2017 Venice Biennale

Behold: The Oldest Artwork in the Venice Biennale

It’s safe to assume that the artwork picture here (please excuse the reflection lines) is the oldest artwork in the Venice Biennale. It’s a Neolithic mother goddess figure, presumed to be a fertility goddess, and it dates to around 5,000 BC.

This object, which was returned to Iraq from the Netherlands in 2010, is on display in the Iraq Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, along with a number of other ancient artifacts on loan from the Iraq Museum of Baghdad, which reopened two years ago after being closed for 12 years. 

Shown alongside works by contemporary Iraqi artists, the artifacts–which have been put on show as an overt response to the looting and destruction perpetrated by the Islamic state in the region–provide something that is lacking in many of the other displays in Venice at the moment: a deep sense of history.

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