The 54th International Art Exhibition, opened to the public from June 4 to November 27, 2011 at the Giardini and at the Arsenale. This edition of biennale covers the International Art Exhibition in the Central Pavilion at Giardini and Arsenale as well as 89 national participations and 37 collateral events around the city.
The exhibition theme entitled “ILLUMInations”, emphasize the importance of light and enlightenment, literally draws attention to the importance of such endeavours in a globalized world. la Biennale di Venezia has always been buoyed by an international spirit, and even more so now in an age in which artists themselves have become multifaceted, discerning and cultural tourists.
The exhibition centres on the themes of light and enlightenment, while simultaneously exploring ideas related to ‘nation’. It incorporates several works by Venetian Old Master Tintoretto (1518-1594), which were unorthodox and experimental for his time, distinguished by dramatic lighting. Also, as part of the curatorial concept for this edition, four artists were asked to create ‘Para-Pavilions’, sculptural structures capable of housing works by other artists.
ILLUMInations emphasizes the intuitive insight and the illumination of thought that is fostered by an encounter with art and its ability to sharpen the tools of perception. The exhibition respecting and even defending value of the idealization of enlightened reason and a specific of European western scholarly practice. ILLUMInations focus on the “light” of the illuminating experience, on the epiphanies that come with intercommunicative, intellectual comprehension. The Age of Enlightenment also resonates in ILLUMInations, testifying to the enduring vibrancy of its legacy.
Questions of identity and heritage have long been crucial to contemporary art and the intensity of artistic inquiry into these issues is unlikely to diminish in the near future. Historically, from the Dark Ages to the Renaissance, the process of “ILLUMInations” in art and culture can be discovered.
The title also suggests a wide range of associations, from Arthur Rimbaud’s wildly poetic “Illuminations” and Walter Benjamin’s “Profane Illuminations” on the surrealist experience to the venerable art of mediaeval illuminated manuscripts and the philosophy of illumination in 12th century Persia. Art is a seedbed for experimentation with new forms of “community” and for studies in differences and affinities that serve as models for the future.
Contemporary art is characterised by collective tendencies and fragmented identities, by temporary alliances and objects in which the transitory is inscribed – even if they are cast in bronze. The expansive drive that has propelled art since the 1960s has turned inwards. Art no longer cultivates the pathos of anti-art. Perception is now focused on the foundations of culture and art in order to illuminate semantic conventions from within. On one hand, the artefact has given way to an emphasis on process, while, on the other, the revival of “classical” genres like sculpture, painting, photography and film is motivated by an interest in dissecting their codes and activating their dormant potential. These concerns go hand-in-hand with another aspect that is of great relevance today: art strongly engages and commits its viewers.
Many of the works presented at the 54th International Art Exhibition have been created especially for the occasion referring directly to the theme of ILLUMInations. In the works by the Venetian painter and architect play a prominent role in establishing artistic, historical and emotional relationship to the local context. The works of classical art painters are rarely displayed in contemporary art exhibitions. Through the theme of “ILLUMInations”, it is easy to find that there are some elements that have inspired contemporary.
These paintings exert a special appeal today with their almost febrile, ecstatic lighting and a near reckless approach to composition that overturns the well-defined, classical order of the Renaissance. Although self-reflection is a defining factor of contemporary art, it rarely moves beyond the territory covered by the history of Modernism.
The incorporation of Venetian painter’s work from the 16th century into la Biennale di Venezia transmits unexpected, stimulating signals and casts light on the conventions of the art trade regarding both old and contemporary art. The analogies of interest in this juxtaposition are not formal in nature but rather reinforce the significance of works of art as visual vehicles of energy.
Art is a highly self-reflexive terrain that cultivates a lucid take on the outside world. The communicative aspect is crucial to the ideas underlying ILLUMInazioni, as demonstrated in art that often declares and seeks closeness to the vibrancy of life. This is more important now than ever before, in an age when our sense of reality is profoundly challenged by virtual and simulated worlds.
Highlights of National Pavilions
Pavilion of Australia: The Golden Thread
“The Golden Thread” by Hany Armanious, invocation of ancient forms and cultures, his embrace of a nearly alchemical transformation of one material into another, and his interest in incorporating the processes of making and displaying works of art into the sculptures themselves, underscore his desire to locate the mysterious within the mundane. By arguing that objects in our everyday life, leaf-blowers, vases, teapots, baskets, irons, window blinds, or even a cardboard Burger King crown, can carry as much visual pleasure, as much potential for beauty, as those things designed or deemed to be in the domain of aesthetics, his work is an acknowledgement that there is more to this world than meets the eye.
The project is a panoramic, and embraces ideas and imagery regardless of place. Armanious’s work is insightful, poignant, and often humorous. Based in the process of casting, Armanious’s sculptures present a double take on objects ranging from ancient history to the everyday. His meticulous casts of found objects—usually redundant or discarded items that feature the wear and tear of their past lives, are deliberately created in non-precious materials, most commonly polyurethane resin. The exhibition redefines the traditional intention of casting, creating multiple identical reproductions of an object, and instead uses the process to create unique objects. Both the original object and the mould are often destroyed, and the scrupulously cast inanimate objects become artifacts of sorts, temporarily diverting focus from the object itself to the process of its making and evolution.
Pavilion of Canada: Steven Shearer: Exhume to Consume
Solo exhibition “Exhume to Consume”, includes a selection of Steven Shearer’s paintings, drawings and sculptures, featuring new and never-before-seen works, which draw from diverse influences such as art history, popular culture and vernacular architecture. Adopting and elaborating upon styles and themes specific to the history of figure painting, including those associated with Symbolism, Expressionism and Fauvism, Shearer draws formal and thematic parallels between art history and forgotten or discarded aspects of society.
Steven Shearer exhumes objects, images and ideas from history but also from his own past, re-infusing these with meaning by inserting them into a contemporary context. His work stems from his ongoing compilation of thousands of images that are culled from sources such as fanzines, online message boards and image shrines on personal websites. These fragmentary sources function generatively as they are combined and recycled across his work. His art elicits the psychic and emotive potential within these images and transforms them to reflect his subjective experience.
Pavilion of China: Pervasion
The exhibition “Pervasion” showcase artworks created by Cai zhisong, Liang yuanwei, Pan gongkai, Yang maoyuan, and Yuan gong. Peng feng presents five single-artist installations redolent of scents associated with the country’s cultural tradition (as opposed to the west’s traditional focus on aesthetics): tea, lotus, liquor, incense and herbal medicine. Cai’s work evokes tea; yuan’s, the smell of incense; yang’s, medicinal herbs; pan’s, the smell of lotus; and liang’s the pungent scent of china’s traditional white spirit — ‘baijiu’. ‘Cloud-tea’ by cai zhisong the white-painted ‘devices’ are made of steel and house wind chimes and tea. when moved by the wind, the clouds emit the scent of tea and the sound of the wind itself. the fragrance comes from longjing tea, which the buddhist monks drink tea to keep a pure and refreshed mood. the installation is designed to induce feelings of being wakefulness and enlightenment.
Though appropriately related, the surrounding fog are incidentally part of another work, ’empty incense’ by yuan gong. using twenty sets of ultrasonic atomizers, the installation’s high-pressure water mist system fills the pavilion with atomized incense fog every two hours, from a square of white pebbles laid on the grass. Yang maoyuan’s ‘all things are visible’ on the ground of the arsenale cistern, visitors find thousands of medicine pots. traditional chinese medical prescriptions are carved on the interior of these pots but on their outside there are no signs. According to the theory of traditional chinese medicine, all things are visible, be it the acupuncture points, meridians or collaterals, however, they do not exist at all to modern science.
Pavilion of Cyprus: Temporal Taxonomy
“Temporal Taxonomy”, proposes a synergy between the ’emotional’ object drawings of Doering and the ‘scientific’ topographies of Christofides. It aims to create a special dynamism through a museography of time and space, the exhibition aims on texploring on the one hand social, political and cultural relations, as well as trends and tensions on a local and global level, and on the other hand it attempts to operate in the manner of the medieval ‘illuminated manuscripts’ that convey new and valuable knowledge.
Cyprus is represented by two artists, Marianna Christofides and Elizabeth Hoak-Doering. Taking the Cypriot experience and historical reality as a starting point, both artists approach issues of historicity, identity and memory in a particular way, tracing and mapping data from a wider cultural history. The work of both artists departs from the Cyprus experience and the field of socio-politics, but it extends and transforms so as to articulate a substantial discourse as part of a much broader, global system. Issues of multiculturalism, crossings, displacement, migration, and hybridization are common ground in their research. Their meeting inside the Cyprus Pavilion seeks to highlight and negotiate existing positions and contradictions surrounding the apparent homogeneity of a globalised environment, while simultaneously it addresses the deeply human need for spiritual and intellectual transgression: one that leads to a redefinition of the spatio-temporal systems of existence, as well as a reformulation of human experience.
Pavilion of Egypt: 30 Days of Running in the Space
Multimedia “30 Days of Running in the Space” by Basiony, recorded the real scenes of Cairo during the Arab Spring. A digital visualization of the artist’s physical activity as he ran in place within a specially installed chamber. His vital signs flashed on the walls as graphs and lines. The piece was reprised at the 2011 Biennale, along with documentary footage that Basiony shot of the Tahrir Square protests as they were happening, from January 25 to 27.
Pavilion of Estonia: A Woman Takes Little Space
“A Woman Takes Little Space” consists of six conceptually connected room installations in an apartment-like, homely environment. In her photo, video and site-specific room installations, the artist explores various topics, ranging from femininity and social space to different representations of women in contemporary society, as well as ‘feminine’ jobs. Along with a focus on space, there is also a strong emphasis on time, the circling of time, and a certain element of ritual repetition and ‘not getting anywhere’.
The photography series captures women of different ages and social status at their places of work. The series is inspired by a claim made in an opinion column on gender equality that appeared in the Estonian media a few years ago stating that women need less space for their everyday work than men. One of the questions that runs through the exhibition touches on the mechanisms that allow such ideas to continue relatively unhindered as a result of an unsaid agreement between all parties. Along with work that focuses on the private sphere and the body, there is also the video Unsocial Hours which explores the model of the cycle of women’s work and social life through food.
Pavilion of France: Chance
A spectacular installation entitled “Chance” by Christian Boltanski, it deals with a theme that is dear to him: luck, bad luck and chance, forces that fascinate us and impose their own laws. A frenetic environment where constantly moving elements evoke the never-ending lottery of life. This ensemble of works by Christian Boltanski is also presented as a philosophical tale in which the viewer is not content with passively recording a story but is involved in a veritable game. He may himself be chosen by fate and, if luck smiles upon him, win one of the works in the exhibit.
“Chance” opens up to a broader examination of fate. The unfolding of life and the rhythm of births and deaths raise the question of the universal and the individual in a new form, of what distinguishes one being from another. Far from being grim, the ambience here is welcoming. Even though the brutality of an industrial and mechanical system serves thwarts the building’s Neoclassical harmony, here filtered light illumines the faces of newborns. Periodically, one of them is chosen, and, if nothing distinguishes him from the others in appearance, he may yet be the one whose power and fame leave their mark on history.
Pavilion of Germany: Christoph Schlingensief
Golden Lion Award for Best National Participation
In the main hall of the German Pavilion the stage of the Fluxus oratorio A Church of Fear vs. the Alien Within, which Schlingensief conceived for the 2008 Ruhrtriennale was presented. In A Church of Fear vs. the Alien Within, Schlingensief uses his own personal experiences to contend openly with the universal and existential themes of life, suffering, and death. The play’s stage, which consists of many film and video projections and a multitude of sculptural, spatial and pictorial elements, offers viewers, more than any other of his stage-sets, an all-encompassing total installation. One of the pavilion’s two side wings feature a movie theater where a program of six selected films from different moments in Schlingensief’s career play on a large screen. All films are digitized from original film stock, and have been partially restored. The theater is accessible at all times during the Biennale’s opening hours and offers an international audience the opportunity to see a significant selection from Schlingensief’s films, including some films that are subtitled for the first time.
The pavilion’s left side wing is dedicated to Schlingensief’s Operndorf Afrika, his opera village in Africa. Located near Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, it includes a school which houses film and music classrooms, a café, a hospital, and a central theater building with a festival hall. The opera village is under the leadership of Aino Laberenz and planned with architect Francis Kéré. Alongside photographs and documentation of the already realized parts of the African project — and in conjunction with selected scenes from Via Intolleranza II, Schlingensief’s last play in which he collaborated with actors from Burkina Faso — this portion of the pavilion feature a large-scale panoramic projection of footage of the natural scenery surrounding the construction site of the opera village, filmed by an African filmmaker Schlingensief himself had commissioned for use in the German Pavilion.
Pavilion of Greece: Beyond Reform
A site specific installation titled “Beyond Reform” by Diohandi, explore space and time. With pavilion’s interior and exterior revised, as an existing space, which stands at a given point in time. The Byzantine-style façade was visible through small cracks in the surface of a new outer shell which cover the original structure, while water, light and sound was dominant elements of the pavilion’s interior. Access to the interior was from an ascending hallway running the length of the Pavilion between a surface of water, leading all the way up to sheer light. Following extensive research into the architecture and history of the Greek Pavilion, Diohandi’s new space see the surrounding environment blend with the interior, proffering new ways in which building fabric, light, sound and water can coexist.
Diohandi understands the theme “ILLUMInations” in its deepest, most basic sense. Starting with what is a very specific, concrete, strictly rational space, both outside and inside: the entire space is remodeled, although none of these interventions actually affect the existing structure. Sound and light also feature, which are indispensable to the work. The installation at the Greek Pavilion in a way reflects, with Diohandi’s specific work, the current political state of Europe and of the world at large. It is at the same time, obviously, a comment on the contemporary Greek experience of economic recession and IMF tutelage: a place of light thrown into darkness and decline, holding on, almost willy-nilly it seems, to hopes of spiritual and sociopolitical reconstruction; in other words, to a vision of light that should bring along clarity of mind, as if the ultimate catharsis.
Pavilion of India: Everyone Agrees: It’s About to Explode
The first India pavilion at the Venice Biennale, entitle “Everyone Agrees: It’s About to Explode”, showcase collection of Zarina Hashmi, a printmaker and sculptor, Gigi Scaria, a painter and video artist, Praneet Soi, a mixed-media artist, and The Desire Machine Collective. This pavilion approach that idea through the tropes of transcultural practice, migration and cross-pollination. Indeed, this pavilion is intended to serve as a laboratory in which we test out certain key propositions concerning the contemporary Indian art scene. Through it, we could view India as a conceptual entity that is not only territorially based, but is also extensive in a global space of the imagination.
Hoskote’s aim, in making his selection of artists, is to represent a set of conceptually rigorous and aesthetically rich artistic practices that are staged in parallel to the art market. Furthermore, these have not already been valorized by the gallery system and the auction-house circuit. The Indian manifestation also focus on artistic positions that emphasize the cross-cultural nature of contemporary artistic production: some of the most significant art that is being created today draws on a diversity of locations, and different economies of image-making and varied cultural histories.
Pavilion of Iraq: Wounded Water
“Wounded Water”, an exciting professionally-curated selection of 6 Iraqi artists from two generations, including various artistic media (painting, performance, video, photography, sculpture/installation). These are extraordinary times for Iraq. The project to create an official country Pavilion for the 54th Biennale di Venezia is a multiple and participatory work in progress since 2004. It is historically coming at a period of great renewal after more than 30 years of war and conflict in that country. The Pavilion of Iraq feature six internationally-known contemporary Iraqi artists who are emblematic in their individual experimental artistic research, a result of both living inside and outside their country.
They represent two generations: one, born in the early 1950’s, has experienced both the political instability and the cultural richness of that period in Iraq. Ali Assaf, Azad Nanakeli and Walid Siti came of age in the 1970’s during the period of the creation of political socialism that marked their background. The second generation, to include Adel Abidin, Ahmed Alsoudani and Halim Al Karim, grew up during the drama of the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988), the invasion of Kuwait, overwhelming UN economic sanctions and subsequent artistic isolation. This generation of artists exited the country before the 2003 invasion, finding refuge in Europe and USA by sheer fortune coupled with the artistic virtue of their work. All six artists thus have identities indubitably forged with contemporary artistic practice that unites the global situation with the Iraqi experience and they represent a sophisticated and experimental approach that is completely international in scope.
Pavilion of Israel: One man’s floor is another man’s feelings
“One man’s floor is another man’s feeling” by Sigalit Landau, binding together the metaphoric and the material in one image, poetic and political, the allusive title generates a concept with ample room for imagination. Working with three essential elements: water, land and salt, Landau’s project relate to the Israeli pavilion itself. The project is site specific, celebrating the water that is there, to issues of interdependence, the communities and societies that live in this region, adjacent to one another, sharing land and culture.
Pavilion of Italy: The Ministry for the Cultural Heritage and Activities
For the traditional venue of the Italian Pavilion, expanded on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Unification of Italy, were selected 200 major personalities of recognized international prestige who have been asked to indicate an artist who has had a significance in the first decade of this millennium, from 2001 to 2011. 200 artists was exhibited, as a result of 200 different ways of understanding art. A kaleidoscopic representation that is not limited to the choices of critics and does not follow the trends of the galleries, but feeds the extraordinary union between art, literature, philosophy. The Arsenal also exposed the Mafia Museum, brought from Salemi in Venice, offering the leit-motif of exposure: “Art is not ours.”
The exhibition Italy: 150 / Biennale: 116. intended to display a collection of particular importance for variety, consistency and artistic quality. The exhibition included the works of Augusto Sezanne, Ettore Tito, Marcello Dudovich, Carlo Scarpa, Albe Steiner, Milton Glaser, Ettore Sottsass, Gianluigi Toccafondo, and Studio Tapiro based in Venice. The exhibition was realized with internal resources of La Biennale, in particular of the ASAC (Historical Archives of Contemporary Arts), within the broader project for the enhancement of its Funds. The exhibition was made possible thanks to the recent rework and inventory work of the entire poster collection with 3,500 pieces, represented by 360 general posters, as well as secondary posters, posters, and announcements.
Pavilion of Japan: Tabaimo: teleco-soup
The installation entitle “teleco-soup” by Tabaimo, created by projecting a multi-channel animation onto mirror panels, this immersive multimedia environment explores the country’s identity as an island state. “Teleco-soup,” connotes the idea of an “inverted” soup, or the inversion of relations between water and sky, fluid and container, self and world. Coined by the artist, this phrase builds upon an intellectual tradition in Japan that grapples with the country’s identity as an island state, or what in recent years has come to be known as the “Galapagos Syndrome,” originally used to describe the incompatibility between Japanese technology and international markets but now applicable to multiple facets of Japanese society in the age of globalization. The structure of the exhibition further references a proverb attributed to the Chinese philosopher Zhuangzi, “A frog in a well cannot conceive of the ocean,” and an addendum to the Japanese version of the same, “But it knows the height of the sky.”
Through the use of a multi-channel animation projection and mirror panels, Tabaimo transform the interior of the Japan Pavilion into a well and the open space beneath the Pavilion, which is raised on pilotis, into the sky. The succession of images lead to a recognition of the unimaginable breadth of the well—or contemporary Japan—and through the installation’s anti-gravitational orientation connect to an infinite depth/height in the eternal world of the sky below, visible through an aperture in the floor at the Pavilion center. In this way extending beyond the confines of the Pavilion, the installation destabilize relations between up and down, interior and exterior, broad and narrow perspectives, and immerse visitors into a bodily experience that asks them to question, Is the world of a frog living in a well really so small? And, How can we negotiate the points of contact between the individual and the communal—how do we negotiate our own Galapagos Syndromes?
Pavilion of Lithuania: Behind the White Curtain
Behind the White Curtain is a work by Darius Mikšys, attempts to bring together and display a symbolic exhibition curated by a modern state and turn it into a real exhibition and national archive. Acting as both a self-constructed and self-organised public mirror, Behind the White Curtain constitutes a collection of artworks by artists who received the State Grant from the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania over the last two decades (1992–2010).
The Lithuanian state selects artists for a symbolic exhibition by allocating prizes and grants to further the practice of Lithuanian artists. It could be seen as a targeted programming of cultural products. In this way, the state acts as a curator, whose exhibition hall does not have walls, and whose exhibition is on show for decades. Is it possible to see such an exhibition? How does one visit it? Behind the White Curtain is an installation and performance, taking place on both sides of the curtain. One side serves as a storage space for the entire collection, while the second operates as a rotating exposition; shaped according to the specific interests of each visitor.
Pavilion of Luxembourg: Le Cercle Fermé
“Le Cercle Fermé” by Martine Feipel & Jean Bechameil, realises that the notion of space is central. The observer is presented with a single idea: the obvious necessity of finding a new type of space. The artwork can be understood on various different levels that touch as much on philosophy as on art history or society. In this project, the management of space is in crisis. In the wake of the philosophy of Jacques Derrida, it is a case of trying to go beyond the limit of a place to find a new one. This comes down to thinking about the meaning of the limit and the meaning of space which is mainly the result of tradition.
The important thing is not to overstep or transgress the law by crossing the limit but to ”open” a space at the very heart of the former space. This opening does not create new space to occupy, but rather a sort of pocket hidden inside the old meaning of the limit. It is about an opening in space according to the principle of slippage. This internal slippage and the recreation of space always implies the destruction of an institution. The situation still seems open, but we lack concepts of action capable of responding to the ecological crisis and the crisis of civilisation. Today, there is no doubt that it is more urgent than ever to consider any reflection on the question of space as a work of civilisation, as a remodelling of civilisation. Modifying the everyday completely remodels our world.
Pavilion of Montenegro: The Fridge Factory and Clear Waters
The exhibition titled “The Fridge Factory and Clear Waters”, joint performance artists exhibited together with Marina Abramović, llija Soskic and Natalija Vujosevic. Obod is an old fridge factory of 140,000 square meters situated in Cetinje, capital of the old kingdom of Montenegro, and built during Tito’s communist regime. Obod was founded to produce refrigerators for all of former Yugoslavia, and it remains today a perfectly preserved example of the ideals of communism, industrialisation, and modernism that were so closely situated next to the centuries old libraries, palaces, monasteries, and mountains that make Montenegro such a compelling geographic location. The space was converted into a laboratory of production, presentation, distribution and development of different forms of art from performance, dance, theatre, opera, to film, and also be fostering architecture, science, and new technologies.
Marina’s work consists in a video featuring an original narrative, and short biography on her Montenegrin roots, and explains her ambitious project to establish two performance centres simultaneously in Montenegro (Europe), and in Hudson, New York. Marina Abramović’s work can also be viewed in “Personal Structures” curated by Karlyn de Jongh and Sarah Gold, held at the stunning Palazzo Bembo close to the Rialto Bridge on the Canal Grande. This group show brings together an interesting combination of 28 artists, from 5 continents. Whether established, or less well known artists, all are united by a common interest: dedication to the concept of time, space and existence.
Pavilion of New Zealand: On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer
“On first looking into Chapman’s Homer” by Michael Parekowhai, pays tribute to the poem of the same title by the nineteenth-century English Romantic poet John Keats, and references notions of discovery, exploration, and the cultural interplay between the Old and New Worlds. The artist understand Chapman’s Homer’s work in a way combine with performance art, much of the real meaning of the work come through music, which fills space like no object can.Michael Parekowhai create a sense of drama and surprise for the audiences.
Pavilion of Norway: The State of Things
Reflecting upon the principles of the Nansen Passport today, and upon the possibility that the image of a nation may in fact be defined by its internationalism, the Office for Contemporary Art Norway (OCA) is organising ‘The State of Things’, a series of public lectures that is part of Norway’s representation for the 54th edition of the Venice Biennale. The public lectures, given by internationally respected intellectuals, reflect upon themes such as diversity, Europe, the environment, peace-making, human rights, capital, sustainability, migration, asylum, aesthetics and war. Each of the papers tackle the ‘state of things’ today, drawing from the speakers’ fields of activity and research, and from what they consider the intellectual and political priorities of today.
Pavilion of Russia: Empty Zones
“Empty Zones”, an attempt to view CA’s actions retrospectively as life in art. Focus on the paradox of scale, the exhibition show art as the production of oneself rather than of objects (paintings, sculptures, installations). Empty Zones is the concept of life as a unique kind of artwork. And this life in art was demonstrated through using the metaphors created for the Russian Pavilion space.
It was the first example in Russia of the kind of art that takes the viewer out of his usual passive condition and offers him an active role in creating an artistic event.” The aesthetic spatiotemporal events that make up CA’s ‘actions’ have been developed both in huge rural spaces (fields, forests, rivers and so on) and in the texts that introduce the actions, accompany them, and comment on the events of an action. However, some actions have also been held in the city and in closed spaces when the process of developing a contemporary aesthetic language has called for it. CA has performed 125 actions and compiled 10 volumes (work on the 11PthP is in progress) of the Trips out of Town books.
Pavilion of Saudi Arabia: The Black Arch
“The Black Arch” by Mona Khazindar and Robin Start, is very much about a meeting point of the two artists; of two visions of the world; from darkness to light, and of two cities, Makkah and Venice. The work is a stage, set to project the artists’ collective memory of Black, the monumental absence of color – and physical representation of Black, referring to their past. The narrative is fueled by the inspirational tales told by their aunts and grandmothers, and is anchored in Makkah, where the sisters grew up in the 1970s.
The experience with the physical presence of Black, the first part of the installation, is striking for the artists, inspired by the black silhouettes of Saudi women. As a counter point, the second part of the installation is a mirror image, reflecting the present. These are the aesthetic parameters of the work. The Black Arch is also about a journey, about transition; inspired by Marco Polo and fellow 13th century traveler Ibn Battuta, both examples of how to bridge cultures through travel. The artists focus on the similarities between the two cosmopolitan cities and their inspirational powers. The double vision of two women, two sisters, two artists unfolds in a world of ritual and tradition which, however, confronts the day-to-day reality of human behavior with simplicity.
Pavilion of Slovenia: Heaters for Hot Feelings
Mirko Bratuša’s sculpture installation Heaters for Hot Feelings is composed of eight tactile, anthropo- and biomorphic pieces each of which about 2 m high. Hidden electrical fittings heat, humidify and cool the fired clay sculptures. The heat generated by the cooling of the first sculptures was used to heat the others. A network of connections is set up as a system of artificial bodies, which indicate their mutual dependence. The metaphorics of an artistic system constructed in this manner are universally applicable to modern society, in which everything happens in mutual relation: amassing wealth on one side of the planet leads to poverty on the other, exploiting nature causes natural disasters, social unrest changes political systems.
Mirko Bratuša’s sculptures are captured in various states of emotion. They are fantastically expressive, designed with sculptural extravagance and refined humour. Hinting at eccentric phenomena from the western Catholic tradition, they reveal to us the exotic in the commonplace. Thus in order to achieve a higher level of empathy they are made from the decidedly expressive and no longer mass-marketed material of fired clay. They are tactile, warm and cold. They show us the psychotic aspect of our everyday lives, reflect our fears and speak of our sense of being lost in modern culture, where it seems that we can no longer affect politics and social power relations and that it is no longer possible to halt the processes of destruction of nature. Therefore, Bratuša suggests, we have to return to elementary perceptions, to the realm of lost sensibility.
Pavilion of Turkey: Plan B
“Plan B” by Ayşe Erkmen, draws on the ineluctable and complex relationship Venice has with water. Erkmen’s project transforms a room inside the Arsenale into a complex water purification unit where machines perform as sculptures, enveloping the audience inside of the filtration process that eventually provides clean, drinkable water back to the canal. Each component of the filtration unit has been separated out, disseminating the machinery throughout the room then reconnecting the elements with extended pipes. Erkmen choreographs the elegant industrial forms to draw attention to the process of transformation, at the end of which the purified water is returned to the canal: a futile, yet courageous gesture against the overwhelming scale of the canal and the ocean.
Formally, Erkmen’s practice often comments on minimalism’s relationship between industrial forms and the body. Here the installation generates a visceral experience for viewers who are embodied within the mechanism of transformation. “Plan B” abstractly conveys systems and processes that we are part of daily: blood circulating through the body, Capital flowing through borders, the mechanisms of authority, the supply of natural resources while proffering a poetic reference to the potentiality of change. Simultaneously the work is a subtly humorous critique of the euphoria for unsustainable short-lived solutions and changes within the complex systems and structures that surround us.
Pavilion of United Kingdom: I, imposter
“I, imposter” by Mike Nelson, an immersive installation for the british pavilion. The new adaptation blends layers of time and space by reimagining the history of a 17th-century roadside inn. Designed to support mercantile trade routes across asia, north africa, and south-eastern europe, the space was palatial during its prime. The latest spatial reinterpretation therefore collapses time by integrating the 17th-century architecture with artifacts of the recent present, such as plastic furniture and an outdated television. Displacing the installation from istanbul to venice also distorts perception of geography, but unites the two cities’ shared histories as former trade hubs.
Pavilion of United States Of America: Gloria
Entitle”Gloria”, the American pavilion rearranged, there’s a lot of dust in the air outside, and with all of the cardboard and debris lying around it like a war zone. A 60-ton British tank turned upside down, called Track and Field, they’ve fixed an exercise treadmill on top of the tank’s right track. With performances of American gymnasts was held inside the pavilion. A replica of the symbolic statue of Freedom stood alongside Algorithm, a pipe rigged together with a working ATM, where the organ only plays music during a transaction.
Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla representing the U.S. with five installations. The artiest understand the event that’s often called the Olympics of the art world. Like athletes, they prepare rigorously and eventually compete for the gold. Gloria, as in Olympic glory, or the glory of art, or the glory of war. But an overturned tank can easily be interpreted as a symbol of America’s faded glory. Visitor can see the relationship between militarism, think about the war. The sculpture also relate to gravity, weight, assemblage, performance, sound. So it has all these sort of multiple registers that make it exceed one single, useful, practical, functional end.