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More than 85 national pavilions, countless “collateral events,” an estimated 80 venues in total, visitors numbering in the tens of thousands – that’s the Biennale di Venezia

The multi-material sculpture The Cave Painter in the Canadian Pavilion. This year’s much-anticipated Canadian entry, which opened to art-world VIPs and media Wednesday, is Music for Silence, an ambitious, complex, mixed-media installation by polymathic Toronto artist Shary Boyle, 41, and curated by Ottawa’s National Gallery.

Domenico Stinellis/The Associated Press

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New York artist Sarah Sze‘s sprawling installation in the U.S. pavilion is called Triple Point and its assemblage of quotidian materials (water bottles, toothpicks, paper, rocks, a sock, a cactus) meanders through five rooms.

Domenico Stinellis/The Associated Press

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China’s protean Artist Ai Weiwei sleeps under the watch of guards in a scene from one of his dioramas depicting scenes from his 81-day incarceration by Communist authorities. The work, titled S.A.C.R.E.D., is made up of six dioramas, each housed in an iron box at Venice’s Church of Sant’Antonin. Weiwei has three showcases at the Biennale. He’s one of four artists featured in the German pavilion, his contribution being Bang, a rhizomatic mass of 886 three-legged wooden stools handcrafted by Chinese artisans. Straight is a sculptural installation, in a former convent, made of steel reinforcing bars recovered from schools destroyed by the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.

Cristiano Bendinelli/The New York Times

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A man watches videos that are part of Albanian-born, Paris-based artist Anri Sala’s installation in the French Pavilion. Sala presents Ravel Ravel Unravel, a film featuring superimposed performances of composer Maurice Ravel’s Piano Concerto for the Left Hand played by Canada’s Louis Lortie and France’s Jean-Efflam Bavouzet. In two side rooms, another pair of films, collectively called Unravel, shows techno DJ Chloe attempting to synchronize the Bavouzet-Lortie performances with a mixer and turntables.

Domenico Stinellis/The Associated Press

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British artist Jeremy Deller at the U.K. Pavilion: In the background is an image from his strongly political work English Magic. Deller’s Venice installation features three large murals (one is of William Morris destroying a Russian tycoon’s yacht), a film, reliefs, photographs, hangings and a tea room.

Domenico Stinellis/The Associated Press

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