How to Visit the Venice Art Biennial Even if You Can’t Travel There

The Venice Art Biennial is the Olympics of contemporary art and draws half a million people to Venice, Italy every two years. Unlike the Olympics, however, you aren’t likely to catch highlights from La Biennale di Venezia on your nightly newscast. But now, thanks to mobile phones and the enthusiasm of visitors, people far and wide can experience the Biennial’s exhibitions and national pavilions vicariously through social media.


With a quick search on Twitter or Instagram, you can scroll through thousands of photos and videos of the Canada Pavilion, which is under restoration. Vancouver-based artist Geoffrey Farmer has incorporated the building’s unfinished state into his installation.


The result, titled A Way Out of the Mirror, has been lauded by as one of the best installations presented in this year’s national pavilion area. As the building was about to be restored, Farmer used the opportunity to integrate the removed windows, walls, and roof and exposed bricks and beams into what critics call a groundbreaking installation.



And it is truly groundbreaking — water now shoots up through purpose-built fountains in the pavilion’s floor, one of which actually serves as a drinking fountain.


In stark contrast to Germany and Britain’s neighbouring pavilions, the deconstructed Canada Pavilion could almost be mistaken for a courtyard or sculpture garden. Described as “open, inviting, and completely immersive,” on social media, the installation has been a refreshing surprise to frequent Biennale-goers and newcomers alike, especially in the intense summer heat.


Though A Way Out of the Mirror is unlike any of Farmer’s previous installations, those who have seen Leaves of Grass or his recent retrospective at the Vancouver Art Gallery may recognize his style of sculptural collage in which disparate elements — paper cut-outs, textiles, theatrical props — become a colossus of minutiae. Called “uncanny and evocative,” A Way Out of the Mirror has given rise to a torrent of observations, memories and associations, from those of the artist to those sharing their experience online.


A Way Out of the Mirror at the Canada Pavilion at the 57th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia, continues until November 26, 2017. Read more about the installation in the NGC Magazine.

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