Why they take their kids to the Venice Biennale

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Why they take their kids to the Venice Biennale
Scene at the 2024 Venice Biennale in Italy —PHOTOS BY NASTASHA DE VILLA
Why they take their kids to the Venice Biennale
Scene at the 2024 Venice Biennale in Italy —PHOTOS BY NASTASHA DE VILLA

Among the throng of critics, curators and creatives who have been populating the Giardini, the Arsenale and the labyrinthine streets of Venice, Italy, since the days leading up to the opening of Biennale Arte 2024 on April 20, children make up a curious and perhaps unexpected demographic.

Lifestyle asked parents why they bring their kids to experience the Biennale and similar art events, and what these young minds think about the colossal collection of contemporary art.

Why they take their kids to the Venice Biennale
Mark, Yoji and Mayumi Salvatus

That’s an interesting question because, when I was younger, while my parents and grandparents didn’t really encourage it, I was exposed around the house to what they do. My grandfather is a writer, and my parents are also in a way interested in crafts—not really art but more on crafts—in Lucban. So I’ve been around this natural thing in everyday life. And I think when you see the Pahiyas Festival in Lucban growing up, you kind of think of what is installation or what is creativity, what is ingenuity.

We’ve been bringing Yoji since he was a baby everywhere we go. Adding to the fact that we don’t have household help, I think the best education also is to bring kids to another form of education that is outside the school. For Venice Biennale, it’s his first time. But in different exhibitions that I’ve been a part of, he’s always with us. His reaction has been the same as when I was young—I was not aware; it wasn’t familiar. But I think when he grows up, he will remember that his parents dragged him everywhere. —Mark Salvatus (Philippine Pavilion featured artist at the 2024 Venice Biennale) with son Yoji, 9, and wife Mayumi, from the Philippines

Why they take their kids to the Venice Biennale
Jon Finnbogason (right) and Finnbogi

I think it’s great for everyone to be exposed to art, and the earlier you start, the better. It makes them ask questions and you get an honest opinion on things. They’re curious about the objects and you get, like, a child’s perspective on it, too.—Jon Finnbogason with son Finnbogi Jonsson, 8, from Iceland

To kind of show some sort of openness and to see what kind of viewpoints artists from all over the world bring in. Because this is a very international Biennale with artists from all over the world coming and joining, they’re showing aspects from their lives that perhaps you’re not exposed to in the daily life. This is a way to, even without traveling, experience these kind of viewpoints.

So this is why I think it’s very, very important to bring them here. We always bring her, it’s her third one. She loves video art, so she’s the one who really sticks with the video for a very long time. She’s especially very interested in countries she’s never heard of, and she’s really interested in knowing more: where is this country, what are they talking about. She’s asks more and more questions that I think are very important for her. It’s absolutely a different type of education.—Julia Tamasson with daughter Elsa, 5

Why they take their kids to the Venice Biennale
Wiley and Reina

I bring my children to art events because we love art and I think good parents are happy parents, and I think that rubs off on them. My two other children are at home. They go to many art events. They like it. It’s a mix of they find it interesting but also boring. It depends on what it is, like adults—sometimes it’s interesting for them, sometimes it’s not.—Wiley with daughter Reina, 8 months

Why they take their kids to the Venice Biennale
Gilbert, Leon, Katya and Thia Micaleff

For us, it’s very important to have them exposed to everything where possible. And we are involved in the arts, so apart from other things—from theater, music and even films, movies—we also expose them to the visual arts. It’s a bit more difficult but we are well-equipped. But, yes, for us it’s very important. Especially the 4-year-old, he is very into it already because he asks questions, he observes, he can already compare something [he sees here] from something he saw outside, so it will help him hopefully with observing even in his life.—Katya Micaleff with son Leon, 4, daughter Thia, 2, and husband Gilbert, from Malta

Why they take their kids to the Venice Biennale
Stephanie, Timothee and Renaud Bergonzo

I bring him to see all the [pavilions] of every country to see the work of each country. It’s really important for him to learn how to see things, to understand the meanings of the work of every country. It’s really important to be a part of this, and even if he’s young, it’s so important that he won’t forget the message of everything he will see today.

He’s so happy, you know. He’s seeing many, many different artworks and he’s asking questions about the meanings of every parts of house. It’s so important, I think, for him to understand. Sometimes we ask artists questions so we can explain to him a bit using their words. But it’s so important to bring kids to the Biennale.

We’ve brought him everywhere since he was a baby. We’ve brought him to Art Paris, to Art Basel.—Stephanie Bergonzo with son Timothee, 6, and husband Renaud, from France

Why they take their kids to the Venice Biennale
Raffy T. Napay with Miami and Ahon

It’s a historical opportunity to be able to experience this at a young age, to be exposed to such a broad selection of art. As his artist father, I also want to show him our field. He’s happy, he thinks it’s a huge playground. Which is just like art—one huge playground for artists’ ideas.—Raffy T. Napay with son Ahon, 3, and wife Miami, from the Philippines

Because through the arts, we show to our children the world; we explain how it’s beautiful and how it’s wide; and because it’s good for their thinking and imagination. And I think it’s a good opportunity to show these pavilions and introduce to them how nationalities are different and how they are similar to each other.

I don’t know how they’ll react, but we will see after the Biennale. We will ask them what they remember.—Doston with children Yokhyo, 5, and Abullo, 3, and wife Maftuna from Uzbekistan

The sustained participation of the Philippine Pavilion at the Venice Biennale is a collaborative endeavor of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, the Department of Foreign Affairs, and the office of Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda. The Biennale Arte 2024 runs until Nov. 24, and is closed most Mondays. For tickets and more information, visit labiennale.org.

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