• Ideas
  • May 07, 2019

Previews: 58th Venice Biennale

Exterior view of the Arsenale, one of the venues for the Venice Biennale. Photo by Andrea Avezzù. Courtesy La Biennale di Venezia.

We certainly do live in interesting times—if “interesting” means politically tumultuous and environmentally precarious. Artistic director of the 58th Venice Biennale, Ralph Rugoff, director of London’s Hayward Gallery, took the title for the central exhibition from a 1936 speech in which a member of the British parliament, Austen Chamberlain, cited an apocryphal Chinese curse. Though there is no such curse—as Rugoff acknowledges—the MP’s follow-up lines, “We move from one crisis to another. We suffer one disturbance and shock after another,” still ring true in our era.