(Dis)Rupture, (Re) Engage: Occupation and Protest at the Venice Biennale
The Venice Biennale serves as a major international art exhibition celebrating achievements in contemporary art, architecture, film, theater, and dance. Since the turn of the twentieth century, countries select artists to represent their nation and respond to a general theme developed by the Biennale curatorial staff. However, located outside the Biennale pavilions, artist-activists seek to disrupt the formal gallery and exhibition spaces. Though the tradition of protest and disrupture that dates to the 1960s, I examine two recent protest-performances at the 2015 Art Biennale and 2018 Architecture Biennale that respond to environmental, labor, and social issues affecting marginalized and vulnerable populations. Gulf Labor’s collaboration on the #GuggOccupied protest (2015) and the women’s protest at the 2018 Architecture Biennale each used the streets, sidewalks, and docks around/between the Biennale pavilions as platforms for critiquing these issues. These protest-interventions exemplify the greater socio-artistic effects produced against the backdrop of the Venice Biennale.