May 11th, 2015

“Everyone is working happily, the sun is shining all the time. It’s totally awful,” says the voice. We are in Venice again, reclining on white sun-loungers in a dark space, illuminated by a grid of blue light. Up on the screen people are dancing, joking and pretending to be killed. Hito Steyerl has plunged us into a video game motion-capture studio, in the German pavilion at the 56th biennale. It is a world of total surveillance and artificial pleasures. “I’m not sure where the game ends and real life begins. It turns out you are your own enemy and you have to make your way through a motion-capture studio gulag,” the voice explains, laconically. She could be talking about the biennale, whose keynote theme, this time, is All the World’s Futures.

While national pavilions each do their own thing, the main exhibition in the central pavilion, and running through the medieval dockyard buildings of the Arsenale, is curated by Okwui Enwezor. You cannot curate an entire world, or all its possible futures. That would be God’s job, but Enwezor has hubris enough to try. If his exhibition fails, it does so on a grand scale. There is too much to take in, too many artists – 139 of them – to get to grips with. Compendious and difficult, All the World’s Futures has everything from contemporary images of caged and ditch-digging convicts in Louisiana to the depression-era photographs of Walker Evans. Here are the gorgeous new paintings of Chris Ofili, lush and swooning against walls of hand-painted foliage. Here are the horrible new paintings ofGeorg Baselitz. (I can’t understand for the life of me why he is here.)We can dip into the entire film corpus of the late Harun Farocki and play among the 108 objects in Qiu Zhijie’s magical theatre of hanging lanterns, lighthouses and suspended birds. Sometimes, a great bell tolls…

Writes Adrian Searle in The Guardian

Link to the full article here / Link to The Guardian here

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