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BNG’s biennial booked for Venice road trip

The Bermuda National Gallery's 2014 biennial is hitting the road next year.

More specifically, a portion of it will be travelling the canals of Venice, Italy — in a gondola of course.

The BNG's 2014 Bermuda Biennial will show at the world famous La Biennale di Venezia art exhibition.

La Biennale has been a European tradition since 1895, and was attended by 500,000 people last year.

“The exposure will be just enormous for Bermuda, and some of our artists,” said BNG executive director Lisa Howie. “In 2010, we made a pledge to evolve the Bermuda Biennial into an organisation that gains greater exposure and appreciation beyond our Island's shores. For the last several years we have been networking with international organisations and international jurors.”

To ensure that happened, the BNG joined the International Biennial Association and registered with the Biennale Foundation associated with the Venice exhibition.

“Now we are in the final stages of the discussion with the Foundation,” Ms Howie said.

“We have our budget and we have our place. We just need to select the artwork.”

Only a few select pieces from this year's Biennial will be able to go to Venice.

BNG curator Sophie Cressell said: “It is not just about the artwork, but also about the space it is being positioned in and the relationship and correlation between one piece and another. Creating a selection is an important way to go.”

Ms Howie went to Venice to see that country's biennial last September.

“I wanted to see for myself what it felt like,” she said. “I looked at what publications were produced during the exhibition. I asked, ‘How will our Bermuda Biennial fit into that dialogue?' It is without question the most recognised exhibition around the world.”

The Bermuda artwork will be housed behind a church — the Santa Maria Della Pieta on the Riva degli Schiavoni — and right around the corner from the Bahamas exhibit. This was a deliberate choice.

“This was because of our relationship with the Bahamas,” said Ms Howie. “Amanda Coulson, director of the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas, was one of the jurors for the 2014 Bermuda Biennial. Our friendship with her has really developed over the last two years. We thought it would be a formidable opportunity for her to be in one space and us in another and we share a courtyard. Of course, ours and theirs will be very different shows and spaces.”

The BNG's space will be rented from an Italian orphanage and all rental fees will go to help the orphanage.

The BNG is still looking for sponsorship to help with costs such as transporting the artwork, insurance, and hiring someone in Venice to represent the exhibit for visitors.

“We would like to hear from anyone who wants to support us, financially,” she said.

“It is a great way to have your brand or company name get some exposure. We have had endorsement from Bacardi, sponsors of the Bermuda Biennial, and the Ministry of Community and Cultural Affairs.”

The Bermuda Biennial comes down in November. Staff will spend the following two months packing a container to send to Italy. The exhibition in Venice will open May 9 and run until November 22.

For more information visit www.labiennale.org/en/Home.html or bermudanationalgallery.com.

Gondolas line the bank of the Po River near Venice's grand canal

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Published July 25, 2014 at 9:00 am (Updated July 24, 2014 at 10:52 pm)

BNG’s biennial booked for Venice road trip

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