press release

Venice provides a special platform for contemporary art, shown by the dynamism of the Biennale. Thanks to the force of its history, the city is also linked to the archetypal idea of voyage, discovery, trade and diversity. Over the past five years, it has offered an unparalleled setting for Francois Pinault’s generous and visionary cultural project.

The world art scene – or rather, the global art scene – is no longer organised around a single centre, with a small number of creative focal points. On the contrary, from the US West Coast to the Far East, through Africa, the Middle East and the former Soviet Bloc countries, this scene is now characterised by proliferation, multiplicity, movement and nomadism. This is precisely the theme for the exhibition The World Belongs to You, for which Francois Pinault entrusted the curatorship to Caroline Bourgeois.

This project was conceived to coincide with another exhibition In Praise of Doubt, simultaneously presented at Punta della Dogana and also curated by Caroline Bourgeois.

The World Belongs to You aims to present works by artists of different generations and origins. By juxtaposing different ways of making art, disciplines and personal backgrounds, the exhibition intends to explore artists’ relationships to history, reality and its own representation. In a world often threatened by tension and self-withdrawal, the exhibition aims to approach identity, not based upon an affirmation of nationality or origins, but rather upon the way that one constructs relations with “the other”. As Édouard Glissant, who recently passed away, said, “identity should not be seen as a single root but as a root that stretches out towards other roots.”

I would like to highlight here some aspects of this exhibition, which seem particularly important and significant for Francois Pinault Foundation’s cultural project at Palazzo Grassi-Punta della Dogana.

The World Belongs to You aims to multiply the ways that the Francois Pinault Collection can be seen. This is demonstrated by the fact that among the 40 artists presented, 23 of them are being exhibited for the first time at Palazzo Grassi-Punta della Dogana.

This exhibition also testifies the will to work closely alongside artists and accompany them in the risk-taking journey, which lies at the very heart of creation. The exhibition thus offers an exceptional number of special projects, commissioned pieces and sitespecific works by artists such as Thomas Houseago, Friedrich Kunath, Matthew Day Jackson, Adrian Ghenie, Yang Jiechang, Zeng Fanzhi, Giuseppe Penone, Rudolf Stingel, and Joana Vasconcelos, whose piece has been specially adapted to the context of Palazzo Grassi.

Last but not least, the exhibition is also part of a cultural programme of unprecedented range. This involves publications and our reinforced policy to systematically conduct interviews with the artists exhibited in Venice. The catalogue for The World Belongs to You will devote a number of pages to artists from emerging countries and to those who conceived their work with this particular exhibition in mind. The programme will also embrace cinema, with the screening of artists’ films starting September. Finally, the programme embraces the academic field, with a new cycle of monthly gatherings with artists starting mid-June, which will run alongside the existing calendar of conferences (most notably, the Opera Parla, held every Wednesday).

One should of course not either forget the educational activities, which are fundamental to the cultural activity of Palazzo Grassi-Punta della Dogana and to its relationship with the city of Venice.

Beyond the figure reports, however flattering they are (over 1,300,000 visitors have come to Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana since their opening; Mapping the Studio was the second-most visited exhibition, and the first most visited contemporary art exhibition in Italy in 2010), one of Francois Pinault’s finest achievements in this adventure has been to diversify perceptions of the collection, attract a wider visiting public and get artists more involved in the life of these institutions over the last five year. A fine challenge for the next coming years as well!

A journey through The World Belongs to You The exhibition The World Belongs to You offers the public the chance to explore the world of artists from different origins, inviting them to reflect upon the vertiginous rhythm of change in a modern world characterised by nomadism, internationalism and hybridisation.

Taking its lead from Francois Pinault’s forward thinking approach to collecting, the exhibition embraces multiple fields of knowledge in order to offer a new way of understanding contemporary society. Originating from the four corners of the world – from China to South Africa, France to Italy, Japan to Iraq, the USA to Russia – the 40 presented artists all approach the upheavals of our world from different individual perspectives, illustrating the tensions but also the hopes that result from them.

The exhibition revolves around major themes of contemporary history: from the breakdown of symbols, to the temptation of self-withdrawal and isolation, the attraction of violence and spirituality in a troubled and globalised world. Each artist is presented in a space dedicated to his or her work. However, thanks to the open layout of the venue, none of these spaces are shut off from each other, thus allowing visitors to see interacting influences through different viewpoints.

Two works embody the two defining tendencies of the exhibition, including Sun Yuan & Peng Yu’s large vulture titled Waiting, 2006, which stands as a metaphor of threat, fear and hovering predators, and Thomas Houseago’s symbol of faith in human abilities in L’Homme Pressé, 2011.

Extending across the Atrium, Joana Vasconcelos’ Contamination ,2008-2010 exemplifies the porosity and interactions that inevitably exist between cultures in a globalised world. This explosion of components and colours is a veritable hymn to hybridisation.

This crossbreeding results from the disintegration of models and utopias inherited from the past – with Farhad Moshiri’s depiction of the fall of a certain type of societies such as in Iran, Ahmed Alsoudani’s paintings of mediatized torture, Friedrich Kunath’s poetic sculpture of on-going human naive perplexity, Zhang Huan’s outmoded monumental communist figures, El Anatsui and David Hammon’s stripping-bare of African and African- American’s vast culture, Huang Yong Ping’s exploration of terrorist threat, Loris Gréaud and Matthew Day Jackson’s apocalyptical announcement of a post-human world, Cyprien Gaillard’s collapse of utopias and the accepted frameworks of life, Yto Barrada’s work around the obsolescence of a touristic society, Adrian Ghenie, Sislej Xhafa, Sergey Bratkov and Boris Mikhailov’s weight of a Soviet past, Philippe Perrot’s individual guilt, and Zeng Fanzhi, Nicholas Hlobo and Yang Jiechang ‘s return to raw nature.

The voyage then continues with Bruly Bouabré and Alighiero e Boetti’s impossible representation of the world, Jonathan Wateridge, David Claerbout, and Francesco Vezzoli’s media-drenched reality and absence of spontaneity, Urs Fischer’s sculptures on the failure of the real, Sigmar Polke’s work around fragility and poverty, Charles Ray’s breakdown of the symbolic idea of family, Marlene Dumas’ depiction of women’s precarious situation, Giuseppe Penone’s solitude and impotence of man, Takashi Murakami’s absence of rupture in history, Rudolf Stingel’s décor as social reference, Maurizio Cattelan’s need for humour and humility, Ger van Elk’s desire to represent the viewers’s difficult exchange with sculpture and Lee Ufan’s spiritual experience.

This exhibition transcends cultural origins, generations and eras. The very architecture of Palazzo Grassi accentuates this theme, by providing the visitor with an almost panoramic view of the works on display whilst also allowing for an infinite variety of artistic experiences.