TateShots Introduction to the Venice Biennale of art 2007 Jane Burton The 52nd Venice Biennale kicks off this month, by far the biggest arts jamboree on the circuit. Curators, collectors, dealers, artists, press, descended on Venice for what has been called the equivalent of an arts Olympics. The traditional centre of the Biennale is here in the Giardini Public Gardens, where various nations have their pavilions. These tend to reflect stereotypes of national identify. Britain is up on a hill with classical columns, the USA is basically the White House, the Greeks have a Banzantine church and the Nordic Pavilion is all cool modernism. Sam Taylor-Wood When you have the pavilions dedicated to one artist, it is a good show so you are seeing fantastic international art in a really great setting and against Venice, how much better can it get, except for I would say don’t come during opening week. It’s on I think until October or November so get away from the mad crowds. Louisa Buck It’s a bit like the Cannes Film Festival for arts, it’s a vast exhibition. It’s organised really in three chunks. You’ve got the Giardini, the public gardens, where you have the national pavilions, thirty or so national pavilions and each country has an artist or several artists representing them. Then you’ve got a big independent exhibition which an independent curator puts together every two years and this one is called Think With the Senses, Feel with the Mind and it’s curated by Robert Storr who is a very highly esteemed curator and academic at Yale. They always had these loose titles because actually its usually a huge kind of bringing together of all kinds of artists who the curator just kind of thinks is worth looking at at the moment and Robert Storr in this case has gone right to the generations from old to young. And then the third kind of tranche of the Biennale which I think to my mind is one of the most interesting is what they rather unfortunately called Collateral Events which is events throughout Venice. All kinds of countries have separate manifestations throughout Venice and a whole load of exhibitions taking place in parts of Venice that you often very rarely see. Tim Marlow Venice is a great thing because it has this unique blend of national pavilions where forty of the world’s most significant nations from the last 100 years have permanent pavilions in the Giardini and choose the artists that they think are the most interesting. So you get these very odd mixtures and then the newer cultural forces try to colonise different buildings around the city so art becomes like a rash of national projection and identity around Venice. Dr David Dibosa The Venice Biennale is kind of like a World Cup of art, it’s a place where people all over the world are trying to show their best in relation to art production. Andrew Graham-Dixon It’s like a grown up version of an Easter egg hunt. Where are the Easter eggs? Because there is a vast amount of art but most of it is bad and finding the good art, that’s your Easter egg hunt. Louisa Buck Very tiring. It’s in Venice which is a fantastic city but it’s a very idiosyncratic city for getting around, so you know you need comfortable shoes, a sense of humour and lots of water basically.