AAR’s Guide to the Venice Biennale

Color photo of a staircase landing in an Italian palazzo with an abstract painting on one wall
Installation view of Julie Mehretu’s Among the Multitude XIII (2021–22) at Palazzo Grassi in Venice (photograph by Marco Cappelletti and © Palazzo Grassi, Pinault Collection)
Color photo of a multipaneled altarpiece made from contemporary paintings installed in an Italian church
Installation view of Yu Hong: Another One Bites the Dust, organized by AAR trustee Alexandra Munroe (artwork © Yu Hong; photograph by George Darrell)

The art world has converged upon the historic city of Venice for the 60th International Art Exhibition: La Biennale di Venezia. Against this dynamic backdrop, the American Academy in Rome proudly recommends a series of exhibitions and events—some officially part of the Venice Biennale, others collateral events for it or independently produces shows and projects—that features Academy Fellows and Residents. Here, we delve into seven captivating highlights from this prestigious event.

Julie Mehretu

Palazzo Grassi
Campo San Samuele, 3231
March 17, 2024–January 6, 2025

Organized by Caroline Bourgeois, chief curator of the Pinault Collection, along with the artist, Ensemble presents over fifty works in painting and printmaking that Julie Mehretu (2020 Resident) has produced over the last twenty-five years, including several paintings from 2021 to 2024. Presented over two floors of Palazzo Grassi, the exhibition commingles seventeen pieces from Pinault with museum and collection loans.

The largest exhibition of Mehretu’s work to date in Europe, Ensemble follows a principle of visual echoes as it lays out a free, achronological journey through the artist’s career. The presentation is punctuated by the presence of works by her closest artist friends, including Nairy Baghramian, Huma Bhabha, Tacita Dean, David Hammons (1990 Fellow), Paul Pfeiffer, and Jessica Rankin. Beyond their formal differences, common concerns and shared driving forces become apparent, challenging the idea that Mehretu is self-sufficient and showing that, on the contrary, she is connected to others, to their thoughts and sensibilities.

Roberto Juarez and Tomaso De Luca

Amigos y Amigas
Palazzo Tiepolo
Campo San Polo 1957
April 15–21, 2024

Amigos y Amigas, curated by Fabio Cherstich, focuses on Roberto Juarez (1998 Fellow) and his artist friends, among them Raúl De Nieves, Tomaso De Luca (2018 Italian Fellow), and Elaine Reichek. The exhibition constitutes the evolution of a prior show, Roberto Juarez ‘80s East Village Large Works on Paper + Downtown Amigos y Amigas, at APALAZZOGALLERY in Brescia in late 2023.

Juarez’s creativity has been influenced by his Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage. “As a child, it was thru TV and movies where I developed ideas of exotic island life and other cultures. This would be contrasted with family trips and pilgrimages to churches and holy sites of Mexico where I connected with the vibrant colors and landscapes. They were ‘mine to use.’ Subsequent trips as a college student to Mexico exposed me to Precolumbian art (pottery, wall paintings) which gave me inspiration in the simple and direct way of making images.”

Color photo of a satellite orbiting earth
Xu Bing’s Art Satellite

Xu Bing

Art Satellite—The First Animated Film Shot in Space
Chiesa di san geremia e santa lucia
Campo San Geremia, 334
April 17–September 7, 2024

Ahead of his upcoming exhibition at the Academy, Xu Bing (2024 Resident) unveils the world’s first freeze-frame animation shot in outer space, offering a transcendent exploration of humanity’s relationship with the cosmos. This three-minute film was shot using a retired orbiting satellite, Ladybug-1. From a church in Venice to the depths of space, Art Satellite blurs the boundaries between Earth and beyond, inviting viewers to ponder the interconnected nature of existence and the infinite possibilities of creative expression. The works in the exhibition use space technology to follow and respond to, from a broader viewpoint, a wish that has been carried forward from ancient times to the present by the church. The wish, engraved on the outside of the church, is, “All’ Italia al mondo implori luce pace” (Bringing light and peace to Italy and to the whole world).

Dread Scott (2024 Fellow)

All African People’s Consulate
Castello 1636/A
April 17–19, 2024

All African People’s Consulate, a Venice Biennale collateral event by Dread Scott (2024 Fellow), was organized by Open Society Foundations and the Africa Center, with support from the Fellows’ Project Fund of the American Academy in Rome, Cristin Tierney Gallery, Wake Forest University, and Art Events. All African People’s Consulate is a functioning consulate for an imaginary Pan-African, Afrofuturist union of countries, promoting cultural and diplomatic relations. The consulate’s premise is the opposite of most existing immigration choke points; while those often function to constrain admittance and movement. Scott’s consulate facilitates ways to let one in. In a convivial setting, one is invited to stay, converse, and interact in organic, spontaneous ways. In the consulate visitors can apply for an All African People’s Community passport or visa. They will interview with consulate staff and discuss their relationship to Africa, their family history of migration, and more. For those of African descent, the consulate facilitates their citizenship in this futurist, globalist community, presenting them with a personalized passport. Others receive a visa allowing them to visit.

Fatma Bucak

From Ukraine: Dare to Dream
Palazzo Contarini Polignac 
Sestiere Dorsoduro, 874
April 20–August 1, 2024

Fatma Bucak (2024 Italian Fellow) has artwork in From Ukraine: Dare to Dream, a collateral event of the Venice Biennale, organized by Kyiv’s PinchukArtCentre, which opened on April 20 at Palazzo Contarini Polignac and primarily features work by Ukrainian artists. According to its organizers, “We are at a crucial moment where the future is hidden while fundamental changes are on the horizon. The exhibition weaves a tapestry of stories and dreams gathered from all over.” Themes include the history of forced migration, including due to the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian war, ecological disaster, empathy, and the struggle for liberation. The exhibition is curated by Bjorn Geldhof, Ksenia Malykh, Oleksandra Pogrebnyak, and Oksana Chornobrova.

Alexandra Munroe and Nico Muhly

Yu Hong: Another One Bites the Dust
Chiesetta della Misericordia 
Campo de l’Abazia, 3550
April 20–November 24, 2024

Another One Bites the Dust is a solo exhibition of work by the Beijing- and New York–based artist Yu Hong, curated by AAR trustee Alexandra Munroe, senior curator at large for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and presented by its Asian Art Initiative. The full program includes a performance by another trustee, Nico Muhly (2018 Resident), called To the Body, commissioned by Guggenheim Museum’s Works & Process series with support from the American Academy in Rome and the Guggenheim’s Asian Art Circle.

Another One Bites the Dust presents a suite of paintings—with iconography drawn from her image archive and daily scrolling of the internet and social media—that responds to the architectural and cultural context of the deconsecrated tenth-century Byzantine-Romanesque church which houses the show. With her figurative, narrative-based work, artist ponders big, eternal themes such as birth, life, desire, sex, and death.

Jenny Holzer

I’m Not Afraid of Ghosts
Palazzo Tiepolo Passi 
San Polo, 2774
April 17–September 22, 2024

Selections from TCollection by Svetlana Marich, founder of Malevich.io, and Sarah McCrory, inaugural director of Goldsmiths Centre for Contemporary Art, were pulled for I’m Not Afraid of Ghosts. Among the thirty-three artists are Shadi Al-Atallah, Cecily Brown, William Eggleston, Jenny Holzer (2004 Resident), and Sally Mann, among others. Themes include the female body, liberation, and the cyclical historical narratives that connect them.

“This exhibition draws together several narratives and allows us a moment to respect our past yet draw courage to make our own choices and look to the new,” said Tatiana Fileva, an entrepreneur and art collector who founded TCollection. “Women take center stage in this exhibition, and as always occupy multiple roles: mother, caregiver, friend, ally, confidant, and adversary. It is my hope that this exhibition sparks meaningful dialogue and inspires individuals to embrace their own journey of self-discovery and creative expression.”

Press inquiries

Andrew Mitchell

Director of Communications

212-751-7200, ext. 342

a.mitchell [at] aarome.org (a[dot]mitchell[at]aarome[dot]org)

Maddalena Bonicelli

Rome Press Officer

+39 335 6857707

m.bonicelli.ext [at] aarome.org (m[dot]bonicelli[dot]ext[at]aarome[dot]org)