Seven Must-See Pavilions at the 2017 Venice Biennale

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One of the grandest stops on the art world’s Grand Tour, the Venice Biennale could be thought of as a World Cup for art. Sure, it lacks the fanaticism of FIFA’s premier event, but the Biennale is arguably the planet’s biggest stage for visual artists, offering its own spectacle. This year’s festival, on view May 13 to November 26, will feature 85 countries seeking the Golden Lion, the award given to the top national presentation.

Another component of the Biennale is the sprawling multiartist exhibition, organized this year by Pompidou Center curator Christine Macel, at Venice’s Arsenale and the Giardini. Dozens of ancillary shows and events round out the collective snapshot of the art world now. The Biennale has considerable cultural and art-market impact, as global trends are set and reputations cemented. Here are seven pavilions you won’t want to miss.

South Africa


Mohau Modisakeng (pictured) will collaborate with fellow South African artist Candice Breitz at this year’s Biennale.

Photo: Courtesy of the artist

On view will be a dialogue between Johannesburg-born artists Candice Breitz and Mohau Modisakeng. Breitz, whose past works include a mash-up of the films Basic Instinct, Dirty Harry, and The Witches of Eastwick, will address issues of empathy
in a culture where identification with celebrities is as common as indifference to people facing hardship. Modisakeng’s multimedia work is rooted in his coming-of-age during his nation’s transition from apartheid.