The 58th Venice Biennale is one of the most important shows in the art world. Every two years, people have the chance to look at various artworks spread in different spots throughout Venice. The Biennale opened on May 11th, bringing together pavilions by 90 countries at the Giardini and Arsenal, as well as other places across the city of Venice. This year’s theme is “May You Live In Interesting Times” has taken over the city with its cacophony of installations that play around with senses and space.

From a bridge of hands and a sobering shipwreck to a beach opera, here are our top five works you must see.

Building Bridges by Lorenzo Quinn

Artwork of a bridge made by Hands


Sculptor Lorenzo Quinn made another monumental installation in Venice, with six gigantic human hands joined together to create a bridge of unity. The hands at the old shipyards at the Arsenale, are 65 meters wide and 50 feet tall, making it a stunning addition to the city. His previous Biennale work, Support, spoke about human’s creative and destructive abilities, this year’s hands focus on the positive. WIth this work, Quinn is spreading the message of unity and peace in a city that was built on bridges. It serves as a reminder for political leaders that we need to work together in the battle against climate change.

Barca Nostra shipwreck by Christoph Büchel

The fishing boat at the Arsenale’s docks is part of artist Christoph Büchel’s Barca Nostra project. It is real-life wreck of a boat that sank off the coast of Italy and killed hundreds of migrants on April 18th, 2015. Büchel is known for transforming places and objects with a strong social and political relevance into artworks or monuments that will trigger reflection and discussion, and this year’s work is no exception. The boat will eventually be turned into a permanent memorial to those that died in this horrible accident.

Sun & Sea: (Marina) by Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė, Vaiva grainytė, and Lina lapelytė (Lithuanian Pavilion)

Kids laying down on the sand

Artists Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė, Vaiva Grainytė and Lina Lapelytė have transformed a building near the Arsenale into a sandy beach for their installation. Their opera about climate change received the prestigious Golden Lion Prize that shows sunbathers breaking into songs about everyday life and political crisis. Every Saturday, from 10 am to 6 pm, and people can see a surreal beach with towels and beach chairs, bright-colored swimsuit-clad performers and seaside paraphernalia such as colouring books, lunch boxes, and sudoku, from a viewing platform located above the beach.

Chromo Sapiens by Shoplifter (Icelandic Pavilion)

Abstract Paiting

Icelandic artist Shoplifter has turned a warehouse in Giudecca into a multi-sensory environment from which people will exit transformed. The cavern is filled with a cacophonous amount of her signature material – synthetic hair. In this work, the nature of her homeland is confronted with the artificial nature and consumption of the pop culture, which creates a new expressive language. The installation consists of emanating volcanic earthy hues, shimmering whites and pale soothing pastels, the sound of the Icelandic metal band HAM, and many other sensor-triggering things.

Cosmo-Eggs by Motoyuki Shitamich, Taro Yasuno, Toshiaki Ishikura, and Fuminori Nousaku (Japan Pavilion)

Abstract Artwork of a Cosmic Egg

This year, the Japanese pavilion was made into a giant musical instrument with recorders suspended from its ceiling, all controlled by an algorithm. There is also a giant inflatable orange bench that pushes powers recorders when somebody sits on it. Around this are four black-and-white films that show huge boulders washed onto land by tsunamis, with mythological stories engraved onto the walls. The collaboration of different Japanese artists – an artist, a composer, an anthropologist, and an architect, explores the man’s relationship with nature, through the guise of architecture, music, visual art and anthropology.