Open call for project to be exhibited at the Swiss Pavilion, Venice Art Biennale 2026

Venice Biennale
© Samuele Cherubini

61st International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia 2026

The Venice Art Biennale is one of the most important exhibitions of contemporary art in the world. It offers artists an opportunity to present their work to a global audience. 

At the Giardini della Biennale, Switzerland owns and maintains a national pavilion. Exhibitions at the Swiss Pavilion have been the responsibility of the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia since 2012. As exhibition commissioner, it defines the selection procedure, determines the jury members and nominates the persons/teams that will realise a project at the Swiss Pavilion.

For the Art Biennale 2026, Pro Helvetia is, for the first time, conducting the selection of the Swiss contribution via an open call.

Eligible are artistic or curatorial projects that address contemporary artistic, social and/or political issues in an independent manner. Applicants are free in their choice of artistic means and formats, which can also be transdisciplinary. A clear connection to Switzerland and its contemporary arts scene is required.


What?

  • Pro Helvetia is seeking Switzerland’s contribution for the 61st International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia 2026 via an open call for projects.
  • Admissible are all formats used in contemporary arts practice (solo or group exhibitions, theme-based exhibitions, performative or installation projects, mixed formats, etc.).
  • Applicants are to submit a project that will be newly developed and specifically designed for the Swiss Pavilion.

Who is eligible?

  • The call is aimed at artists and curators with a connection to Switzerland (see Selection criteria).
  • Individuals, teams and collectives are all entitled to apply.

Selection criteria

  • The project promises outstanding quality in its addressing of relevant subject matter.
  • The participants have a clear connection to Switzerland. This means either permanent residency in Switzerland, a Swiss passport or work activities centred in Switzerland, and regular artistic presence at relevant events in Switzerland.
  • In the case of collectives, the majority of the participants must have a clear connection to Switzerland (see above).
  • In the case of collectives, all main participants must actively take part in the first application stage (see procedure and decision-making processes).
  • The content-related and organisational capacities and competences for the realisation of the project are available.

Exclusions

  • Individuals, teams and collectives that already made an artistic or a curatorial contribution to the Swiss Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in the past are not eligible.
  • The person(s) curating the exhibition may not be identical with the proposed artist(s).
  • The curator(s) may not have any profit-oriented business relations with the proposed artist(s), in particular in connection with a commercial gallery.
  • Retrospectives are not eligible.
  • Projects whose connection with Switzerland is manifested only in the topic addressed are not eligible.

Financial contribution

  • Pro Helvetia provides a budget amounting to CHF 250,000 for the realisation of the project.
  • Should more financial means be required, the nominated team is itself responsible for raising the required funds.
  • Participation in the first application stage is not remunerated. A lump sum of CHF 1,500, plus expenses if applicable, is paid for work on a shortlisted project. This also covers the presentation of the project (see Additional information).

Application content

Applicants are to digitally submit a concept/dossier of four A4 pages at most in PDF format. The following elements must be included:

  • Description and sketch-like visualisation of the project proposed for the Swiss Pavilion.
  • Explanation of the artistic and curatorial approach.
  • If the application is submitted by the curator(s), a list of all participating artists must be included besides the curatorial concept. 
  • Description of the collaboration between artist(s) and curator(s).
  • Reasons why the proposed project is relevant and suitable for the Swiss Pavilion at the 61st International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia 2026.
  • Brief CVs (incl. websites) of all the persons involved in the project.
  • Budget (including plan for fundraising if additional financial means are required).

Floor plans, photos of the pavilion and FAQ are available for your application.
Download here (.zip)

Procedure and decision-making processes

  1. First stage: application with a concept/dossier (see application content)
    The written submissions must reach Pro Helvetia by 30 September 2024. General questions regarding the call for applications should be addressed to biennials@prohelvetia.ch no later than 28 July 2024. They will be answered by 12 August 2024 at the latest. All applications submitted on time will initially be assessed by Pro Helvetia regarding their validity in accordance with the selection criteria specified above. Subsequently a selection jury will establish a shortlist for the second stage.
  2. Second stage: shortlist and presentation of the project to the jury
    The shortlisted project teams will be invited to present their projects at Pro Helvetia’s head office in Zurich in February 2025. The presentation is expected to be based on the first concept/dossier. Various means of visualisation are possible. The majority of the team involved must be present at the presentation. Team members who are geographically far away can join via video call.
  3. Jury recommendation to the Pro Helvetia Directorate
    The jury responsible concludes the process by selecting a project that it recommends to the Directorate for nomination.
  4. Nomination of the project team for the Swiss contribution to the 61st International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia 2026
    The Directorate makes the final decision regarding the nomination. Pro Helvetia subsequently informs the public about the nominated contribution to the Art Biennale 2026 in March 2025.

Timeline and deadlines

The exact dates of the 61st International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia 2026 have not yet been published. As a rule, the exhibition runs for seven months, from spring to autumn (approx. April to November 2026).

Open call for applications1 July 2024
Deadline for first stage applications30 September 2024
Information to applicants / invitations for presentationDecember 2024
Presentations to a jury by participants of the second stageFebruary 2025
Information to teams participating in the second stageMarch 2025
Public communication of nomination by Pro HelvetiaMarch 2025

        

Additional information

  • Information on the composition of the jury will be provided later.
  • No list of applications received or of the shortlist of persons and projects selected for the second stage will be published.
  • There is no remuneration for participation in the first application stage.
  • Applicants will be informed via email whether they have been selected for the second stage (shortlist).
  • Applicants who reach the second stage (shortlist) will be informed on the assessment of their project by the jury via phone and email.
  • Teams who make the shortlist and are invited to present their project will receive a lump-sum remuneration of CHF 1,500, plus a refund of their travel expenses for the presentation in Zurich subject to prior arrangement with Pro Helvetia.   

Application

The written submissions must reach Pro Helvetia by 30 September 2024.

Downloads
Floor plans, photos of the pavilion and FAQ (.zip)

Further information on the Swiss contributions