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Five Exhibits We're Dying to See at the Venice Biennale

Check out our sneak peak from the Venice Bienniale.

There are plenty of reasons to visit Venice, Italy, but this week, the sinking city kicked off the biggest and best art event in the world: The Venice Biennale. With over 150 artists from 37 countries, along with more than 50 auxiliary exhibitions and events, every corner and canal in Venice will be surrounded by art.

We'll also be there to bring you a full report, and we'll be on Twitter and Instagram sharing our favorite images so check back often. In the meantime, here's a preview of five shows we're looking forward to viewing, compiled by Rodrigo Mejia and Aaron Liu.

25% Catalonia at Venice (SPAIN)

Spanish artist Francesc Torres, and filmmaker Mercedes Alvarez (from Catalonia and the Balearic Islands, respectively), present a collaborative project that documents “the reality of unemployment." The project, entitled 25%, (for the percentage of people unemployed in Spain—26.7 percent as of March, 2013) follows eight people from a wide array of professions (an architect, blue color worker, etc.) as they live with Torres, who photographed and documented their lives. To complete the collaboration Torres then relayed their opinions on art's impact in their lives with Mercedes Alvarez.

The Starry Messenger by Bedwyr Williams (WALES)

Image via Moelwyn Thomas

In the early 1600s, Galileo presented his first telescope in Venice. Welsh artist Bedwyr Williams used this as a starting point for his contribution to the Biennale, which is an homage to amateur astronomers (one of his heroes is Phil Sheperdsons, “who built his own telescope using catering-sized baked-bean cans held together with coat hangers”). The piece itself is an observatory, but Williams holds that its focus is on the astronomer, not the astronomy. Williams sees astronomers as being unfairly derided as hobbyists—pointing out that their obsessive passion is responsible for many comet sitings and the like: “It's one of the few hobbies that is important for science: amateur astronomers spot comets, because the professionals are too busy to do the donkey work”.

Visitors will stroll in the dark around the observatory as ambient bird calls are played on speakers, connecting the experience to that of pacing through a suburban backyard or garden—a silly, but entirely honest portrayal of how people approach projects in their lives.

Art Is a Dear Friend (Syrian Arab Republic)

Image via Massimiliano Alioto

As the situation in Syria takes on an ever worsening face, artists selected to represent Syria, in addition to artists from the Mediterranean and beyond have come together with the broad appeal to the “peacemaking philosophy and emotion of contemporary art”.

The Tide and Tariff Initiative: The Maldives Adagio by Paul D. Miller (DJ Spooky) (The Republic of the Maldives)

Participating in the Biennale for the first time, the Maldives Islands will present work by several artists including New York-based Paul D. Miller, known best as DJ Spooky. Miller has gathered and filtered raw ocean current data (such as the GPS coordinates of ocean currents closest to the Maldives) and rendered the readings into art pieces. He explains, “Data will be the main conduit for how human beings interpret the world around them...I wanted to find some ideas that link to the issue of artificial versus natural foundations for how human beings exist in this hyper networked world.” Spooky spent several years exploring remote islands, and said they are “all radically different, all resonant with the idea of global systems.” The Maldives pavilion, is hoping to impart the message of environmental impact—that by 2080, the nation will be consumed by rising sea levels.

Triple Point by Sarah Sze (USA)

Image by Tom Powel Imaging, courtesy the artist/Tanya Bonakdar Gallery/Victoria Miro Gallery

Chosen to represent the U.S., sculptor Sara Sze—known for erecting elaborate, site-specific installations with a basic set of materials—will show Triple Point. The title is in reference to the three states of a substance: gas, liquid, water. Of the exhibition the artist told the New Yorker, “The whole point of my art is that logic breaks down. When you put [the materials] in a list, it feels very literal. The experience can only happen in space.”

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