This year’s Venice Biennale pays tribute to the artist Leonora Carrington and imagines humanity with a di?erence, writes Joanna Moorhead
The world divides into two sorts of people: those who know all about the Venice Biennale, who visit it reli- giously whenever it’s on, sometimes more than once, and who immediately plunge into a description of the 2019 Lithuanian pavilion; and those who look at you as if you’d said you were off to Mars when you say you’re going there. If you’re in the first group, skip your way to paragraph three. If you’re in the second group, here’s the story in a nutshell. The Biennale is a huge, two-yearly exhib- ition of contemporary art, held in venues across Venice, lasting six months. As well as work by invited artists, each country has a pavilion, and can appoint the artist it wants to represent it. It was the first expo of its kind, and has spawned many more in cities across the globe in the 127 years since it was launched. Like the rest of the art world since the year dot, it’s been dominated by male artists, usually white. This year, for the first time in its history, the majority of its artists are female, and many are women of colour. And here’s something else about the Venice Biennale: it can feel pretty overwhelming. Having been on a tour of just one part of this year’s (truly wonderful) show, led by the event’s curator Cecilia Alemani, my first thought on getting out was that I needed to go straight back in to spend longer looking at almost all of the exhibits. We were whizzing past works I might like to spend an hour or more with, and we are talking tens upon tens of exhibitors, in that area alone.