Wreck of boat that sank in Mediterranean arrives in Venice for Biennale 2019

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VENICE, MAY 7 – The wreck of boat which sank in the Mediterranean Sea in 2015 arrived today in Venice to appear in the central exhibition at the Biennale. More than 800 people died in the shipwreck which is now the centerpiece of the installation “Barca Nostra” (Our Boat) by Swiss-Icelandic artist Christoph Büchel.

The wreck will be exhibited in the Arsenale, the former shipyards and armories that provided the Venetian Republic with its formidable naval power for centuries. Areas of the Arsenale have lately been turned into an exhibition space for the Biennale, whose theme this year is “May You Live in Interesting Times”.

A news release for “Barca Nostra” describes the vessel as “a relic of a human tragedy but also a monument to contemporary migration, engaging real and symbolic borders and the (im)possibility of freedom of movement of information and people.” The relic underscores “our mutual responsibility representing the collective policies and politics that create such wrecks,” the statement added.

The boat crammed with migrants capsized on April 18, 2015, after the collision with a Portuguese freighter ship that had been called to its aid. Only 28 people survived. The shipwreck was one of the deadliest in living memory in the Mediterranean Sea. The disaster accounted for nearly a fifth of the estimated 3,665 migrant deaths in the sea that year, as tallied by the International Organization for Migration.

“Barca Nostra” is not the only program of the Biennale related to the refugees crisis. UNHCR is taking part to the event with the initiative “Rothko in Lampedusa”. Büchel made headlines last year when he created an online petition to preserve and have designated as national monuments eight prototypes for President Trump’s proposed border wall between the United States and Mexico. (@OnuItalia)