Foreigners Everywhere: Highlights From The Venice Biennale

LTArt Chief Curator Jessica Tanghetti returns to one of the art calendar's top events: the Venice Biennale.

24 April, 2024

Claire Fontaine, Foreigners Everywhere / Stranieri Ovunque, 2004-24,. Courtesy: La Biennale di Venezia; credits: Marco Zorzanello

Year after year, the art calendar becomes increasingly dense and internationally widespread; however, there is an appointment to which the art community jointly attributes the highest position on the podium: the Venice Art Biennale, which, since 1895, takes place every two years in Venice.

The Venice Biennale is acknowledged as one of the most prestigious cultural institutions worldwide and oversees the activity of 87 national pavilions, spread mainly in the Giardini and Arsenale areas, plus a small number throughout the city. 

The 60th International Art Exhibition, 'Stranieri Ovunque – Foreigners Everywhere', curated by Adriano Pedrosa, is open to the public from Saturday, April 20th to Sunday, November 24th, 2024. The title of the 60th Exhibition is drawn from a series of works started in 2004 by collective Claire Fontaine: neon sculptures in different colours that render in a growing number of languages the words, 'Foreigners Everywhere', which are actually exhibited in the Corderia dell’Arsenale. As explained by Adriano Pedrosa: 'The backdrop for the work is a world rife with multifarious crises concerning the movement and existence of people across countries, nations, territories and borders, which reflect the perils and pitfalls of language, translation, nationality, expressing differences and disparities conditioned by identity, nationality, race, gender, sexuality, freedom, and wealth. In this panorama, the expression, "Foreigners Everywhere", has several meanings. First of all, that wherever you go and wherever you are you will always encounter foreigners—they/we are everywhere. Secondly, that no matter where you find yourself, you are always truly, and deep down inside, a foreigner'.

Claire Fontaine, Foreigners Everywhere (Stranieri Ovunque), 2004-24 Courtesy: La Biennale di Venezia; credits: Marco Zorzanello

The 2024 Biennale Exhibition presents 331 artists and collectives who have lived or currently live in and among 80 countries, including Hong Kong, Palestine and Puerto Rico, reflecting how artists have always travelled and moved for a wide variety of reasons. The main focus of the Biennale Arte 2024 is therefore on 'those artists who are foreigners, immigrants, expatriates, diasporans, exiles or refugees, particularly those who move between the Global South and Global North'. 

This is clearly displayed in the central exhibition curated by Adriano Pedrosa (partly held at the Giardini main Pavilion and partly at the Arsenale), who mainly selected artists from underrepresented countries, migrants or with a colonial background. Many of them have been presented for the first time at the Venice Biennale, including artists who are no longer living, such as Bertina Lopes, originally from Mozambique, or Philomé Obin and his brother Seneque Obin, from Haiti, as well as living artists, such as Pablo Delano, from Puerto Rico, or Joseca Mokahesi, born in the Brazilian Amazon and belonging to the Yanomami indigenous population.