The 58th Venice Biennale includes some of the best global artists under 40. But, says Jason Farago, it is a lukewarm, nebulous edition that doesn’t know what it wants
The Independent Culture
The installation ‘Thinking Head’ (2018) by Lara Favaretto envelops visitors at the entrance to the central pavilion of the Giardini della Biennale in a dense cloud of artificial fog
The installation ‘Thinking Head’ (2018) by Lara Favaretto envelops visitors at the entrance to the central pavilion of the Giardini della Biennale in a dense cloud of artificial fog ( La Biennale di Venezia )
Every other spring I come to this waterlogged city, take the vaporetto waterbus to a garden on its eastern edge and walk into a large white building. This year, I had some trouble making it out. Here in the Giardini della Biennale, the principal site of the world’s most enduring exhibition of contemporary art, Italian artist Lara Favaretto has enveloped the white central pavilion in a dense cloud of artificial fog. The words La Biennale, above the colonnade, fade into formlessness.
Let Favaretto’s cloud stand as the emblem for this diffuse biennial, which brings together many of the biggest names in art today but never quite coheres. Ralph Rugoff, the London-based American curator, has fashioned a show that aims to take stock of our foggy present, when shared narratives have collapsed and we struggle to find our bearings. His show is handsomely installed in some places, and elsewhere weirdly indifferent to display. It’s up to the minute but also safe and detached. The 58th Venice Biennale is a lukewarm, nebulous edition, and I wish I knew what it wanted.