Venice: Art Biennale 2017

Every two years since 1895, Venice has hosted the Art Biennale, a contemporary visual art exhibition. The Biennale is now a major international Art Expo that features contributions from around the world as well as attracting over half a million visitors to the city.

While there are official Biennale locations all across Venice, the main locations are the The Giardini, which houses 30 permanent national pavilions, and The Arsenale, where an exhibition of invited artists takes place. The Arsenale also houses many countries that do not have a permanent pavilion, including Ireland, which is represented this year by Jesse Jones with her work called Tremble Tremble.

Video of Irish actor Olwen Fouere as a witch dismantling the architecture of (in)justice in Tremble Tremble, by Jesse Jones for Ireland at Venice Biennale 2017

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Once upon a time in Venice

Gondola Service, Venice. 2017.

I was in Venice recently to check out the 2017 Art Biennale exhibition. The low and heavy clouds gave the city a fog that was both otherworldly and romantic. Even when cold and grey, Venice has an allure; a faded elegance that gives the city a slightly unreal quality.  Like it is a beautifully art-directed film set. It’s the perfect setting to be inspired by art.

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Mayo Days

I visited the coastline of North Mayo —part of Ireland’s visually stunning Wild Atlantic Way. The rugged and breath-taking landscape features the amazing Dun Briste Sea Stack as well as areas of unique historical importance, like the Ceide Fields. Hidden for thousands of years under bog land, these Neolithic stone field markings are the oldest known such field systems in the world. They are over five and a half thousand years old and shed light on the kind of communities that were in existence in this part of Ireland at that time: large groups of organised farmers who lived in relatively peaceful conditions. Climate change and political upheaval are suggested as the reason why the communities disbanded, leaving behind farmlands that were eventually consumed by the bogs. The fields were excavated by archaeologists over the last 40 years and there is now a fascinating interpretative centre at the site to explain their origins.

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