We are broadcasting from Venice, Italy, the site of the Venice Biennale, the oldest and most prestigious international art exhibition, where this year’s theme is “All the World’s Futures.” The gathering has not been without controversy. In May, Venice shut down Iceland’s pavilion after the artist Christoph Büchel, working in collaboration with the Muslim communities of Venice and Iceland, turned a 10th century church that had been closed down for 40 years into a working mosque. Police claimed the art project was a “threat to public safety.” Last week, the Gulf Labor Coalition staged an hour-long occupation of the second floor of the Israeli Pavilion. The group has also protested the use of migrant laborers to build Guggenheim’s new museum in Abu Dhabi. We discuss past and present protests at the Biennale with Marco Baravalle, a Venice-based artist, activist and author who spoke at a panel discussion organized by the Gulf Labor Coalition called “Who Needs Museums and Biennales?” Baravalle also examines the impact of climate change and austerity on life in Venice.
Marco Baravalle, a Venice-based artist with the group S.a.L.E. Docks.