PAOLO BARATTA - President of la Biennale di Venezia
We celebrate this year the 120th anniversary of the first Art Exhibition (1895). The International Exhibition curated by Okwui Enwezor expands from the Central Pavilion at the Giardini to the Arsenale, and to external areas. 89 partecipating countries (58 un 1997), 29 in the historic pavilions in the Giardini, 31 in the spaces dedicated to the countries within the Arsenale (where restoration work continues on 16th century buildings), and the rest in other buildings in Venice. 44 Collateral Events presented by non-profit organisations and admitted by our curator. The Biennale moves forward and builds on its own history, which is formed of many memories but, in particular, a long succession of different perspectives from which to observe the phenomenon of contemporary artistic creation. Curiger, Gioni, Enwezor: three chapters in a research process engaged by la Biennale to explore the benchmarks that can help us formulate aesthetic judgments on contemporary art, a critical question following the demise of the avant-gardes and non-art. Okwui does not claim to pass judgment, his wish is to bring together arts and artists from throughout the world and from different disciplines, to instate a Parliament of Forms, as it were. 136 artists, of which 89 for the first time, from 53 countries, many of them from geographical areas that we paradoxically insist on defining as peripheral. 159 works on display are expressly realized for this year edition. In the more intimate Biennales as in the ones that more dramatically draw in history, what is important is that the Exhibition must always be seen as a venue for free and indipendent dialogue.