A little about Big Culture… with Olga Balakleets
57th Venice Biennale
This art event is definitely the major art happening in the world and every two years, it delights art lovers who come to Venice especially to check out the most interesting and controversial artworks created worldwide.
The 57th International Art Exhibition, titled VIVA ARTE VIVA, is curated by Christine Macel and opened to the public on the 13th of May. It will have its expositions at the main venues of Giardini and Arsenale until the 26th of November.
120 artists from 51 countries have been invited to take part, with 103 participating for the first time. The exhibition also includes 86 national participants in the historic pavilions at Giardini, at Arsenale and in the historic city centre of Venice.
Germany has swept the board at the 57th Venice Biennale, winning the top Golden Lion prizes for the Best National Pavilion and Best Artist. Anne Imhof’s bold “Faust” exhibits a mixing performance. It is a sculpture and installation that was cited by the jury as “a powerful and disturbing installation that poses urgent questions of our time and pushes the spectator into an aware state of anxiety”.
Other powerful pavilions came from Britain, with Phyllida Barlow’s roughly fabricated giant columns, and from the Russian pavilion, which has been transformed into a darkly-lit, cinematic site for global drama with strange gods, part mechanised and part ancient, and with the masses on the march. “Theatrum Orbis” (Theatre of the World) was conceived and created for the Russian pavilion by the artists Grisha Bruskin, Recycle Group and Sasha Pirogova; accompanied by the music of contemporary Russian composers.
The longest queues were at the American pavilion, where Mark Bradford, generally seen as one of the key artists of the moment, revisits a familiar trope of modern art; the accidental patterns created by the layering of torn fly-posters, almost on a cosmic scale. As well, there were some interesting discoveries at the Azerbajan, Czech, Japan and Canada pavilions.
The Venice Biennale definitely offers something for everyone …an exhibition not to be missed!
Cannes Film festival
This year’s 70th Cannes Film Festival has certainly been a spectacular cultural and social occasion, with an exciting menu of international films shown at the legendary Palais du Festivals and many other cinemas across Cannes.
A sea of “dresses to kill”, red carpets, glamorous actors and spectators, champagne parties and sleepless nights – this is what Cannes is all about, apart from its dedication to film. Headed by Pedro Almodóvar, the 2017 Cannes Film Festival jury featured American actor Will Smith, French producer and actor Agnès Jaoui and the Italian producer Paolo Sorrentino. The jury also included German producer Maren Aden, American actor Jessica Chastain, South Korean producer Park Chan-Wook, French composer Gabriel Yared and the Chinese actor Fan Bingbing. The Square, by Ruben Östlund, picked up the Palme d’Or and the Grand Prix went to 120 Beats Per Minute, which charts the early days of AIDS activism in the 1990s in Paris. Loveless, by Andrey Zvyagintsev, was expected to win the top gong, but he had to settle for the Jury Prize.
Loveless is set in 2012 and marks Zvyagintsev’s third appearance at the Cannes Film Festival. The film tells the story of two parents who are intensely wrapped up in their divorce and preparing for their respective futures. As a consequence, they have little interest in their son, until, that is, he disappears. The Russian director takes the meaning of the word ‘broken’ to a whole other level in this film.
The 70th Anniversary Award went to this year’s favourite Cannes star, Nicole Kidman, who starred in The Beguiled, which earned its director, Sofia Coppola, the Best Director prize. Coppola became only the second woman to win the directing honour in Cannes’ 56 year history. The Best Actress was Diane Kruger (The Fade) with the Best Actor given to Joaquin Phoenix (You Were Never Really Here). The Best Screenplay (tie) went to Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthymis Filippou for The Killing of a Sacred Deer and Lynne Ramsay for You Were Never Really Here. The Camera d’Or prize (best debut film) went to Leonor Serraille for Jeune Femme and the Short Film Prize went to A Gentle Night by Qiu Yang. It was a true celebration of cinematographic excellence!