Spending a month in Venice, invigilating at the British pavilion during the 57th Art Biennale, I was as fortunate as to get the opportunity to personally explore the critical potential of the biennale as an exhibition format, as well as expand my personal curatorial practise through the study of past (archival material at the Archivio Storico delle Arti Contemporanee) and current formats. This research is situated under the umbrella of an expanding landscape around curatorial practise explored through the lens of the biennale format, which “tends to merge art and life in a new way” (Mørland and Amundsen, 2009, p. 1). In particular, this year’s theme, Viva Arte Viva, turned the curatorial lens back on the artist and underpinned the importance of art and the artist’s voice in mediating contemporary society (Abrams, 2016). Christine Macel’s curatorial frame invited the audience into the artist’s studio, a focus that is reflected in the choice of the below presented case study, Green Light – An Artistic Workshop by Studio Olafur Eliasson. With a personal interest in researching the notion of the exhibition as an experimental space for alternative modes of thinking and knowledge production, I spend my time in Venice scouting through the biennale pavilions and collateral events, whereas this research paper provided me with the chance situate my thoughts and findings in the context of wider curatorial debates.
In this paper, I address three questions pertinent to context of the 2017 Venice Biennale:How might performance construct speculative experiences within the context of the Venice Biennale? How can such live forms of knowledge production be understood and conceptualised? What potential does an exhibition have in moving its audience to a state of transformative experience; a state where the audience inhabits a problem as opposed to passively examining it from the outside?