The Giardini: The Gardens of Venice are a secret haven that most visitors never get a chance to see unless they are aware of the Biennale. Most people get so caught up in the touristy Venice attractions (canals, St.Marks Square, Murano, etc.) that they never venture to this unique spot. It's the only section of Venice that has trees/parks and it also houses 30 of the national pavilions for the Biennale. It resembles an Olympic Village of sorts with each nations pavilion having a very distinct architectural style. In most cases you can tell which country the pavilion represents just by the outside aesthetic (The American pavilion resembles Jefferson's Monitcello, Russia's pavilion has that very recognizable Russian Renaissance feel, whereas Sweden looks like it came out of an Ikea catalog).
American Artists: There is quite a process that goes into being selected to represent the United States at the Biennale. Museums from around the country create a proposal for their vision of the American exhibit that they present to the US State Department. After a thorough review process, one museum is selected to collaborate with the artist of their choice in representing the American entry. Over the years American artists including Jackson Pollack, Andy Warhol, and Roy Lichtenstein had their work featured.
The 2011 American entry was a very unique one to be a part of for a variety of reasons...
- The museum selected (Indianapolis Museum of Art- IMA) is not from a major art hub such as New York, Chicago or LA, which is generally where the entries have been selected from in the past.
- It is the first time the US decided on an artistic collaborative when it selected the couple Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla.
- Calzadilla, being originally from Cuba, was the first non US born artist selected.
- This years concept includes performance art, which had never been done before in the more than hundred year history of the Biennale.