For my paper, I would like to explore the Venice Biennale as a global platform for the participating nations as they express their national identity. The first Venice exhibition was intended to counter the cultural dissonance of the newly formed Italian state. In 1895, the first Venice Biennale was held that incorporated national pavilions. It soon became the largest international exhibition of contemporary art with the 2011 Biennale being the largest to date. S The Biennale is known for breaking institutional conventions, and although the structure of the Biennale has shifted according to the demands of its time, it remains an important platform for nations as it allows artists to express their cultural identity through the public space of the exhibition.
It is for these reasons that I was drawn to research and explore in depth the 2011 Venice Biennale. It would be completely impossible, especially in a paper such as this, to incorporate all that is the Venice Biennale and its devotion to modernism. Therefore, I have decided to focus on only the national pavilions, specifically the pavilions of the United States, France, Egypt, India, and South Africa. Out of the 89 representing nations these five countries were selected based on either their return from a long term hiatus or how the nation chose to address (or raise) questions about their own cultural identity. ‘By focusing on these five nations I should be able to gain a understanding of how a nation at the Venice Biennale is able to use this high profile exhibition as a means of promoting a national identity.