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Venice Biennale 2003

The Venice Biennale is held every two years and is the world’s largest and most prestigious international showcase for contemporary visual arts.  More than 65 countries participate in the five-month event, with each country hosting an exhibition or pavilion dedicated solely to the work of its best artists.

Palazzo Giustinian-Lolin - Fondazione Levi - Main hall Palazzo Giustinian-Lolin - Fondazione Levi - Mirror Room Palazzo Giustinian-Lolin Fondazione Levi - Blue room

Scottish artists have shown work in Venice since Charles Rennie Mackintosh exhibited in 1899.  Since then artists such as Richard Demarco and, more recently, Christine Borland, Douglas Gordon and Roderick Buchanan have participated in exhibitions.  Perhaps surprisingly, 2003 was the first time that Scotland participated independently in the Biennale.  The project was initiated by the Scottish Arts Council and the British Council, and was driven by a desire to celebrate Scotland’s exceptional and cosmopolitan art community, and the high quality of the art being produced. 

Venice Biennale 2003

In 2003, the Scottish Arts Council and the British Council, supported by the Scottish Executive, formed a successful partnership which mounted a presentation of new work from Scotland entitled Zenomap.  Unusually, Zenomap included some 28 artists working in a variety of media. 

Jim Lambie 'Paradise Garage' 2003 The curators of the 2003 presentation, Kay Pallister and Francis McKee, felt that the range and depth of art being produced in Scotland would be difficult to represent within the confines of a solo presentation, and so opted to have a much more comprehensive exhibition.

The central exhibition was held at the impressive Palazzo Giustinian-Lolin on the Grand Canal and featured specially-commissioned work from three Scottish-based artists with strong international reputations: Claire Barclay, Jim Lambie and Simon Starling Claire barclay, Low Scenic 2003 Claire Barclay, Drop Gag, 2003

Simon Starling, Island for Weeds (prototype) 2003 A further 24 artists exhibited work at a nearby venue, including screenings and web-based work.  Launched by a terrific party, the Scottish presence in Venice rapidly became one of the most talked-about exhibitions in the city.

The five-month exhibition attracted many thousands of visitors and received much critical acclaim.

Venice Biennale 2005

Simon Starling, Island for Weeds (prototype) 2003

Following on the great success of the 2003 exhibition, the Scottish Arts Council and the British Council are to return to Venice in June 2005, joined by the National Galleries of Scotland. 

Read more about the artists representing Scotland at the 2005 Venice Biennale

Jason E Bowman and Rachel Bradley have been appointed curators for Scotland for the 2005 Biennale - read their biographies. Throughout their careers, each has made a continuous commitment to contemporary art from Scotland.  For the Venice partnership, they will work as a collaborative partnership to include exhibitions at the Venice Biennale and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.


Related links
* 2005 Biennale Curator biographies
* Scotland and Venice Biennale website
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