The Venice Issue
April 2024

‘In Venice, it is essential not to stroll or idle or appear leisurely or slack’  Colm Tóibín

The April issue of frieze is dedicated to the 60th Venice Biennale Arte. Dare Turner talks to Jeffrey Gibson, Archie Moore and Inuuteq Storch about the challenges and opportunities of working within the settler colonial framework of their respective national pavilions. Plus, novelist Colm Tóibín observes the city through the lens of its artists and writers, with specially commissioned photography by Eric Scaggiante.

Roundtable: Presenting the Nations

‘How can we pull apart umbrella terms and narratives for communities and individuals to talk about their experiences?’ This year’s Venice Biennale sees several projects by Indigenous artists from across the globe. Here, three of them discuss the challenges and opportunities of working within the American, Australian and Danish national pavilions.

‘1,500 Words’: Colm Tóibín

‘What a relief to stand in front of a painting of a saint who made himself useful.’ A novelist observes Venice through the eyes of those practitioners who have lived and worked in the city over the centuries.

Also featuring

Associate editor Vanessa Peterson meets with John Akomfrah ahead of his Venice presentation to discuss the challenges of representing the UK at this year’s biennial and the overdue recognition of Black British art. Eric Otieno Sumba analyzes the complex legacies of artists and pavilions from the African continent at the Biennale. Senior editor Terence Trouillot sits down with artists Koo Jeong A of South Korea and Yuko Mohri of Japan, to discuss their respective presentations and the obsolescence of national divisions.

Columns: Mother Tongues

Francesca Tarocco asks how artists and activist groups care for the city’s social ecosystems, while Eimear Walsheconsiders an anthem for Irish speakers. Rahel Aima on the Abdullah Al Saadi alphabet made from ephemera, and Ela Bittencourt explores how MAHKU’s murals give form to ancestral music traditions. Plus, Charlene K. Lau on The Altersea Opera, which brings the cultural imaginary of Cantonese restaurants to the Swedish pavilion.

Finally, to commemorate Nil Yalter receiving the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at this year’s Venice Biennale, Simon Wu looks back on the artist’s longstanding series, ‘Exile Is a Hard Job’. Plus, Jeffrey Gibson contributes to the series of artists’ ‘to-do’ lists and the latest (and final) iteration of our beloved Lonely Arts column.

From this issue

To address the continent’s lack of representation on the world stage, the Biennale should look to festivals like Nigeria’s FESTAC ’77

BY Eric Otieno Sumba |

We spoke with the artists representing Japan and South Korea about their Venice exhibitions and the obsolescence of national divisions

Dare Turner talks with Jeffrey Gibson, Archie Moore and Inuuteq Storch about working within the settler colonial framework of American, Australian and Danish pavilions

We discuss the challenges of representing the UK at the Venice Biennale with the artist in his north London studio

BY Vanessa Peterson |

A renowned novelist wanders the city's streets, immersed in its cultural offerings with one rule: no idling

BY Colm Tóibín |

The Indigenous Brazilian movement brings to life its ancestral musical traditions

BY Ela Bittencourt |

The multi-faceted Nordic Pavilion is a nautical Gesamtkunstwerk about language, translation and how it functions in the globalized world

BY Charlene K. Lau |

To honour the artist's Golden Lion for lifetime achievement at the Venice Biennale, Simon Wu reflect on her long-standing poster series

BY Simon Wu |

A look at the artists and activist groups caring for the social ecologies of the city

BY Francesca Tarocco |

Representing the UAE at the Biennale, the artist is considered a founding member of the Emirati avant-garde of the 1980s and ’90s

BY Rahel Aima |

The artist representing Ireland at the Venice Biennale discusses songs that subverts the country’s history of linguistic oppression

BY Eimear Walshe |

The photographer curates the perfect soundtrack for exploring Venice during the 60th edition of the Biennale

BY Eric Scaggiante |

Inspired by artist and activist Palle Nielsen, over 30 artists and collectives unite for ‘A Model’ at MUDAM, Luxembourg, to challenge the role of institutions in contemporary society

BY Max L. Feldman |

Assembled by an all-Thai curatorial team, the third Thailand Biennale brilliantly exhibits the rich cultural milieu of the country’s Golden Triangle, near Laos and Myanmar

BY Vipash Purichanont |

A survey of the artist's expansive career in Antwerp invites audiences into a surreal realm populated by everything from Ken dolls to enormous golden chicks

BY Ren Ebel |

At EXILE in Vienna, the artist explores the consequences of an overproducing world on the brink of environmental collapse

BY Ramona Heinlein |

A new exhibition in Nottingham reveals the often unseen aspects of the photographic process

BY Reuben Esien |

At Kunstverein München, a new film by the artist explores the use of aerial photography as propaganda during the National Socialist Regime

BY Gabriela Acha |

At Esther Schipper, Berlin, the artist’s self-portraits display a tension between concealment and revelation

BY Louisa Elderton |

At Bally Foundation, Lugano, the artist uses dance as a way to move beyond loss

BY Talia Kwartler |

The unfazed female figures in the artist’s ‘Hotel Paintings’ may be viewed as a playful act of self-satire

BY Chloe Stead |

At Museum of the Moving Image, New York, a retrospective of the artist reveals an enchantment with technology’s possibilities and a disillusionment with its uses

BY Cassie Packard |

At 52 Walker, New York, the artist honours the poet by bridging her writing and her beloved Los Angeles

BY Jane Ursula Harris |

At STPI Creative Workshop & Gallery, a modest survey of the artist reflects on how we share and absorb information and knowledge

BY Andrew Maerkle |

A solo exhibition at Lagune Ouest, Copenhagen, takes a nostalgic look at the favoured haunt of Danish intellectuals

BY Alice Godwin |

At the Art Gallery of Guelph, the late artist’s vibrant drawings depict interspecies relationships and the land that unites them

BY Georgia Phillips-Amos |

The artist’s solo show at Rose Easton in London features Br’er Rabbit, who rummages through cultural ruins in search of something new

BY Sam Moore |

At Peres Projects, Milan, the artist's new video takes her idolization of My Chemical Romance to cinematic new levels

BY Giovanna Manzotti |

At Marian Goodman, Los Angeles, the artist’s extraterrestrial works are haunted by real-world doom

BY Claudia Ross |

In Dublin, the sculptor creates a fragile yet majestic symbol of power by reimagining the famous marble felines of Rome’s Villa Medici

At Mendes Wood DM’s Casa Iramaia, São Paulo, two artists, separated by a century, are engaged in a nocturnal dialogue

BY Mateus Nunes |

At Jameel Arts Center, Dubai, a group show examines the role of hospitality in the UAE and the wider Gulf region

BY Rahel Aima |

At the Hepworth Wakefield, the artist’s large-scale compositions and intimate miniatures on book covers conjure a subtle and imaginative realm

BY Rowland Bagnall |