la biennale

Maurice Carlin, one of 23 artists who received a Venice Go and see bursary from a-n, takes a tour of the national pavilions and collateral events at the Giardini, Arsenale and beyond, and finds himself washed up in a flood of contemporary art.

Having come direct from a tranquil two-week artist residency in Ibiza, the rush of Venice preview week makes for a sharp change of pace to say the least. With hundreds of exhibitions, talks and events on offer, I find myself pacing around the leisurely alleyways of the city to catch just a fraction of the work on show.

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Over at the Arsenale, Wang Chunchen, curator of the Chinese pavilion, describes Ai Weiwei as a “special example” who cannot in any way be taken as a general representation of Chinese identity. The curator wants to use this show as a platform to specifically articulate to the West that “Chinese art is more diverse that we might imagine.” He brings up an important point that, in the rush to embrace Ai Weiwei’s critique of China, we perhaps carelessly ignore our own political and societal shortcomings.

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Maurice Carlin is a Manchester-based artist and co-founder of the Islington Mill Art Academy, a peer-led experiment into alternative modes of art education.

The 55th Venice Biennale opens to the public from 1 June – 24 November. www.labiennale.org

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