Switzerland is being represented by Christine Streuli, Yves Netzhammer, Ugo Rondinone and Urs Fischer at the 52nd Venice Biennale, which opened on Sunday.
This year's Biennale, the world's oldest and most prestigious contemporary art fair, is entitled "Think with the Senses – Feel with the Mind" and is being directed by Robert Storr, the festival's first curator from the United States.
The Federal Culture Office has organised the presentation of works by Christine Streuli and Yves Netzhammer in the Swiss Pavilion in the Giardini and works by Urs Fischer and Ugo Rondinone in the Church of San Stae, located on the Canale Grande.
Rondinone, born in 1963, is the eldest of the Swiss artists.
Christine Streuli is building a pictorial panorama in the Swiss Pavilion consisting of wall paintings, acrylic, spray and oil paintings in abstract forms and stylised figures.
Also in the Pavilion is Yves Netzhammer's work, "The subjectivisation of repetition", which unites the interior and exterior spaces. The work is a choreography of painted surfaces and digital images, sparsely accompanied by tones created by the sound artist Bernd Schurer.
Urs Fischer and Ugo Rondinone present their work in the high baroque Church of San Stae in a "White Cube", which according to the Federal Culture Office is "the very paradigm of a modern exhibition hall as well as the secular successor to church interiors".
The cube provides the space for the large pictures by Fischer and the sculptures by Rondinone.
Besides the main international exhibition, set up in the Arsenale Corderie and Artiglierie and in the Padiglione Italia at the Giardini, this year's Biennale also includes a record 76 national pavilions featuring art chosen and presented by the participating nations.
Each edition of the nearly six-month Biennale is unique, reflecting the choices of the curator of the main international exhibition.
This year the job has fallen to US curator and critic Robert Storr, currently the dean of the Yale School of Art and former painting and sculpture curator at The Museum of Modern Art in New York. He is among only a handful of non-Italians to be given the honour.
Storr's exhibition brings together about 100 artists in what many observers who have seen the show in previews described as a more unified museum approach to the Biennale, known for its sometimes chaotic attempt to showcase fresh art, often by young, emerging artists.
Highlighting this contrast was the announcement on Sunday that the Golden Lion had been awarded to Malick Sidibé, a 71-year-old Malian photographer noted for his black-and-white studies of popular culture in Bamako in the 1960s.
It is the first time the event's top prize has been awarded to an African artist.
In its 120-year history, the Biennale has advanced art discourse by presenting to the public such notables as Gustav Klimt, Pablo Picasso and the Pop Art movement.
The Biennale begins what promises to be the European art season of the decade as four premier events line up in an unusual convergence that is generating extraordinary buzz.
The Biennale is followed in quick succession by Art Basel in Switzerland, Documenta in Kassel, Germany, and the Münster Sculpture Project.
Rarely do the major art fair cycles coincide: Art Basel is held every year, Venice every two years, Documenta every five years and Münster every decade.
Recent editions of the Biennale have drawn several hundred thousand people to the lagoon venues over five months – still just a fraction of Documenta's expected attendance, a consequence of Venice's expense and difficult geography.
swissinfo with agencies
In 1895 the first Biennale for contemporary art took place in Venice.
An unexpected public success, it attracted 220,000 visitors.
Since then the art world has continued to meet at the Biennale in Venice to showcase contemporary international art.
The 52nd Venice Biennale, entitled Think with the Senses – Feel with the Mind, opens on June 10 and runs until November 21, 2007.
The international exhibition, curated by the US artist and critic Robert Storr, is set up in the Arsenale and in the Italian Pavilion at the Giardini, and presents about 100 artists from all over the world.
76 national participations and 34 collateral events also feature in the exhibition programme.
In addition to contemporary art, the Biennale hosts festivals for contemporary dance (June 14-30), theatre (July 18-29), cinema (August 29-September 8) and music (October 4-13).
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