There is a lot going on outside the two main venues and it’s not just national pavilions. Often collateral and non-affiliated events have some great works to show too, her are my highlights:
Portable Classic @ Fondazione Prada
If you get sick of the contemporary then head to this new museum for some classical sculpture goodness. A new exhibition space opens with a study of how Greek sculpture evolved and it’s glorious. It’s not just full of great examples but also superbly curated.
Patricia Cronin – A shrine for girls
A simple but powerful exhibition where a church has three shrines covered with clothing representing repressed and abused women across the world. Saris represent the raped women of India, hijabs the schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram and the aprons of forced labour institutions only recently no longer sanctioned in the US and Europe. A powerful statement made elegantly.
Doug Fishbone’s Leisure Land Golf
I’m quickly becoming a fan of Fishbone’s projects after his excellent show at Dulwich Picture Gallery. This time he takes the kitsch activity of mini golf and has artists design the holes so you’re never clear whether it’s still kitsch or now has some intrinsic artistic value – something that could be said for a lot of works on the art market today.
Frontiers Re-imagined @ Museo di Palazzo Grimaldi
A very impressive collection of great artists including Sebastiao Salgado and Edward Burtynsky. I loved Nina Sarabutra’s floor of mini skulls, they crackle underfoot and walking across them is very unsettling.
Contemporary Korean art is often very high on visual appeal and pop sensibilities, so it’s nice to see a change from the other Biennale exhibitions. Forget Agnes Martin at Tate Modern, this is how minimalism is done.
Others to consider
For two Biennale straight the Palazzo Brembo has played host to a large and visually arresting exhibition. It’s worth seeing as you’re bound to find something to your liking, even if all of it doesn’t quite come together.