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Steve McQueen at the Venice Biennale


Posted by Mark Sinclair, 4 June 2009, 17:02    Permalink    Comments (8)

Still from Giardini 2009 © Steve McQueen

Steve McQueen represents Great Britain at the 2009 Venice Biennale with a new film, Giardini. You can see a few excerpts from the work here, in an interview on the British Council site, or click through for some stills, which look rather beautiful in their own right...

Still from Giardini 2009 © Steve McQueen

The idea for situating the film in the Venice Giardini, the gardens that contain the thirty permanent pavilions used during the Biennale, came to McQueen when he was in the city for the 2007 festival.

The British Pavilion is a "beautiful building... monumental", he says in the interview on the British Council site, but also has a "human element... a human character".

Still from Giardini 2009 © Steve McQueen

Of the new film McQueen says: "There is an everydayness about it, it's not exotic or foreign, but specific to the Giardini and to Venice."

Still from Giardini 2009 © Steve McQueen

Still from Giardini 2009 © Steve McQueen

The Guardian's Charlotte Hingins spoke to McQueen about the film in an interesting piece, here.

Steve McQueen: Giardini, Venice Biennale 2009.
Photography by Prudence Cuming
© The British Council
Courtesy Marian Goodman Gallery, New York and Paris; Thomas Dane Gallery, London

More on the British Pavilion at


Steve McQueens work is carefully crafted in to a work of art, every shot is fully considered. After recently watching the film Hunger, I was amazed by the stunning cinematography and his ability to capture moments in a way that is truly beautiful, even when the subject was so harrowing.
2009-06-05 09:08:00

It would be interesting to see him move from gallery films to cinematic films full time.

Hunger is by far the best thing he's ever done.
2009-06-05 12:06:11

I'm sorry, but really: is this biennial worthy? It's a pretty film, I suppose, but it also looks really bland--and not in an interesting way. Furthermore, he's not especially articulate about it--at least not enough to make me want to see it.

Venice 2007 was mess and 90% disappointing--especially the works in the giardini. This isn't exactly enticing me to hustle on over.
2009-06-05 21:01:04

I have just returned from the biennale, I found the video dull. Granted there were some beautiful shots but there was not enough content for half an hour.
2009-06-17 11:40:56

Comment deleted by moderator - if you disagree with Hugh's opinion please say why
2009-06-17 13:07:00

it´s about how we consume art. We want to see beautiful think, which give us an context, even it is just about formal nature,..but actually he is shooting the Biennale at wintertime, where none and no art is there, and he is asking what remain...
2009-10-09 01:37:52

I just witnessed this at Marian Goodman Gallery in New York. It certainly had it's poetic moments and plenty of room for interpretation. I think the viewer completes the piece with his or her's own sensorium. McQueen exposes many realities often missed and plays with the division and circularity of life in clever way.
2010-02-18 02:13:12

I have only recently watched this film. I thought it was superb.
Adam Collins
2014-08-01 10:05:59

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