Places for Sculpture

Venice Biennale, Münster Sculpture Projects, documenta 14

This year is offering a particularly rare confluence of impressive international art events in Europe: documenta will make its quinquennial appearance, this year in both Athens, Greece and Kassel, Germany; the Münster Sculpture Projects is returning for its decennial public art event; and the Venice Biennale prepares for its more frequent exhibition of contemporary art. Amid all the activity, find out what themes and strategies some of the top global art events are dreaming up this year.

Venice Biennale

The 57th edition of the Venice Biennale of Art is opening this May, under the classical theme VIVA ARTE VIVA, curated by Centre Pompidou’s Christine Macel. Every second year—with alternating architecture biennials in the off-years—the grounds of the Giardini and Arsenale venues in the historic Italian lagoon city play host to exhibitions by established contemporary artists representing 87 countries in their national pavilions, as well as a series of collateral exhibitions, performances, and events.

This year’s central exhibition VIVA ARTE VIVA in the Arsenale is inspired by humanism, and celebrates mankind’s ability to avoid being dominated by world affairs. In a twist on the usual showing, this year 103 of the 120 artists invited to join the exhibition are newcomers to the Venice Biennale.

As Biennale chairperson Paolo Barratta notes, “These courageous choices, too, are a concrete expression of our confidence in the world of art.”

The national pavilions are tackling pressing themes this year, with L.A.-based abstract painter Mark Bradford representing this year’s U.S. pavilion. Bradford’s work examines race, class-, and gender-based economies that inform urban society in America, and his exhibition Tomorrow is Another Day will reflect on everyday signifiers—the hair salon, Home Depot, and L.A. city streets—and how they become transformed through the lens of marginalized people, to engage urgent political conversation and action.

 Venice Biennale runs from May 13 through November 26.


Münster Sculpture Projects

The Münster Sculpture Projects, which began in 1977 and runs every 10 years, invites international artists to reflect on the relationship between art, public space, and the urban environment. This year, close to 30 new, site-specific artistic productions will be presented across the city of Münster, Germany from June until October.

Artistic Director Kasper König and Curator Britta Peters have selected artists whose work engages with contemporary concepts of sculpture and publicness, to represent this decade’s exhibition with a focus on interaction and participation. While the event takes place in a variety of public spaces, it is not straightforwardly optimistic about art’s relationship to the public, but is rather interested in exploring the ambivalence therein. To what extent can sculpture and public art activate communities through engagement, critique, provocation, or even disruption?

The 25 participating artists for this year’s event hail from 19 different countries, and their work ranges from sculpture to performance art. While most are from Europe, American artists John Knight, Justin Matherly, Michael Smith, and Oscar Tuazon will be presenting new works in Münster this year, as well as established artists from Argentina, Hong Kong, Japan, Iran, Turkey, and Kenya.

Münster Sculpture Projects runs from June 10 through October 1, 2017.


Founded in 1955, the now 62-year-old documenta is celebrating its 14th edition by partnering with the city of Athens and Greece’s National Museum of Contemporary Art (EMST). This year marks the first time that the documenta exhibition will be held in a second city, in addition to Kassel, Germany.

The collaboration, titled Learning from Athens, focuses on a shared concern: How are art and its institutions made public and part of the common good? documenta 14 is hosted in the Greek modernist building of the EMST in Athens this year, while the Fridericianum in Kassel is housing a selection of EMST’s permanent collection, marking its first ever presentation in Germany.

Artistic Director Adam Szymczyk initiated the collaboration to reverse the long-standing role of Kassel’s institutions as hosts of documenta, instead placing the major art event in the position of guest. The exhibition features an extensive public program, including a central discursive program called “Parliament of Bodies,” a performative structure challenging the traditional exhibition/public program divide. The program asks: “Can an exhibition be thought of as a Parliament of Bodies, as an ensemble of relationships between animate and inanimate beings producing agency through cooperation?”

documenta 14 began in April 2017 and runs through September 17, 2017.

Written by Alison Hugill
Managing editor, Berlin Art Link

Nasher Artists in Venice, Münster, Kassel/Athens this summer

Nairy Baghramian
Upcoming exhibition in 2018
Münster Sculpture Projects and documenta 14

 Phyllida Barlow
Phyllida Barlow, 2015
Venice Biennale

Ernesto Neto
Cuddle on the Tightrope, 2012
Venice Biennale

Michael Dean
Sightings: Michael Dean, 2017
Münster Sculpture Projects

Pierre Huyghe
Nasher Prize Laureate, 2017
Münster Sculpture Projects

Rick Lowe
Nasher XChange, 2014
documenta 14

Rio Terà dei Pensieri Social Cooperative participants and artist Mark Bradford in Rio Terà dei Pensieri Social Cooperative’s produce garden inside the women’s prison. Casa Reclusione per Donne Giudecca, Venice, Italy, November 2016. Photo Agata Gravante
Mark Bradford, My Grandmother Felt the Color, 2016. The Baltimore Museum of Art: Purchased as the gift of Anonymous Donors, BMA R.17881. Photo: Joshua White, Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth.
Rio Terà dei Pensieri Social Cooperative participant working in the kiosk. Campo Santo Stefano, Venice, Italy. 30 July 2016. Photo: Agata Gravante
Location Check, 2016. ©Munster Sculpture Projects
Kasper König, photo by Arne Wesenberg Fridericianum, Kassel. Photo by Mathias Voelzke. Courtesy Documenta
Haven inspection and material sample, 2016. ©Munster Sculpture Projects
Material Sample, 2016. Photo credit: Julia Jung. ©Munster Sculpture Projects
Fridericianum, Kassel. Photo by Mathias Voelzke. Courtesy documenta
Nasher Sculpture Center
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