Venice Biennale Collection

The Venice Biennale is the longest-running and most high-profile international exhibition of contemporary art in the world. Each Venice Biennale comprises a lavish extravaganza of exhibitions that draw over 600,000 visitors during the Biennale’s six-month (May – November) run.

Each year the chosen artistic director organizes a thematic exhibition in the Giardini’s Central Pavilion (the theme for 2019 was May You Live in Interesting Times).  The Giardini also houses 29 permanent national pavilions, run by their respective ministries of culture, who choose artists to represent their home countries.  As the Biennale has grown, other temporary collateral exhibits, which are often collaborative and multinational and which are given special distinction even though they are not part of the official Biennale exhibition, open in rented spaces across the city.   

In 2007, the Clark library began to build on its comprehensive collection of Biennale-related literature by collecting a rich variety of publications and ephemera that were not being archived anywhere else, electronic as well as physical objects, many of them artist-designed.  The physical collection is housed in the library’s Special Collections and these materials can be searched in the online catalog and viewed upon request. 

Venice Biennale material that has been digitized or is available in electronic format falls into three distinct collections.
  • Many items from the physical collection have been photographed and can be seen in the Venice Biennale Ephemera collection.
  • The Venice Biennale on the Web collection contains archived captures of websites, blogs, and social media posts, beginning with the 2013 Biennale.  
  • The E-Biennale Preservation Archive project is an ongoing collection of born-digital materials created to accompany Biennale exhibitions and events.  



The Clark’s Venice Biennale Ephemera collection represents the wide variety of publications and ephemera that are distributed during the week when curators, artists, collectors, publishers, dealers, and the press are invited to preview the various exhibitions and pavilions.  Those invited attend various events and parties at which catalogs, press kits, and endlessly inventive artist-designed “swag” are given away:  tote bags, posters, postcards, brochures, pop-up books, buttons, flash drives in various shapes, candles, perfumes, wallpaper, and many other limited-edition items.  Starting in 2007, the Clark library has worked closely with Thomas Heneage, London art-book dealer, who attends many of the preview events at the Biennale and collects materials to be added to the Clark’s unique collection. 

The map below was created by Emily Jacir when her proposed project for the 2009 Biennale, to print the names of all the vaporetto stops along a key route through Venice in both Arabic and Italian, was shut down with no explanation.  The map delineates the stops, a guide to a work of art that never existed.

Emily Jacir. Map. 2009

Hüseyin Alptekin's work deals with issues of displacement by bringing attention to "unimportant" facts and actions that often go unnoticed. This sketch for a work in which the artist brought five Finnish log-barns to Venice and rebuilt them in a shape that was ”the result of a revisitation of a mental-setting the artist experienced in Tblisi, Georgia. This comes out of a particular type of public dining where restaurants are strictly divided into separate cabins clustered around an open courtyard.”  

[Detail] Don't complain : Hüseyin Alptekin = non lamentarti : Hüseyin Alptekin / curator/ commissar Vasif Kortun. -- [S.l. : s.n., 2007]

For the 2009 Biennale, artists Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset created for the Nordic and Danish Pavilions The Collectors, two fictional worlds located in adjacent buildings: one an upscale family home that was "for sale" (complete with performers acting as real-estate agents) and the other a bachelor pad where young men lounged, sipping drinks.  Many artists and designers contributed editioned artworks such as the placemat below.

Artist object: Paper place mat. "Scribbles, Dribbles, Nibbles " by Simon Fujiwara.--The Collectors checklist Title appears on place mat as Prototype design for an ideal desk for an erotic novelist.  Produced in conjunction with the exhibition held in Venice, at the Danish and Nordic Pavilions, for the 53rd Venice Biennale, June 7-Nov. 22, 2009

Fernando Prats' Grand Sur project for the Chilean Pavilion consisted of three art pieces, one of which was an installation in neon lettering that reproduced the advertisement that explorer Ernest Shackleton is said to have posted circa 1911, calling for men for his expedition to Antarctica.

Men wanted for hazardous journey : Fernando Prats, Gran sur : bag. --[Valparaiso, Chile] : [Office of Cultural and Scientific Relations],[2011]. -- 1 tote bag : polyester, woven, screenprint, white text on black ; 40 x 33 cm.

Carlos Marreiros' installation explored the operation of information, raising questions about the co-existence of morality and the existence of circumstances in which information can be manipulated and freely published.

Eventi Collaterali. Souvenir fan issued to accompany Carlos Marreiros' exhibition titled, held in Venice, Arsenale, Castello, for the 55th Venice Biennale, June 1-November 24, 2013

Maria Papadimitriou's work Why Look at Animals? sought to underscore human beings' anthropocentric worldview by highlighting the way in which certain animals, such as wolves, coexist with people but cannot be domesticated by them.  This relationship functioned as an allegory of the dispossessed during a time when Greek society faced economic challenges and issues related to immigration and migration.

MARIA PAPADIMITRIOU : AGRIMIKÁ : cowbell. [Athens, Greece] : [Hellenic Ministry of Culture, Education and Religious Affairs], [2015]. -- 1 cowbell : metal and leather ; approximately 4 x 6.5 x 2.5 cm, with cord 49 x 6.5 x 2.5 cm.

In his exhibition The Question of Beings, Yahon Chang explored the conscious and subconscious natures of individuals, questioning the diversity and complexity of living beings in an effort to delve into the similarities and differences between the recesses of human and animal instinct.

Yahon Chang : 張耀煌 : bag. [Taipei, Taiwan] : [Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei (MoCA, Taipei)], [2015]. -- 1 tote bag : cotton, screenprint, black text and image on natural; white text and image on black ; 39.5 x 34 cm, with handles 59.5 x 34 cm.

Doug Fishbone’s Leisure Land Golf was a fully operational mini golf course for which nine artists—John Akomfrah, Yara El-Sherbini, Ellie Harrison, Candice Jacobs, Hetain Patel, Lindsay Seers, Yinka Shonibare, Eyal Weizman, and Fishbone himself—were each commissioned to design a hole. Asked to respond to “The Leisure Principle” (whereby consumer satisfaction is prioritized above anything else), the artists approached the prompt from varied perspectives which, despite the humorous and light-hearted setting, dealt with serious political questions.

Doug Fishbone's Leisure Land Golf : exhibition materials. [Nottingham] : [EM15], [2015]. -- 7 items ; 25 x 15 cm.

The Absence of Paths was designed as "a human performance staged across Venice which, for the duration of the Biennial, represents an idyllic microcosm of the world: a place where human beings may still flow freely from one nation to the next. This is represented in a physical travel document called a Freesa, produced with the help of Veridos, a leader in producing secure identification papers for countries and companies around the world....This installation will empower each and every visitor towards shedding the divisive baggage and classifications imposed upon people. The carefully developed collateral event, at the heart of the pavilion, will form the basis of a silent, individual protest."

The absence of paths : Tunisia National Pavilion, 57th International Art Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia : freesa. [Tunisia] : [République tunisienne Ministère des Affaires Culturelles], [2017].


The Venice Biennale Collection on the Web captures blogs, social media sites, video, and organizational websites that document and publicize artists and pavilions at the Biennale.  Clark librarians first obtain permission from their creators and then use Archive-It and Webrecorder to capture online exhibition catalogs, press kits, audio and video, and other digital ephemera.  Web pages captured by Archive-It are full-text searchable. 

South Africa National Participation at the Venice Biennale 2017. Instagram. "The South African Pavilion #SAVenice2017 #SApavilion #BiennaleArte2017" Exhibition title: Candice Breitz and Mohau Modisakeng. Artists: Candice Breitz and Mohau Modisakeng. Commissioner: Titi Nxumalo, Console Generale. Curators: Lucy MacGarry and Musha Neluheni. Venue: Arsenale. @sa_pavilion.

Thailand National Participation at the Venice Biennale 2017. Instagram. "Thai pavilion 2017 @BangkokInVenice @BiennaleArte2017 @VivaArteViva" Exhibition title: Krung Thep Bangkok. Artist: Somboon Hormtientong. Commissioner: Vimolluck Chuchat, Director - General of Office of Contemporary Art and Culture, Ministry of Culture. Curator: Numthong Sae Tang. Venue: Galleria Bar Paradiso 1260, Castello. @thaipavilion2017.

Lithuania National Participation at the Venice Biennale 2013 Website. Exhibition title: oO. Artists: Gintaras Didžiapetris, Elena Narbutaite, Liudvikas Buklys, Kazys Varnelis, Vytaute Žilinskaite, Morten Norbye Halvorsen, Jason Dodge, Gabriel Lester, Dexter Sinister.

Slovenia National Participation at the Venice Biennale 2013 Website. Exhibition title: For Our Economy and Culture. Exhibitor: Jasmina Cibic. Commissioner: Blaž Peršin. Curator: Tevž Logar. Venue: Galleria A+A, San Marco 3073. Viewed on December 18, 2014.

Germany National Participation at the Venice Biennale 2013 Website. Exhibitors: Ai Weiwei, Romuald Karmakar, Santu Mofokeng, Dayanita Singh. Commissioner: Federal Foreign Office Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (ifa). Curator: Susanne Gaensheimer. Venue: Pavilion at Giardini. Viewed on December 18, 2014.

Commercial break. Associated Event Venice Biennale 2011. Website. Curator: Neville Wakefield. Organized by Garage, Moscow. "Commercial Break is a conspicuous intervention into the historic city of Venice, featuring over one hundred artists, each engaging with the relationship between advertising and culture. Short digital works by globally recognized and emerging artists from around the world will bring the form and language of advertising to Venice. The project is curated by Neville Wakefield and powered by POST magazine"--Website

Kenya National Participation at the Venice Biennale 2015. Petition on titled, “Renounce Kenya's fraudulent representation at the 56th Venice Biennial 2015 & commit to support the realisation of a national pavilion in 2017″.

Finland (Pavilion Alvar Aalto) National Participation at the Venice Biennale 2017. Website. Exhibition title: The Aalto Natives. Exhibitors: Erkka Nissinen and Nathaniel Mellors. Commissioner: Raija Koli, Frame Contemporary Art Finland. Curator: Xander Karskens. Venue: Giardini.

Carol Rama : spazio anche più che tempo. Associated Event Venice Biennale 2017. Website. Exhibition title: Spazio anche più che tempo = Space even more than time. Exhibitors: Carol Rama. Held during the Venice Biennale, May 3-June 24, 2017. Venue: Palazzo Ca' nova.


Gathered from CDs, flash drives, and websites, these digital materials include press kits, photographs, exhibition catalogs, and audio and video clips.  For copyright reasons, access to this collection is restricted to the Clark campus; like the physical collection, visitors are welcome to come to the library to search and view a rich variety of materials.

Light and Darkness of Symbols; Dragoljub Todosijević-Raša; Pavilion of Serbia at the 54th International Art Exhibition-La Biennale Di Venizia June 3 - November 24, 2011 : press kit. Documents and images.

"La Biennale di Venezia. 55. esposizione internazionale d'arte. Partecipazioni nazionali;" Press material produced to accompany the exhibition held in Venice; Spanish Pavillion; Giardini; 1 June-24 November 2013. Image of a work by Lara Almarcegui.

Preservation copy of image and document files in press kit. The press kit was produced in conjunction with the exhibition held in Venice, 54th Venice Biennale, June 4- November 27, 2011 ; "La Biennale di Venezia. 54. Croatian Pavilion ; One needs to live self-confidently...watching; Responsibility for Things Seen

Room with Broken Sentence : Mark Manders : Press Kit. Press material produced to accompany the exhibition held in Venice; The Netherlands Pavilion; Giardini; 1 June- 24 November 2013.

Explore the Collection

Ireland At Venice 2017 on Instagram. "Ireland at Venice Jesse Jones will represent Ireland at the 57th Venice Biennale / La Biennale di Venezia in 2017." Exhibition title: Tremble Tremble (Tremate Tremate). Artist: Jesse Jones Commissioner/Curator: Tessa Giblin, Director Talbot Rice Gallery, University of Edinburgh..
Carol Rama : spazio anche più che tempo. Brochure. Carol Rama : spazio anche più che tempo = space even more than time. Associated event held May 3-June 24, 2017 during the Venice Biennale 2017. Electronic press materials produced to accompany the exhibition.
 Diaspora Pavilion : pin. [London] : [International Curators Forum], [2017]. -- 1 pin : metal, yellow text over black and white photograph ; 3.5 cm in diameter.
Lithuania. R : beer.  [Vilnius, Lithuania], [Contemporary Art Center], [2017]
Loose Work pop-up book.  2011
Tavares Strachan LP
Jeremy Deller Abstract Book Cover 2013
Artist intervention at the Venice Beinnale 2015. #ONVACATION : bag. [Venice, italy] : [#ONVACATION], [2015]. -- 1 tote bag : polyester, [screenprint], yellow and black text on camouflage; 39 x 35 cm, with handles 64 x 35 cm.
Out of controll in Venice / Egill Sæbjörnsson featuring Ūgh, Bõögâr. Iceland : MENGI, [2017]. -- 1 audio disc : analog ; 12 in.
Fiona Hall.  Endings are the New Beginnings 2015
Souvenir coin used in Vadim Zakharov's installation titled Danaë held in Venice, Russian Pavilion at Giardini, for the 55th Venice Biennale, June 1-November 24, 2013 Commissioner: Stella Kasaeva. Curator: Udo Kittelmann Artist: Vadim Zakharov.
Fiona Hall Wrong Way Time : necklace. [Strawberry Hills (NSW)] : [Australia Council for the Arts], [2015]. -- 1 necklace : red polymer clay and black faux leather cord.
Estonian Pavilion : Not Suitable for Work, A Chairman's Tale, Jaanus Samma : Criminal Case No. 6 and exhibition cards. [Tallinn, Estonia] : [Center for Contemporary Arts, Estonia], 2015.
NSK State Pavilion : 57th Venice Biennale : passports. [Ljubljana] : [General Council of NSK], [2017]. (Passports issued in conjunction with the exhibition at the NSK State Pavilion at Ca’ Tron, Iuav University, Santa Croce 1957, Venice.)
Check list Luanda pop : African pavilion : Fundação Sindika Dokolo : press kit. Produced in conjunction with the exhibition "Check list Luanda pop" at the African pavilion in the Artigliere dell'Arsenale, at the 52nd Venice Biennale, June 10-Nov. 21, 2007.
Out of Controll, Ugh & Boogar perfume bottle and box. 2017
Turkey National Participation at the Venice Biennale 2015. Website. Exhibition title:Respiro. Artist: Sarkis. Commissioner: Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts. Curator: Defne Ayas. Venue: Pavilion at Arsenale - Sale d' Armi.
Bahamas National Participation at the Venice Biennale 2013 Website. Exhibitor: Tavares Strachan. Commissioner: Nalini Bethel, Ministry of Tourism. Curators: Robert Hobbs & Jean Crutchfield. Deputy Curator: Stamatina Gregory. Venue: Pavilion at Arsenale.
Sunscreen is part of EM15 presents Doug Fishbone's Leisure Land Golf. Collateral Event Venice Biennale 2015. Website. Image is from Watermelon by Abi Hubbard.
Produced for the performance held May 10th as part of the 57th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, Viva Arte Viva 13 May–26 November 2017 by Antoni Miralda, Joan Rabascall, Dorothée Selz.
Artist object: Badge. "Someone Else with my Finger Prints," each bag holds one of ten different fingerprint badges, by Jonathan Monk.--The Collectors checklist Produced in conjunction with the exhibition held in Venice, at the Danish and Nordic Pavilions, for the 53rd Venice Biennale, June 7-Nov. 22, 2009 La Biennale di Venezia.
Issued to accompany the exhibition held in Venice, Duddell's Pop Up at Palazzo Morosini / Zheng Guogu and Yangjiang Group. The Writings of Today are a Promise for Tomorrow. Exhibition in Venice, Italy during Venice Biennale 2015. Artist: Zheng Guogu, Sun Qingling, and Chen Zaiyan. Venue: Campo Stefano 2803, San Marco, Venice May 7th - June 28th 2015.
BlindWiki Collateral Event Venice Biennale 2017. Instagram. "Antoni Abad Citizens with vision loss employ smartphones to map their findings #UnveilingTheUnseen at #VeniceBiennale2017" Venue: Cantieri Navali, Castello, 40 (Calle Quintavalle).
Zuecca Projects website 2017. Lola Schnable: fluttuazioni held at Palazzo Marin, May 9-May 28, 2017.
Venice Biennale 2013 Collateral Event. Exhibition title: Otherwise Occupied. Artists: Bashir Makhoul and Aissa Deebi. Liceo Artistico Statale di Venezia, Palazzo Ca' Giustinian Recanati.
Venice Biennale 2013 Collateral Event. Exhibition title: Culture‧Mind‧Becoming. Palazzo Mora, Strada Nova 3659 (San Felice). Palazzo Marcello, San Marco 3699 (Rio Terà degli Assassini).
 In the Eye of the Thunderstorm: Effervescent Practices from the Arab World & South Asia. Collateral Event Venice Biennale 2015. Website. Venue: Dorsoduro, 417 (Zattere).
Lee, Hyungkoo, 1969-. -- Hyungkoo Lee: the homo species : announcement. -- [Seoul] : [Arts Council Korea], [2007].
The Fridge Factory and Clear Waters: Abramovic, Marina: Pavilion of Montenegro at the 54th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia, June 3 - November 24, 2011 : press kit. Documents and images.
Yi Zhou : Days of Yi : collateral event (Shanghai) : 54th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia, June 4 - November 7, 2011 : press kit.
This is not a Tawain Pavilion : Bernd Behr, Chia-Wei Hsu, Katerina Šedá, Batežo Mikilu : press kit. Press material produced to accompany the collateral event held in Venice; Palazzodelle Prigioni, San Marco, 30 May- 24 November 2013.
Germany. Fabrik. Press kit. Germany National Participation at the Venice Biennale 2015. Electronic press materials produced to accompany the exhibition. Exhibition title: Fabrik.
Zuecca Projects website 2017. Marina Abramović : the kitchen held at Zuecca Project Space, May 12-November 26, 2017.
Croatia. Studies on Shivering : The Third Degree. Croatia National Participation at the Venice Biennale 2015. Website. Exhibition title: Studies on Shivering: The Third Degree. Artist: Damir Očko.
Seung-Taek Lee. Press kit. Assoicated event held May 8-June 28, 2017 during the Venice Biennale 2017. Electronic press materials produced to accompany the exhibition. Venue: Palazzo Caboto.