017 marks the first time Nigeria is participating in the Venice Biennale.  The inaugural exhibition, titled “How About NOW?” features work by three of the country’s most prominent living artists – Victor Ehikhamenor, Peju Alatise and Qudus Onikeku – each reflecting on contemporary Nigerian life.  Invoking themes of history, fantasy and memory, alongside more fundamental concerns related to nationhood and post-colonial self-awareness, the artists respond through installations, painting and performance to the multifaceted way in which Nigerian contemporaneity may be conceived today.

Scoletta dei Tiraoro e Battioro, Campo San Stae, Santa Croce