Immersed in art at Venice Biennale

Published: Wednesday 5th August 2015

Charged with one of the busiest and most important jobs in the contemporary art world, Venice Biennale curator Okwui Enwezor doesn’t have a whole lot of time to mingle with the visitors attending his event.

But during two weeks in June, Mr Enwezor charmed a group of ACU Visual Arts students in Venice as they soaked up the Venice Biennale’s heady atmosphere. He took the time to talk about his stewardship of one of the biggest art events in the world and of course posed for selfies.

The ACU students were part of a June study program involving 50 ACU Bachelor of Visual Arts and Bachelor of Teaching/Bachelor of Arts students, along with Lecturers Lachlan Warner, Dr Victoria Carruthers and Dr Penelope Trotter.

The tour group crammed in visits and seminars in as many Biennale and Collateral Museum exhibitions as the schedule could take, as well as visits to the Guggenheim, The Academia and a final trip to the great La Fenice Opera House to hear the exquisite sounds of Vivaldi. Collateral shows run in conjunction with the Biennale, but outside of the official exhibitions.

Third year student Sean Waddell says the experience of immersion in Art offered by the Venice trip will provide the fuel for further learning now that the students are home, “I believe it is safe to say on behalf of all students who attended, we have returned from this trip with a greater context for understanding art and the art world.”

“The friendships and positive relationships built amongst the students and staff has allowed for a deeper analysis and discourse of the artists and artworks that would not have been possible within a regular classroom setting.”

Held every second year, the Venice Biennale again this year accepted ACU as a Sessions member, meaning the ACU name was listed at the front entrance with 30 other leading international tertiary art institutions.

For Bachelor of Visual Arts student, Marina Chi, the trip allowed her to put her own artistic pursuits into a grander global context, “I had no idea art in all its forms could be so appreciated and embedded into the everyday and the mainstream. It was an eye-opener and a good source of motivation.”

“I think there is also something about being immersed in art for 14 days non-stop. There was no TV or much Internet. There was no part- time work. Your brain really has a chance to think and enjoy this thing called art. It becomes a bigger part of who you are and what you do on an everyday basis. I learnt to live as an artist rather than ‘work’ as one.

"It helped me remember why I chose to become an artist, why I love it so much and why I believe it to be so important.”