The 56th International Art Exhibition, entitled All the World’s Futures, is open to the public from May 9 to November 22, 2015 at the Giardini della Biennale and at the Arsenale. Celebrating the 120th anniversary, the Exhibition forms a unitary itinerary that starts at the Central Pavilion (Giardini) and continues at the Arsenale. The Biennale builds on its own history, and moves forward year after year, which is formed of many memories but, in particular, a long succession of different perspectives from which to observe the phenomenon of contemporary artistic creation.
Curated by Okwui Enwezor and organized by la Biennale di Venezia chaired by Paolo Baratta, art Participations was exhibiting in the historical Pavilions at the Giardini, at the Arsenale and in the city of Venice. With over 136 artists from 53 countries. Of works on display, 159 are expressly realized for this year edition. The countries participating for the first time in the Exhibition are Grenada, Mauritius, Mongolia, Republic of Mozambique and Republic of Seychelles. Other countries are participating this year after years of absence: Ecuador, the Philippines, and Guatemala.
44 Collateral Events, approved by the curator of the International Exhibition and promoted by non profit national and international institutions, present their exhibitions and initiatives in various locations within the city of Venice.
All the World’s Futures
The Biennale observes the relationship between art and the development of the human, social, and political world, as external forces and phenomena loom large over it. All the World’s Futures investigate how the tensions of the outside world act on the sensitivities and the vital and expressive energies of artists, on their desires and their inner song. The world before us today exhibits deep divisions and wounds, pronounced inequalities and uncertainties as to the future. Despite the great progress made in knowledge and technology, we are currently negotiating an “age of anxiety’.
The main question posed by the exhibition is the following: how can artists, through images, objects, words, movements, actions, texts and sounds, gather audiences in the act of listening, reacting, getting involved and speaking, at the aim to make sense of the upheavals of this era? More briefly: how does art react to the current state of affairs?
This biennial therefore starts from the urgency of taking stock of the “state of affairs”. Recognizing the current complexity, an all-inclusive theme and proposes an exhibition that brings together a multiplicity of contents, both from a temporal point of view – with works from the past and present, many of which have been commissioned for this occasion – and language. The heart of this vision is the space of the Arena, in the Central Pavilion, which was the scene of readings, performances, concerts and theatrical pieces, which offer synchronic and diachronic visions of contemporary society.
Everything is exhibited against the backdrop of the Biennale’s 120-year history. Fragments of the past of various kinds may be found in every corner, given also the fact that the Biennale is active in Art, Architecture, Dance, Theatre, Music, and Cinema. It is the multi-faceted, complex reality that helps the exhibition avoid perils such as these. The great mountain of the fragments of our history grows year by year. Opposite stands the even greater mountain of all that was not shown in past Biennales.
Albania Pavilion: Albanian Trilogy: A Series of Devious Stratagems
Tirana-based Armando Lulaj’s “Albanian Trilogy: A Series of Devious Stratagems” send you backward in order to look forward. Lulaj—who is no stranger to the Venice Biennale, having previously exhibited in the 2007 edition—uses his diverse background as a playwright, author, and video director to examine regions in conflict and territories in danger. In his view, the collective memory and cultural traditions of Albania are at risk of being lost. A reflection on Albanian social history, a single narrative corpus articulated over three distinct moments: Albanian Trilogy is a sort of time capsule of the past, with strange memorabilia and trophies which presents, contemporaneously, fiction and documentary material. Combining evocation and documentation, the project concentrates on a historic-political phase that was extremely important for the building of an identity that was not just Albanian but international.
For the Biennale, Lulaj’s visual expressions of the Cold War period in his home country tap the pulse of a troubled past and rework an embedded narrative to bring Albanian history into the present moment. The three-part series begins with It Wears as It Grows (2011), followed by the popular NEVER (2012), and ends with Recapitulation (2015), created specifically for the Biennale. On display are three videos and archival materials, as well as an enormous whale’s skeleton, which is both protagonist and silent witness, an incarnation of the giant-Leviathan, the Hobbesian principle of sovereignty. For Armando Lulaj Albanian Trilogy represents the conclusion of many years of research into the period of the Cold War in Albania and, in particular, on the relative themes of collective memory and historic experience, brought together in a film trilogy in which three mythical fetishes symbolize sea, air and land.
Andorra Pavilion: Inner Landscapes. Confrontations
In the face of the tyranny of a gigantic numerical memory imposed by the vertical soft power of the big internet firms, or where amnesia is totally impossible because all data are stored, the privacy perimeter of a billion individuals has disappeared. The installation of painter Joan Xandri, some twenty pictures presented as the long prow of a ship, placed upright on the ground and in disorder, often back to font, also concealing parts of adjacent works, invites us to reflect on and comprehend the limits that we must all now assume to protect our privacy, or even our souls. By doing this, he also leads us to an unusual space where the observer is drawn by his or her imagination into a second visualisation, where the flow takes its inspiration from a work which deliberately blurs the traditional codes of painting.
The work of sculptor Agustí Roqué should be viewed like a fine landscape, tending to the horizontal, with no real focal point or centre of symmetry, the basis of post-modern still-lives, intended to make its spectators receptive to an encounter with the unknown through a confrontation with themselves, and a space with which they can play mental games. Agustí Roqué moves with ease in a postmodernism in which he has erected a work with total autonomy, which while fully identifying with the diverse potentialities of a precise system of production, manages to preserve its freedom. Three works grouped under the evocative label Inside-Inside, which clarifies, if clarification were needed, the marvellous work on space to which he has long dedicated the whole of his creative energy, giving the sculpture the additional object of a space-time event.
Angola Pavilion: On Ways of Travelling
“On Ways of Travelling”. Coinciding of 40 years of independence since Portuguese in 1975, this collective exhibition engages on a journey across national history to open up viable ways for the years ahead. Hosted in the Palazzo Pisani built across the 15th and 17th century, an age during which huge maritime powers were extending their overseas empires, the age when Portugal settled in Angola for half a millennium. As implied by “On Ways of Travelling’ repercussions of the occupation are still vivid in contemporary Angola especially in dealing with issues such as how to reconcile tradition with modernity. The recent civil conflicts further scattered the fragile construction of an Angolan self. But in the aftermath of a traumatic past winds of hope are blowing. The selection of works gathers emerging artists around Antonio Ole, this generational dialogue offers a refreshing viewpoint of the social and cultural developments of a new Angola.
There is a strong push for the younger generation to take over efforts to shape a brighter future. A symbol of the Angolan resistance, the machete is the support for a remarkable pictorial representation; Délio Jasse showcases a study, in photographic form, of memory, its sedimentation and the reason for forgetting; Nelo Teixeira follows with a work in which wood forms the basic structure and where the incorporation of the object trouvé accentuates parallel narratives; and finally Binelde Hyrcan, a very eclectic artist in his aesthetic choices, presents video and installation of his most recent research. Ole’s central piece is made of two metal sheets walls, a material used in slumps at the outskirts of African urban centers. Human resistance and survival is a theme central to his oeuvre. Soil, empty glass bottles and pieces of torn fabric imported from Angola are stacked in incorporated vitrines, suggesting the presence of such makeshift buildings inhabitants. Nearby, two monumental sculptures made of piled up plastic buckets challenge laws of gravity.
Argentina Pavilion: The Uprising of Form
The exhibition entitled “The rebellion of form”, recalling the award-winning artists in different biennials -Julio Le Park, Antonio Berni and León Ferrari. The show reflect on the human condition, where the body / bodies are a privileged territory of experience, figures that escape or that they press themselves into tensions and falls by modifying their relationship with space and matter. All the other pieces, of the 23 exhibited, are in color and with that special and enveloping resin that seems to encapsulate his works. Death has a clock and on top, engravings, notices of item 59, those that offer sexual services: it is the marvel of Greek art transplanted into a 21st century transvestite. At the entrance to the Pavilion, the sculptures at the same distance from the human eye because they lack pedestals, which generates a very strong dialogue with the people. Juan Carlos Distéfano’s works to transcend the local level. to rise up in the panorama of universal art, which ignores physical and temporal boundaries.
‘Mischievous Emma’ is a tribute to Spilimbergo from the series of a prostitute that bears that name, a great but terrible sculpture, it is about the figure of a transvestite who has a slipper to death that is sucking her blank neck and black, and underneath there is a floor that is also a checkerboard in those two colors. ‘Los enluminados’, which strongly alludes to violence, where the different levels of power are looking to one side, with their hands joined on their knees, in a posture of prayer and their heads thrown back, showing the absolute indifference of a whole sector of power in relation to what was happening during the military dictatorship. Distéfamo’s sculpture shows a worker who sees a kite tangled and mounts to a lamp post, using a pliers to cut the cable. He wants the kite to fly again at the risk of being electrocuted in a metaphor of the man who immolates himself for the good of others.
Winner of Golden Lion Award
Armenian Pavilion commemorate 100 years since the genocide of more than one million Armenians by Ottoman Turks during the First World War. The Exhibition rethink the notion of “Armenianess’, and broaden this reflection to the concepts of identity and memory, justice and reconciliation, in the name of which many contemporary struggles are still taking place. On display is a collection of work by artists connected to the diaspora from various countries in Europe, the Americas, and the Middle East. The installation itself takes place in the Armenian Mekhitarist Monastery, on a small island southeast of Venice that’s accessible by vaporetto. Many important works of European literature and religious texts were first translated into Armenian on this scenic island. Over its three-hundred years history the Monastery of San Lazzaro with its gardens, former print shop, cloisters, museum and library, has helped to preserve Armenia’s unique cultural heritage
“Armenity”, a complex and irregularly constructed self-identity of the displaced diaspora of genocide survivors and their ancestors. Exemplary contributions to the pavilion include those by Nina Katchadourian and Aram Jibilian. In Accent Elimination (2005), Katchadourian probes the psychology behind elective assimilation by purchasing the services of accent coaches (who advertise heavily in diasporic communities) and then training her parents to speak “natural” English. Jibilian, a photographer and social worker in New York, presents a series of works from 2008–15 investigating the multivalent legacy of famed Armenian painter Arshile Gorky: in meticulously arranged images, Jibilian and his family inhabit symbolically rich spaces while wearing masks painted to look like Gorky, exposing the self-effacement and disguise required of genocide survivors and questioning the legacy of past tragedies on the artwork of future generations.
Australia Pavilion: Fiona Hall: Wrong Way Time
“Wrong Way Time,” focuses on the “madness, badness, and sadness” of three major fields: global disputes, finance, and the environment. “Wrong Way Time” entered a dark space where illuminated objects emerged from the shadows, painted clocks ticked and cuckooed out of time; charred cabinets were filled with collections of banknotes, newspapers and atlases; intricate hammered tin sculptures crept out of sardine cans; and sculpted bird’s nests were made of shredded banknotes. The exhibition bringing together thousands of elements in an exploration of the themes of “madness, badness and sadness”. Fiona Hall explains her exhibition as “a personal attempt to reconcile a state of gloom and chaos with a curiosity and affection for the place where we all live”.
The new Australian Pavilion reopened at the 56th International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale. This new elegant building represents an ambitious chapter for Australian art internationally, respecting the importance of Venice’s heritage and showcasing the best of Australian art and architecture for future generations on the international stage. Collateral exhibition, Country, presented the work of 30 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists from a number of outback areas across Australia. The exhibition was the result of Italian artist Giorgia Severi’s one-and-a-half-year stay in Australia with stop overs in art spaces throughout the continent. Country dealt with the “melting pot of different cultures throughout Australian communities”, examining the links between memory and tradition.
Austria Pavilion: Heimo Zobernig
Zobernig explored these themes through painting, video, and installation. In addition to showing freestanding works, Zobernig has altered the pavilion itself, in a gesture toward the particular challenge of creating art in an inherently nationalistic and competitive space. The starting point for Heimo Zobernig’s deliberations: how can one adequately contribute to an environment based on nation-state representativity where individual voices constantly compete for maximum attention? What phenomena are meaningful in such a context? And for precisely such purposes the Austrian Pavilion, with its classical as well as its modern formal language, offers an ideal exhibition space.
The Austrian Pavilion designed by Josef Hoffmann and Robert Kramreiter and built in 1934, with its classical rounded arches and majestic visual axes, on the one hand, and its clear rational forms and modern materials, on the other, the structure shifts between historicity and modernism. Zobernig removes the building’s historicizing architectural elements from sight by means of a black monolith that seems to hover under the ceiling casting its shade on the entire floor space of the pavilion, and a black floor construction that eliminates the pavilion’s different levels. Zobernig’s complex intervention relativizes the bounds between architectural space and nature, inside and outside. His architectural intervention, whose isometric plans recall Mies van der Rohe’s Nationalgalerie in Berlin, together with the garden and rear wall of the courtyard, constitutes an enclosed site where one can linger and reflect on art’s modes of presentation and on human presence in space.
Azerbaijan Pavilion: Beyond the Line
Vita Vitale and Beyond the Line, brings together international contemporary artists whose work expresses concerns about our planet’s destiny. The exhibition for the first time showcases the original art of the Azerbaijani avant-garde of the last century to a wide audience of art professionals. The isolation of officially not accepted artists in Azerbaijan at the time of the Soviet Union was total. The artists had to dig deep within themselves for inspiration but also found it in the centuries old Azeri tradition for arts and crafts and making carpets. Tofik Javadov, Javad Mirjavadov, Ashraf Murad, Rasim Babayev and Fazil Najafov are all masters of unique talents, each of whom cultivated his own distinctive art practice. They are bound together by imagery that expresses their deep cultural influences, a symbolic visual language, and the use of Middle Eastern national and folk styles of remarkable sophistication.
The two exhibitions reveal a country contemplating its past and its future, as well as the impact of 20th-century social and industrial transformations upon its own soil, and that of the world. Beyond the Line revisits a crucial moment within Azerbaijan’s history, and returns their voices to the nation’s mid-century artists, who were silenced or ignored under Soviet rule. With Vita Vitale, Azerbaijan looks forward, and beyond its geographic borders, providing a platform for international artists and scientists who grapple with the ecological challenges we face globally today and tomorrow as a result of our technological advances, and the consequent rise in consumerism. Both exhibitions showcase the gravity of the artist’s voice on the social and environmental issues that define not only the past, present, and future of Azerbaijan, but of the planet.
Belarus Pavilion: War Witness Archive
War Witness Archive is an artistic inventory of memory about world wars. The project focuses on a person- a witness of war, conflict, pain of another human being, suffering, fear of the future. “The communication space” is created with the help of the photographic archives of the turning points of the 20th century, the First and Second World Wars. The project has started as the research of photographic archive related to the World War I history and is now developing in contrast to the World War II photographic archive. The Archive forms its body collecting testimonies about past events stored in the memory of contemporaries. The exposition at the Contemporary Arts Museum in 2014 has become the first embodiment of WWA. The project continues its lifecycle where a traditional photographic archive gets a new state, a state of metaarchive.
“Personne et les autres” featured solo or duo exhibitions of Belgian artists. It challenges the notion of national representation by moving away from the traditional format of a solo show and opening up to include multiple positions and viewpoints. The exhibition explores the consequences of political, historical, cultural and artistic interactions between Europe and Africa during the time of colonial modernity, and in its aftermath. It probes unknown or overlooked micro-histories, brings into view alternative versions of modernity that emerged as a result of colonial encounters, and recounts stories that unfolded outside of and in reaction to accepted colonial hierarchies. The project aims to provide insight into the diverse forms—whether artistic, cultural, or intellectual, that were produced during this time.
In “Personne et les autres,” Belgian artist Vincent Meessen, and a group of international artists he selected as his collaborators, looks to Belgium’s fraught colonial past and the future it has shaped. The exhibition, named for a lost theater script by André Frankin, a Belgian art critic and early member of the Situationist International (a radical group of artists and philosophers who were said to have influenced the Congolese revolution) suggests the need for a new understanding of the effects of colonialism on art and labor. It questions the Eurocentric idea of modernity by examining a shared avant-garde heritage, marked by artistic and intellectual cross-pollination between Europe and Africa, which generated pluralist so-called “counter-modernities”.
Brazil Pavilion: So much that it doesn’t fit here
“So much that it doesn’t fit here,” recontextualizes the country’s activism of the 1960s and ’70s into the fragmented social reality of contemporary Brazil. In the 1970s, Antonio Manuel’s interventions interspersed surreal headlines and doctored images with authentic articles curated for their sensationalism. Manuel represents a generation of Brazilian artists driven by authoritarianism to engage with themes of violence, instability, and the body. André Komatsu and Berna Reale both make work that harkens back to Manuel’s chosen motifs. Komatsu makes readymade sculptures from the detritus of late capitalism: broken bricks and cinder blocks; spilled paint and abandoned walls; power tools frozen in the act of demolition. Unlike the city-dwelling Manuel and Komatsu, Reale comes from the more remote northern state of Pará, where she maintains an alternate career as a criminal expert. Her professional experience informs her performances and installations, which use disruptive presentation of the body to address the issues of criminality, violence, and social heterogeneity endemic to contemporary Brazilian society.
Canada Pavilion: Canadassimo
The huge immersive installation titled Canadassimo, offers a strange path through the Canada Pavilion, which has been completely transformed. Beneath the scaffolding that partially obscures the building’s façade—creating the impression that the exhibition is still under construction—is the entrance to a dépanneur, one of the small neighbourhood convenience stores found across Quebec that sell tinned goods and other household essentials. Beyond this typically chaotic and shabby shop is a loft-like living space: though far more organized, this area is evidently the preserve of a recycling enthusiast. Next comes what BGL has dubbed “the studio,’ a place crowded with countless objects of all kinds, including stacks of tin cans covered with dribbles of paint. Having made their way through this bizarre living/working domain, spectators can relax for a while on a terrace that offers a marvellous view over the Giardini.
BGL, a Canadian collective known for immersive installation and public intervention. Often described as provocative and critical, BGL’s practice employs humour and extravagance to explore the world of objects, while simultaneously raising social and political issues related to nature, contemporary lifestyles, economics and the art system. As well as sculptures and performances, the collective’s works include huge installations that plunge spectators into unexpected situations, prompting them to question their own behaviour and to revise their view of reality. BGL has been fascinated by a marginal aesthetic and marginal people who are living outside of the mainstream,the bricoleur, the collectionneur. Not only recycling, but reusing and transforming the everyday object into something else. In a consumer society, recycling becomes a way to question society.
“Poéticas de la Disidencia” (Poetics of Dissent) assembles work by two Chilean artists, photographer Paz Errázuriz and performance and video artist Lotty Rosenfeld. Inspired by Chile’s recent political history, the three women represent a generation of Chilean activists that developed during the politically tumultuous 1970s, a decade which saw General Augusto Pinochet overthrow Salvador Allende’s democratic government in a bloody coup d’etat and impose his own nearly 20-year-long military dictatorship. “Poéticas de la Disidencia,” however, focuses on present-day Chile, exploring its transition from a dictatorship back into a democratic government.
Photographer Paz Errázuriz navigated 1980s Santiago to capture lives at the margins of Pinochet’s strict society. Her epic photo essay La manzana de Adán presented portraits and biographies of underground transvestite, male prostitutes, a community facing existential pressure from official disregard and state violence. The pavilion’s curator, Nelly Richard, is a prominent cultural critic of the same generation; the shared focus of these three thinkers indicates Chile’s commitment to tackling the problems posed by its recent history. The exhibition indicates a continued interest in questions raised by authoritarian rule: those of power, wealth, gender, and freedom.
China Pavilion: Other Future
“Civil Future” expressed an understanding, the “Other Future”, everything is among the people and points to the future. The order of the world should not be determined by a few.As time goes by, the behavior of the masses creates order, direction and the future in a seemingly unconscious movement. The developments of digital technology and media technology are increasingly facilitating this process. The impact every individual can make on the future of the world is becoming more and more apparent. If some roads are to appear on a virgin land, they are less likely the result of the designing of city planners and construction of workers; on the contrary, they are more likely formed in the long process of spontaneous treading by the masses in a seemingly disorderly way. The masses are not just passers-by who head on in a blind way. They are wise, active and spontaneous.
Xu Bing, Qiu Zhijie, Ji Dachun and Cao Fei are currently presenting their work in different venues at this Biennale. Xu Bing is one of the leading Chinese contemporary artists from the avant-garde movement of the late 1980’s. Xu created two impressive giant and magnificent sculptures, the “Phoenix Project 2015” from the debris of construction sites across China. Qiu Zhijie belongs to a younger generation dealing with video and photography as a new medium. His project is titled “The Historical Circular” and talks about how history is circulated from time to time. The display seems to be very crowded, quite hard to comprehend but aesthetically balanced. Ji Dachun showcases the multifaceted relationship between East and West faces of China in his eight paintings, while Cao Fei, who is the youngest artist at this exhibition, presents her video work “La Town”. Cao is internationally known for her multimedia artworks as an attempt to raise her social and political questions on China.
Croatia Pavilion: Studies on Shivering: The Third Degree
The Pavilion of Croatia expands the poetics of Damir Očko’s last two films, TK (2014) and The Third Degree (2015). Both films question the social constraints imposed on the body as a physical and social being, while inquiring the underlying norms inherent to our societies. In The Third Degree, one can see a close-up footage of skin scars resulting from third degree burns, surrounded by microtonal sound of a crystal-clear note. Filmed through an installation of broken mirrors that also reflect the crew filming, the texture of the skin becomes almost an abstract element. By including the context of the film set, The Third Degree reveals what is usually hidden from sight and thus integrates the viewer into the artistic development.
In this Untitled room is presented an ensemble of 16 drawings made by one of the main protagonists of the film TK, an old man suffering from Parkinson’s disease. Each of these drawings reads the beginning of a sentence from a poem written by Damir Očko starting with the words “In Tranquility…” Analyzing and staging the outline of codependence between the artist, the audience and the exhibition, Damir Očko involves the viewers so they could become aware of their role within the artistic process. For if the context informs, it also transforms by making semantic shifts and by showing internal structures of artmaking in order to create a new kind of rhetoric, a mechanism that reinforces our position as both witnesses and actors of today’s complex world.
Cuba Pavilion: El artista entre la individualidad y el contexto
The Cuba Pavilion highlight the imaginary and reflexive range of the artist, precariously balanced between the distinctive poles of individuality and the context in which they happen to be working. The pavilion underlines the artists’ ability to give life to a dialogue and narrative structure that, beginning with the individual’s eidetic and identifying baggage, leads to an experience that opens out towards the world and the living as well as the social and cultural context, the political field, and normalized spheres. The exhibition underlines the artist’s ability to imagine and reflect among the different individuality and contexts in which he/she lives and works. El artista entre la individualidad y el contexto leads us to reflect not only on microsystems and the Cuban context, but also on global space, the digital network, global economic processes, and the anthropological and ontological area of interest in geographical areas.
Four Cuban artists Luis Gómez Armenteros, Susana Pilar Delahante Matienzo, Grethell Rasúa, and Celia-Yunior along with four international ones Lida Abdul, Olga Chernysheva, Lin Yilin, and Giuseppe Stampone, symbolically represents a middle space, an endlessly vulnerable area where we are encouraged to undertake a journey. This journey lies in the substantial change of our perceptive systems, in the contamination of creative processes with the urban fabric, design, and technological renewal—all of which are only distant systems of reality in Cuba. This project presents a selection of the artistic practices of a generation that, on the one hand, absorbs the force of its own archives, its intrinsic revolutionary ideological traces, intimacy, and subjectivity as an infinite source of input, and, on the other, traverses social reality and straddles ethic and aesthetic transformation.
Cyprus Pavilion: Two Days After Forever
“Two Days After Forever” takes as its starting point the invention of archaeology and its instrumental role in forging the master narrative of history. To reflect on what it means to choreograph a history, navigate its multiple poles and exist in a present so weighted by the burden of contested ideologies. The 1960s and ’70s were a major transitional period for the Republic of Cyprus. Christodoulos Panayiotou investigates and appropriates archival materials from this time in his country’s history, focusing on the official and accidental constructions of national identity—especially through the lens of cultural ceremony and spectacle.
Utilising a diversity of strategies, Panayiotou questions how tradition is formed and authorship and authenticity governed. Through an act of meticulous staging, the artist critiques modernity’s hyperbolic and aspirational fabric and its inconsistent notion of progress. Ancient tesserae, borrowed from the Archaeological Museum in Nicosia are recomposed as ephemeral artworks, before being returned to their home in Cyprus where they revert to their former status as anonymous ruins at the end of the exhibition. Two Days After Forever adopts a multiplicity of modes, it is an exhibition that sleeps, awakens and embodies different temporalities. As such, it manifests as an anthropology of movement in the pavilion and beyond, engaging with different publics around the Mediterranean. Central to this choreography is Panayiotou’s variation on La Bayadère’s Death of Nikiya, which puts archaeology and the ultimate balletic position of Arabesque in direct conversation through an ongoing performance that merges biography with historical imaginaries.
Czech and Slovak Pavilion: Apotheosis
“Apotheosis” based on the Czech Secessionist artist Alphonse Mucha’s monumental painting Apotheosis of the Slavs: Slavs for Humanity. David approaches Mucha’s painting from the position of a contemporary artist gesture of appropriation and reinterpretation of Mucha’s work, represented by a black and white reworking of the original image, simultaneously constitutes an act of deconstruction enhanced by his subtle intervention in the individual parts of the composition in the form of apocrypha. The point of the installation with intertextual crossovers is the active spectator, with a whole range of interesting mental, emotional and visual experiences via participation in an empty space and a cramped one with the key focal point of a corridor, which presents the spectator with the challenge of submerging into the “archaeology of knowledge and memories”. The viewer/participant encounters the reinterpreted Apotheosis, reflected in a mirror wall of identical dimensions, and becomes an ephemeral part of it.
The mirror is an important metaphor in the context of this work, because it offers the spectator the possibility of self-reflection and introspection. The installation based on meditation as well as playfulness motivates the recipients to consider geopolitical and socio-cultural issues in a timeline of more than a century and asks them questions relating to the re-evaluation of concepts such as home, country, nation, state, the history of the Czechs and the Slavic ethnic group. In this way, Apotheosis also becomes a time-specific installation that is a stimulus to critical thinking about a number of serious political, economic, socio-cultural, philosophical and sociological issues that reference the past and the present of the world in the broader relationships in which local and global issues intersect.
Ecuador Pavilion: Gold Water: Apocalyptic Black Mirrors
“Gold Water: Apocalyptic Black Mirrors”, a true manifesto in favor of life and art. Maria Veronica create a multimedia landscape with her new video audio polyptych installations, incorporating drawings, video, photography, objects, and sound as interrelated visual techniques, that display, as she says, in a “techno-theater” where water element, as a life fountain proclaims a new state of mind. Her videos are oncerned with creating new experiences through the relationship between the viewer’s shock versus unusual projections, and with the way the message is mysteriously inscribed after the experience with the unexpected, creating realities that transform the nature of the object to place it in an unfamiliar context providing it a new identity. The artist deplores the excesses, exaggeration, intoxication and drifts of industry, which penetrates to the very heart of nature and alters “water vibration energy’ and the “symbolic, historical and cultural significance of gold.’
The project is built around a strong symbol: the fireplace, which is cube-shaped as a leading-edge kitchen, though with a new identity. The relevance of this realistic structure lays in its universality, thus enabling the artist to create an original work that metaphorically evokes humanity in the process of forgetting itself. A wall of a series of micro- waves recessed into rails shows the images of a lost paradise recalling the walls of Plato’s Cave. Several videos show the images of a water bottling plant: shuffled rhythms on a metal background give rise to stars that open and transform like new galaxies. Another video shows virtual and incandescent gold in an everlasting fight against water and evokes chaos. Gold as an economic index turn into a promise of beauty.
Egypt Pavilion: Can You See?
“Can You See?,” challenges the viewer: the artists have hidden a message in plain sight. The word PEACE is spelled out in five three-dimensional, grassy structures that overwhelm the human scale of readability. While navigating this uncertain textual space, the viewer is further confronted by an “augmented reality” overlain on the gallery space through the interface of attached tablets. This virtual interaction offer viewers the option to choose two branching narratives, either positive or negative, which play out in the space, altering the word PEACE into varying, and sometimes conflicting, scenes.
A narrow path created in white MDF and covered in astroturf winds around the space, creating ramps, steep drop-offs, and passageways. A handful of Samsung tablets have been set up on stands throughout the space in a way that has the visual cues of a pretty lame corporate-sponsored “art” show. A soundtrack that might take the title “Meadow in Springtime” on Muzak plays. The tablets have their cameras pointed at a logo pasted onto the fake grass that spells out “PEACE” in both the Latin alphabet and Arabic script. As it turns out, the ramps and paths also create this same insignia if viewed from above.
Estonia Pavilion: Not Suitable For Work. A Chairman’s Tale
“Not Suitable For Work. A Chairman’s Tale”, Depicted as a fragmented fictitious opera, the exhibition is a multimedia installation with videos and found objects displayed along-side archival materials. A Chairman’s Tale is a fragmented fictive opera, which follows a Soviet Estonian collective farm chairman on trial for acts of homosexuality in the 1960s. The exhibition brings together archive materials from Soviet Estonia and the elegant aesthetics of opera.
Samma adopts a similar strategy, which is highlighted by the title Not Suitable For Work taken from internet slang 3 and applied to Chairman’s tale in order to emphasise the precarious professional and social position of all individuals subjected to the scrutiny of power. Moreover, the computer terminology refers to the pervading nature of media society, which turns us into passive witnesses of history and its discriminations, discords and contradictions. The social debate on LGBTI rights intercepts the wider issue of the violation of fundamental human rights, so common in the past and the current day alike. In this sense, the Chairman’s story becomes the tip of the iceberg for a broader denouncement addressed at all kinds of discrimination: cultural, social, political, religious, sexual and racial. Therefore, once again, in order to remind us that art is always for the co-existence of differences.
Finland Pavilion: Hours, Years, Aeons
IC-98 transform the Pavilion into a chamber that guides viewers into the Giardini on another plane of temporality: Deep time begins to resonate through fleeting cycles of life, and space appears as infinite dark matter. The garden as a microcosm of knowledge and colonial power over the world of cultural diversity, as well as biodiversity, now appears as a realm governed by the transformations that only a tree can live through. As the entanglement of different time scales and causal relations in the work of IC-98 suggests, teleology fails us here and future horizons falter. Trees may well inherit the land, but what kind of a land we must ask.
Animations and installations creating metaphorically charged realms of uncertain coordinates, these landscapes are shaped by interlaced forces of nature and technology, navigation and exploitation, climate and migration. The viewer is invited to enter this world. The new mixed media installation by IC-98 continues their Abendland cycle of works which, in the artists’ own words, aims to “show a world without human beings, the new mutated landscape built on the remains of human civilization. This is not a paradise, not a regained pastoral existence. Hours, Years, Aeons encapsulates the artists’ long-term critical investigations—from boardrooms of power and bounds of public space to ecological frontiers—into an epic new work within which matter and myth merge in the face of today’s seismic shifts. This is what it means to deal with the end results of the Anthropocene.
France Pavilion: rêvolutions
“Rêvolutions”, as an experimental ecosystem that reveals the constantly evolving state of nature through sound, light and motion. Céleste boursier-mougenot transforms the french pavilion from a vast, vaulted space to a kinetic forested oasis intended for reflection and retreat. Through the interplay between artifice and organic form, the pavilion is transformed into a surreal ecosystem of poetry and meditative experience. Boursier-Mougenot’s work frequently uses technological intervention to create multisensory environments, bringing the viewer into direct contact with an experiential world that the artist describes as a phenomenon, like a living organism, indissociable from the conditions of its emergence and the circumstances of the present.
Visitors are guided into and through the space by three uncanny, quivering artificial trees, which form larger patterns of choreographed movement and generate their own droning sound. At first sight, you do not realize that the tree, that lies in the middle of the airy pavilion of France, moves. Only looking carefully, from the pavilion’s side rooms, at this imposing Scots pine, you perceive its “dance”. By combining nature and technology, Céleste Boursier-Mougenot, artists and musician, conceived an installation (that is also a choreography) inspired by the “wonderful things” of the Mannerist gardens. The tree moves around the pavilion depending on its metabolism, on its sap flow and on the variation in light and shade in the environment. Design elements and furnishings within the pavilion offer variable reference points for spectators, and the structure itself is partially slathered in an artificial foam, designed for a previous series, that flows and expands in response to the sounds of the installation.
Georgia Pavilion: Crawling Border
“Crawling Border” is the reality, which Georgia and other post-Soviet countries are confronted with and which owes its existence to the country’s geopolitical position.Georgia’s pavilion aims to highlight this reality to a maximum extent and to make a certain intervention in one ofthe most important platforms for contemporary art. It serves as a political and social message bringing a kind of dissonance into the current political landscape of Europe.The main concept is a narrative of events structured as a DNA chain analogy, which exists in its usual environmentand often remains unnoticed before it is impacted by provoking external factors.Crawling Border is primarily associated with the drawing of borders in a stealthy manner, and the personaltragedy of many people behind it often escapes our attention.
The Pavilion of Georgia takes the form of a kamikaze loggia hosting an exhibition of the Bouillon Group, Thea Djordjadze, Nikoloz Lutidze, Gela Patashuri with Ei Arakawa and Sergei Tcherepnin, and Gio Sumbadze. The exhibition looks at the creation of such informal architecture, a manifestation of the refusal of dominant structures, in order to incorporate provisional liberty, local self-determination and contemporary appropriation of the infrastructural legacy of Soviet master plans. The exhibition aims at presenting the extraordinary range of informality, bottom-up solutions and the concept of self- organization in Georgian art and architecture.
Germany Pavilion: Fabrik
Fabrik, alludes to a factory where, rather that goods, images are produced. Therefore, the six works exposed within the pavilion, adopt the metaphor of images to express the interconnections and the circulation of people, ideas and goods in the contemporary, globalized and digital, world. “Fabrik” presents four artistic responses to issues of work, migration, and revolt, with each project given its own stage within the voluminous building, from the basement to the roof. The German Pavilion act as a dynamic factory for art and ideas, continuing in the country’s historical use of the high-ceiled exhibition space as a reflection of history, memory, and identity. Uniting these diverse approaches to art-making, the German Pavilion aims to shine a light on the ways in which visual media works reality into fiction in order to stir necessary social commentary.
Olaf Nicolai occupies the roof area for a seven-month-long exhibition event, where actors was choreographed in a mysterious chain of production. He activates the rooftop as a “heterotopia” of potential freedom. Hito Steyerl’s video installation Factory of the Sun (2015) is constructed somewhere between documentary and virtual imagination, as is typical of her engaged, theoretical approach. Real political stakes are channelled through a fictional lens to think about the future of visual culture and image circulation. Tobias Zielony continues his work of heightened documentary of people on society’s margins that collages photographs of African refugees in Berlin and Hamburg into a narrative about migration. asmina Metwaly and Philip Rizk’s film Out on the Street (2015) is an “experimental chamber play” set in a working-class community in Egypt, where the pair have been documenting unrest since 2011. This case of power dynamics within a privatized factory raises concerns of exploitation and capitalist domination relevant across the globe.
Great Britain Pavilion: Sarah Lucas
“I Scream Daddio”, solo exhibition of Sarah Lucas, reprise and reinvent the themes that have come to define her powerfully irreverent art, gender, death, sex, and the innuendo residing in everyday objects. Humour is about negotiating the contradictions thrown up by convention. To a certain extent humour and seriousness are interchangeable. Otherwise it wouldn’t be funny. Or devastating. Throughout this latest group of works, the body – sexual, comedic, majestic – remains a crucial point of return, while Lucas’s work continues to confront big themes with a distinctive wit. These bawdy, empowered muses form a chorus line that upends the traditional objectification of the female form in male art history, while recalling the incomplete bodily casts Lucas has created throughout her career, such as You Know What (1998) or CNUT (2004).
The works in the exhibition include Maradona, a grandiose figure in joyous repose, part man, part maypole, part praying mantis, which stands in duplicate at the centre of the exhibition. Named after the iconic Argentine footballer, the figure squats on the ground. The female body features more literally in a series of plaster sculptures of fragmentary pairs of legs which are gracefully animated through their combination with the ordinary domestic furniture that has featured since Lucas’s earliest installations. Other works are more domestic in scale and subject. Lucas’ Tit Cat sculptures – again derived from models made from stuffed tights, combine the wiry forms of cats with tied-off, drooping orbs. Arching and prancing, their tails variously drooping and rearing, these strange metamorphic creatures epitomise the way in which Lucas’ art slides between real and surreal registers.
Greece Pavilion: Why Look at Animals? Agrimiká.
The installation titled “Why Look At Animals?” recreate a shop for animal hides and leather from the central Greek city of Volos inside the neoclassical building. AGRIMIKÁ suggests that humans’ anthropocentrism, which leads us define ourselves as “non-wild, and different from all other animals,” sparks a series of concerns ranging from politics and history to economics and traditions. The AGRIMIKÁ of Papadimitriou’s concern, along with the shop in Volos, are those animals that tenaciously resist domestication. They coexist with humans in a condition where the roles of prey and predator are constantly switching—but the human hunter usually prevails with the animal prey as a trophy. Nonetheless, these are the animals that feature in most foundational cosmologies and mythologies.
The little shop in Volos is an “objet trouvé” resituated inside the Greek pavilion. The reality of the shop is the expression and documentation of the unique personality of its owner, who has witnessed a great part of the history of modern Greece and kept a critical attitude towards it. The Agrimiká shop appearing unchanged by time and place, is analogous to the surrounding space of the neoclassical pavilion, also left unaltered. The pavilion creates the context that charges and reveals this spatial “objet trouvé.”In the “ruined” landscape of the Greek pavilion, the non-domesticate-able animals, the agrimiká, become the vehicle for a contemporary allegory of the dispossesed, and attempts to galvanize our instinctive resistance to the decadence that surrounds us. This presentation of the relationship of humans to animals sparks series of concerns ranging from politics and history to economics and traditions, ethics and aesthetics, fear of the foreign and the incomprehensible, and our profound anthropocentrism that allows us to define ourselves as non-wild, different from all other animals.
Guatemala Pavilion: Sweet Death
“Sweet death” present the decadence of contemporary society in its different expressions hits straight to the heart. The exhibition is a remarkable expression of contemporary society. The artists captured not only the essence of the decadence affecting different environments of our society but expressed this slow and inexorable death with irony. “The dream of Italians” representing the corpse of Berlusconi created by Garullo&Ottocento with an expression of bliss in a coffin of clear glass, like a sort of Snow White ready to wake up in any moment, is creating a contrast between the alleged sanctity of this man and the undeniable truth of Italian politics decadence. The death decadence in Italy is affecting also the cinema industry, represented by the sculpture dedicated to Luchino Visconti and its Death in Venice in remembrance of an old and lost elegance of Italian cinematographic production.
The most dramatic section of the exposition is that dedicated to the works of Guatemalan artists. Testiculos qui non habet, Papa Esse non posset (i.e. One cannot be pope without testicles) by Mariadolores Castellanos and showing the emblematic and mythic figure of the female pope Joan, symbol heresy and weakness of a religious belief governed for centuries only by men. Decadence and death are that showed by the representation of a distorted and lost childhood in which Disney characters, Barbie and Dolls assume a negative meaning. Of great impact is the giant and black skull created by Sabrina Bertolelli dominating the room of Memento Mori and Vanitas, which is followed by the last exhibition focused on the culinary death. The artists of the group “La Grande Bouffe” mock new cooking trends, such as the molecular cuisine. One of the main work is that proposed by Luigi Citatella and showing a child in front of a skinny dish symbol of an impressive food gap between countries like Guatemala and Italy.
Holy See Pavilion: In Principio… la parola si fece carne
“In the beginning…the Word became flesh”, structured around two poles: The transcendent Word, which reveals the communicative nature of the God of Jesus Christ; and the Word made flesh, bringing the presence of God in humanity, especially when it appears injured and suffering. Their inseparable unity produces a dialectic dynamism, irregular, elliptical, abruptly accelerating, precipitously slowing down, to solicit in the artists as in the public, a reflection on a combination that lies at the root of humanity itself. In light of the consonance of their current research journey with the chosen theme, for the variety of the techniques used, and for their geographic and cultural provenance, three young artists chosen for the exhibit bring the influences from different backgrounds, with different experiences, vision, ethics and aesthetics.
Hungary Pavilion: Sustainable Identities
“Sustainable Identities” reflects on how the key concepts of our world have been reduced to catchy slogans. The curatorial concept builds on the space of the hungarian pavilion in Venice and Cseke’s mobile objects. The focus of the installation is the cognitive space created by motion and electronics. The installation with a luminous, kinetic network of intersecting PVC foil tubes suspended above viewers’ heads. These translucent channels contain white balls that are pushed through the paths by fans. At times, the balls meet and collide, emulating human migratory patterns and the conflicts they sometimes instigate. A large foil cushion, that inflates and deflates as if breathing, grounds the installation in a stable, organic mass and serves as a balancing counterpoint to the frenetic system of movement above. A sound piece, made in collaboration between Cseke and Ábris Gryllus, complements the installation.
Indonesia Pavilion: Voyage Trokomod
Titled “Trokomod”, the exhibition nclude a site-specific, voyage-themed work that Heri Dono developed together with local architects and artisans from Bandung, West Java, and Yogyakarta. The show’s centerpiece, a conflation of the Greek Trojan Horse and an Indonesian Komodo dragon, is a large boat in the shape of Indonesia’s native reptile, its tarnished metal skin a commentary on colonial gold mining. Viewers was able to enter the dragon to look through periscopes at Western artifacts, like a statue of a man in a white, curly horse-hair wig, shifting the traditional Eastern-facing direction of the exoticizing gaze.
Iran Pavilion: Iranian Highlights
Titled “The Great Game”, the Pavilion of Iran is filled with works by artists from across the Middle East and Southeast Asia. The exhibition takes the historical, political, economic, religious, and social tangles of the region as inspiration and presents a grouping of artists eager to respond to their everyday reality. Iran, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Central-Asian Republics, Kurdish Region, a consideration that the geographical area of these Countries is, in fact, a historically unique territory, its destiny indissolubly linked by its historical and cultural situation: around these places there took place, and still takes place, what since the XIX century has been known as “The Great Game” for supremacy in Asia. A tangle of political, economic, religious, and social situations also finds an expression and interpretation in the art produced in these places.
The exhibition hopes to show through the work of some forty artists working in the region and who are particularly aware of social-political questions. The exhibition demonstrates the centrality of this question and how it is perceived and reestablished by an international public through the language of contemporary art; it has already been expressed in major international shows, but it is still hampered by the genuine existential difficulties of those who have first-hand experience of a tangle of contradictions: a precise mirror-image of what could be the linguistic outcome of globalization. So this is not an overview of the art of these countries – which by now, at least for some of them, is well known – but is a genuine conceptual “thrust” into one of the places that is an everyday and superficially – considered protagonist of the media. The show’s chosen theme obviously implies that these works have been chosen from among those that most meaningfully approach the problems under analysis.
Iraq Pavilion: Invisible Beauty
“Invisible Beauty” feature five contemporary artists from across Iraq and the diaspora. The artists work in a range of media and the Pavilion include new works that have been produced specifically for the exhibition as well as works that have been rediscovered after long periods of inattention. The exhibition was accompanied by a display of over 500 drawings made by refugees in northern Iraq. World renowned artist Ai Weiwei has selected a number of these drawings for a major publication that launch at the Biennale. “Invisible Beauty” is like a fragile membrane that registers the oscillations of an artistic practice permeated by the current condition of the country and the state of the arts.
“Invisible Beauty” refers both to the unusual or unexpected subjects in the works that was on display and to the inevitable invisibility of Iraqi artists on the international stage. The relationship of art to survival, record-keeping, therapy and beauty are amongst the many themes raised by the exhibition. The endlessly interpretable title is intended to reveal the many different ways of approaching art generated by a country that has been subjected to war, genocide, violations of human rights and, in the last year, the rise of Isis. The systematic demolition of the cultural heritage of Iraq by Isis, seen recently in the destruction of centuries-old historical sites at Hatra, Nimrud and Nineveh and the events at the Mosul Museum, has made it more important than ever to focus on artists continuing to work in Iraq.
Ireland Pavilion: Adventure: Capital
Entitled “Adventure: Capital that traces a journey from myth to minimalism around Ireland and Britain”. Combining sculptural, video and archival elements, Adventure: Capital was Lynch’s most ambitious project to date, bringing together banknote rivergods, public art at regional airports, abandoned quarries, a field in Cork and a roundabout in Wexford, on a storytelling journey that explores notions of value and the flow of capital through an anthropological lens.
Sean Lynch’s multi-media practice positions him somewhere between artist and storyteller. Similar to a historian or ethnographer, he reveals unwritten stories and forgotten histories, extracting alternative readings of place, events and artefacts through his works. Lynch’s projections, photographs and sculptural installations refer to a contemporary form of the Irish Bardic tradition; lost narratives of Irish social and cultural heritage are revived and given new form through his artistic practice.
Israel Pavilion: Tsibi Geva | Archeology of the Present
The Israeli Pavilion, a site-specific installation includes walls covered in window shutters, and a large-scale work consisting of found household objects, which are packed into a corner behind glass walls. Tsibi Geva wrapped the buliding in old car tyres and filled it with a mixture of found architectural and household objects. The pavilion’s exterior is covered in a grid of over 1,000 used car tyres imported from Israel and tied together to create a protective layer that covers the walls of the structure, including the windows, leaving only the entrance exposed.
By intervening directly into the structure of the gallery, Geva similarly erodes the comfortable categories governing the traditional experience of art, “inside” and “outside,” “artwork” and “gallery wall.” The resulting space, titled “Archeology of the Present,” concentrates the many ambiguities—political, formal, existential, spatial—present in Geva’s oeuvre into a singular locus of visual stimulation. Paintings featuring terrazzo floor tiles, chain-link, windows, and latticework, and a modification of the pavilion structure using found and repurposed building materials, like tires and cement blocks, that extends from interior to exterior surfaces, troubling the exclusionary qualities of the physical wall. On the upper levels, Geva has installed large-scale paintings and further found-object sculptures, which feature a range of artefacts contained inside metal cages with a triangular profile. Each of these features a different pattern in the metalwork lattice, with some emulating brickwork and others appearing more abstract.
Italy Pavilion: Codice Italia
Entitle “Codice Italia”, the exhibition is a voyage across Italy’s contemporary art, highlighting some constants, that share a common “genetic code”. The artists of Codice Italia aim to re-invent media, while, at the same time, they draw on the existing iconographic and cultural material in a problematic way. Although the work of these artists is in tune with the most audacious results of international artistic research, they avoid the dictatorship of the present. The exhibition provides autonomy to each artist’s work and organized in “rooms”, each housing one piece of art and one archive of memory. Alongside with the invited artists’ work, the exhibition features some homages by Peter Greenaway, William Kentridge and Jean-Marie Straub and a video-installation by Davide Ferrario presenting an insight on what memory by Umberto Eco.
Japan Pavilion: The Key in the Hand
The installation, titled “The Key in the Hand,” a installation by Chiharu Shiota, consisting of two boats, red yarn, and a huge number of keys, from a network of deep red yarn, each thread attached to a key—from the ceiling. The immense accumulation of intertwined keys, solicited from international donors on the artist’s website, imbues the space with psychic energy, focusing individual recollections into a kind of global shared memory. The rich symbolism of the key further inspires the viewer to follow Shiota’s conceptual path, emerging from collective tragedies and personal dramas into an unknown, optimistic future of novel connections and unspecified opportunities.
Keys are familiar and very valuable things that protect important people and spaces in our lives. They also inspire us to open the door to unknown worlds. Chiharu Shiota use keys provided by the general public that are imbued with various recollections and memories that have accumulated over a long period of daily use. As I create the work in the space, the memories of everyone who provides Chiharu Shiota with their keys overlap with my own memories for the first time. These overlapping memories in turn combine with those of the people from all over the world who come to see the biennale, giving them a chance to communicate in a new way and better understand each other’s feelings.
Korea Pavilion: The Ways of Folding Space & Flying
“The Ways of Folding Space & Flying”, explore the role of the artist in a society that rapidly changes. Artists Moon Kyungwon and Jeon Joonho present this new site-specific work, a complex piece of architecture, featuring a glass wall designed by Kim Seok-chul and Franco Mancuso, in Korea, and filmed a video about a post-apocalyptic universe. The work refers to the Taoistic concepts of physical distance and the supernatural ability of moving between time and space. A work about humans’ need to surpass obstacles and physiology the way artists imagine and challenge physical limitations.
The title is derived from the korean words chukjibeop and bihaengsul, in eastern culture, these notions have been researched not only as mediums of meditative practice, but also as a means of arriving at a state of complete emancipation in both mind and body, from physical limitations and natural forces. The exhibition reflect on the human desire to surpass the physical and perceived barriers and structures that bind us, despite the absurdity of such imaginings. while some scientific theories and hypostheses have actually supported the possibility of realize these seemingly farfetched notions, they remain largely in the realms of parable and fantasy, thus epitomizing our intrinsic yearning to transform the world around us.
Kosovo Pavilion: Speculating on the blue
“Speculating on the Blue”, solo presentation of Flaka Haliti, reflecting on the meaning of borders, democracy, freedom and mobility”. Her approach is one of recontextualizing global politics through disconnection from its regime of appearance. The metaphor of the horizon, simultaneously emblem of possibility and enigma of our limitations is woven into the fabric of our past and present. By drawing on the universal meaning of this metaphor, the artist removes the image economy of the horizon from any specific spatial-temporal context and speculates on its validity as an eternal truth. With Speculating on the Blue, Flaka Haliti positions the observer in an intermediate space that oscillates between expansion and confinement, proximity and distance; a space that opens up multiple temporal dimensions simultaneously and as a result is experienced as a work of constant actualization.
The skeletons of barrier-like objects that occupy the exhibition space are a reference to the aesthetics of the concrete walls that are erected between nations and regions as a materialization of conflict. Haliti’s installation aims at de-militarizing and de-contextualizing this specific aesthetic regime by stripping the columns down to their material essence and juxtaposing them with elements that are by nature resistant to the concept of borders. In this scenario, the horizon and the blue pictorial ground create a counter image to the concept of borders and function as a tool to raise new perspectives. The interplay of the elements and the different images they generate is the artist’s method for creating an intermediate space that allows for the subjective experience of viewers engaging with her work.
Latvia Pavilion: Armpit
Latvian Pavilion innovative forms encountered in everyday life. In garages resembling home laboratories and workshops installed in rural yards, these men prove that our attitude towards technologies and the world of industrially manufactured products should not be that of passive consumption. “ARMPIT”, a multimedia art installation by Katrīna Neiburga and Andris Eglītis. It is a sculpted system of building constructions interwoven with video-stories about a peculiar local phenomenon, “garage elves”, who tend to spend their leisure time tinkering with various mechanisms in workshops set up for this hobby.
Andris Eglītis has created an improvised cast of the peculiar microcosm of the garage communities. It is a kaleidoscopic system of sculpted building structures, made of prefabricated building materials of the vernacular shantytown architecture. The building structure is interwoven with the video narratives by Katrīna Neiburga. Her portraits of the members of garage communities reside as imagined inhabitants of the newly installed dwelling, which reminds a mixture between a convent and a sweat-shop. Katrīna Neiburga usually works with time-based media, using them in her socio-anthropological investigative art, multimedia installations and scenography. Andris Eglītis tends toward the traditional in his choice of media; his desire to experiment with painting and novel sculptural forms has led him to turn to architectonic exercises as a bodily experienced practice versus concept-based art.
Lithuania Pavilion: Museum
Titled “Museum’, a projec deconstructs the myths of Lithuanian art history that gained ground during the period of Soviet occupation. The story “Museum’ is a hyper-textual first-person narrative by Dainius Liškevičius, threading together, by logical, conceptual and formal links, Soviet-period forms of political protest presented at the exhibition, the historical personalities representing these forms, and cultural artefacts, with bits and pieces from the artist’s career and his art.
Luxembourg Pavilion: Paradiso Lussemburgo. Filip Markiewicz
Titled “Paradiso Lussemburgo”, a work takes the form of a vast total theatre that fully occupies six rooms of the pavilion. Filip Markiewicz presents a mental image of Luxembourg combined with a reflection on contemporary identity. The various waves of immigration recorded since the beginning of the twentieth century in Luxembourg have led to the country being seen as a sort of haven for integration. Again, there is a strong allusion to the image of Luxembourg given by some foreign media, the tax haven, a theme addressed here head-on but also with a certain irony.
At once museum, creative laboratory, a place of cultural entertainment combining dance, performance, DJing, reading, architecture and music, Paradiso Lussemburgo presents Luxembourg, in the European and global context, as a national sample in which the various nationalities and cultures constituting the same identity, are combined. It is a journey to the outer limits of a plural and complex identity, in a way that is both critical, political and fantastical.
Macedonia Pavilion: We are all in this alone
Titled “We Are All In This Alone”, Hristina Ivanoska and Yane Calovski addresses the notion of faith in today’s concurrent and multiple socio-political conditions. The project references a number of intricate sources: a fresco painting from the church of St. Gjorgi in Kurbinovo, painted by an unknown author in the 12th Century, as well as writings by Simone Weil, Luce Irigaray, and personal notes by Paul Thek dating from the 1970s. While searching for political values in the representations of formal aesthetic and literary sources, the work carries a specific urgency to articulate ways we continuously engage and disengage the past from the present while questioning the notion of faith.
While searching for political values in the representations of formal aesthetic and literary sources, the work carries a specific urgency to articulate ways we continuously engage and disengage the past from the present while questioning the notion of faith. Yane Calovski’s drawings and collages refer to recently discovered correspondences of Paul Thek in the Marzona Collection in Berlin, addressing the difficulty to survive while creating, producing and maintaining one’s own work and keeping faith in the idealism of collaborative production. Additionally, addressing the value of hidden poetics in the details positioned well beyond the mundane clichés of one’s own need to produce language, Calovski literally paints invisible icons, procured through the physical disposal of the image as a religious symbol.
Mauritius Pavilion: From One Citizen You Gather an Idea
The Mauritius Pavilion, based on a dialogue between Mauritian and European artists, is not only a slice of the Mauritian artistic scene, but also a take on Western conventions when it comes to assessing the “art now’. Challenging each other’s aesthetic and ideological canons, discussing art theory and practice, colonial heritage and postcolonial relations, education and politicisation of culture. With this indirect approach to the idea of inclusiveness and difference, carried out by the work of thirteen prominent artists in their respective countries, the Pavilion of Mauritius aims to “take the temperature’ of the global art world, and possibly provide, besides a lot of questions and some answers.
Mexico Pavilion: Possessing Nature
“Possessing Nature” investigate the relationship between architecture, infrastructure, and global power. “Possessing Nature” began from multiple points of investigation, parallelisms, intentions, urgencies and acts of reflection. Conceived as an engineering apparatus whose function is to evoke, Possessing Nature presents itself as a monumental sculpture, a hydraulic system, a resonance chamber, a mirror, and a canal. A piece of (counter)infrastructure, it emphasizes two moments of modernity: materiality and dynamism, as well as its arrogance and the limits of its dream. It is evocative because it is nature that fluctuates, that flows, falls, bathes, and spills over.
As monumental sculpture, it creates a tension in the space of exhibition in such a way that it comes to oppress it. As a hydraulic system, it uses the pressure of the water drawn from the lagoon to generate turbulence inside the monument, thereby calming the water at its mouth. This mirror of water then receives and refracts the images that are projected onto its surface. The ‘wateriness’ produced between mirror and projection in turn generates a concern in the texture of the image, which ends up violently discharging its own spectral character. The sculpture is a part of “drainage system”, as monument, ruins, and specter, but also “drainage” as a symbolic action that cyclically, timelessly drains away every natural, vital flow into a possession, that is to say, dispossessed. Thus, Possessing Nature is a wound, a duct, a ditch: a drainage system placed in the military heart of a city prostrate in water.
Mongolia Pavilion: Other Home
The Mongolia Pavilion presents Unen Enkh and Enkhbold Togmidshiirev, two artists who work with organic materials from Mongolian nomadic life and raise questions about the global problems of cultural otherness and modern-day alienation from nature. Building upon the historical legacy of Venice’s relationship with nomads and Mongols, the Mongolia Pavilion consists of two types of art presentation: a sedentary pavilion space at the Palazzo Mora and a nomadic pavilion. The new era of globalization is characteristic of high technology and mobility between continents often resulting in questions of one’s belonging. The Mongolia Pavilion responds to global problem of displacement through a multifaceted notion of one’s “home” as the site for sharing energies between peoples and cultures in any part of global world.
Mozambique Pavilion: Coexistence of Tradition and Modernity in Contemporary Mozambique
The pavilion of Mozambique, a country of heterogeneous culture. The exhibition of contemporary art production focusing on traditional and modern objects to explicate the relationships of art to spirituality. Display incorporates items of cultural production such as headrests, pottery, masks, beadwork, sculptures, statues, baskets, and body scarifications, which are used to express cultural identity, beauty, and the social status of members of community; and, especially, objects used for divination rituals. It is suggested that this exhibition aims to highlight the importance and continuing relevance that traditional art has in the contemporary times and explore its role in current cultural developments. In this analysis of traditional objects it is important to clarify the role of divination and its central place on society.
The spiritual value and the purpose of an object affects its aesthetic value to Africans. These objects may be important to people because they are family heirlooms, which link the individual to the ancestors, or, because they have a historical significance. Objects are also important because apart from being conveyors of spirituality, they link the individual to a cultural past. One of the main challenges is the fact that traditional art, as an important component of modern art, as well as, everyday life, is gaining its place within the mainstream concept of art around the world, influenced by artistic movements, of which creative youth feature prominently, towards the future of the humanity.
Netherlands Pavilion: herman de vries – to be all ways to be
The project titled “to be all ways to be”, use of organic materials and redesigned Dutch Pavilion, earth pigments, into the Giardini and further, out to multiple locations in the lagoon. Representation of nature conceived by Herman de Vries. Alongside with recent pieces of art by the Dutch artist, the pavilion houses works specifically created for the city of Venice, which has been analyzed as a habitat, an ecosystem to explore. Natura mater is located on Lazzaretto Vecchio. The now-uninhabited island once housed a quarantine area for those thought to be suffering from the plague or subsequent infectious disease outbreaks, Be decorated by Rose buds, marsh plants.
New Zealand Pavilion: Secret Power
Simon Denny’s project for the New Zealand pavilion was split across two spaces—the arrivals areas of the Marco Polo Airport and the Monumental Rooms of the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana in Piazzetta San Marco. The installation at the airport is situated within the airside area. Secret Power addresses the intersection of knowledge and geography in the post-Snowden era. It investigates current and obsolete languages for describing geo-political space, focusing on the roles played by technology and design. The contexts and histories of both venues provide highly productive frameworks for Secret Power, and have been directly engaged with through the work.
Simon Denny is the first Biennale artist to use the terminal at Marco Polo Airport. Denny’s installation operate between national borders, mixing the languages of commercial display, contemporary airport interior design, and historical representations of the value of knowledge. Denny has “dragged-and-dropped’ two actual-size photographic reproductions of the Library’s decorated interior across the floor and walls of the arrivals lounge, traversing the border between Schengen and non-Schengen space. In Marciana Library, was partly showcase prompted by the impact of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden’s leaks of PowerPoint slides outlining top-secret US telecommunications surveillance programmes to the world media, which began in 2013. These slides highlighted New Zealand’s role in US intelligence work, as a member of the US-led Five Eyes alliance.
Nordic Pavilion Pavilion: Rapture
“rapture’, as a set of performances by musicians and vocalists at specific times; and a three-part publication which explores the relationship between the human body and sound, through the visual, the sonic and the architectural body. Sound, by its nature, permeates borders, even invisible ones. Throughout history, fear has been associated with the paradoxical effects music has on the body and mind, and its power as a reward-giving de-centraliser of control. Camille Norment works with the glass armonica that creates ethereal music from the touch of fingers on glass and water – and a chorus of 12 female voices. weaving these elements together within the pavilion itself, norment creates an immersive, multi-sensory space, which reflects upon the history of sound, contemporary concepts of consonance and dissonance, and the water, glass and light of venice.
Antoinette, the glass armonica was at first celebrated for curing people with its entrancing music, but later it was banned because it was thought to induce states of ecstasy and arouse sexual excitement in women. Recognised as capable of inducing states akin to sex and drugs, music is still seen by many in the world as an experience that should be controlled, especially in relation to the female body, and yet it is also increasingly used as a tool for control, especially under the justifications of war. In a contemporary context, Norment explores the tensions this music raises today by creating a multi-sensory space, which reflects upon the history of sound, contemporary concepts of consonance and dissonance, and the water, glass and light of Venice. The artist composes a chorus of voices that correspond to the unresolved notes of the much censored “devils’s” tritone and of the glass armonica, and this chorus immerses visitors to “Rapture’.
Peru Pavilion: Misplaced Ruins
Titled “Misplaced Ruins”, by Gilda Mantilla and Raimond Chaves addresses the problems of engaging cultural difference, conjuring the translational and transnational negotiations required by international mobility and social, cultural, ideological, and linguistic “belonging.” Allusions to Peru abound: pre-Columbian architecture, urban sprawl, tabloid journalism, underground economy, events in recent history, traditional music, the billboard-ridden highways, and even local weather conditions (Lima’s usually overcast skies). Yet these allusions, translated by the artists, become ambiguous citations: the culturally specific reference is betrayed by the blind spots of its translation: political agendas, vested interests, equivocation. Mantilla and Chaves suggest that what different groups of people might consider “their own”: culture, history, traditions, is always a site of struggle.
Philippines Pavilion: Tie a String Around the World
The Philippine Pavilion at Palazzo Mora show Manuel Conde’s 1950 film Genghis Khan next to works by contemporary artists such as media artist Jose Tence Ruiz and filmmaker Mariano Montelibano III. The exhibition promises to engender a dialogue on the “history of sea and its relationship with the current world, claims to patrimony, and the struggle of nation-states over vast and intensely contested nature.”
At a tangent to Genghis Khan, the work of Jose Tence Ruiz references the Sierra Madre in the work Shoal. Ruiz evokes the spectral ship as an ambivalent silhouette of a shoal through an assemblage of metal, velvet, and wood. Manny Montelibano presents the multi-channel video piece A Dashed State on the West Philippine Sea. It dwells on the sound of epics and radio frequencies that crisscross the expanse and the vignettes of seemingly uneventful life ways in the islands. From the vantage point of Palawan, threshold to Borneo and the South China Sea, he films the conditions of the impossible: what makes a common sea and where lie frontier and edge, melancholy and migration.
Poland Pavilion: Halka/Haiti. 18°48’05″N 72°23’01″W
An engagement with multicultural subject matter, marked by Joanna Malinowska and Christian Tomaszewski, decided to revisit his mad plan of bringing opera to the tropics. The opera decided to stage was Stanisław Moniuszko’s Halka, a tragic story of love destroyed by class difference, considered Poland’s “national opera” ever since its Warsaw premiere in 1858. The historical background of this opera was, in the early 1800s, Napoleon sent his troops into colonial Haiti to quell an insurgency of slaves. A Polish legion, looking to ally with France against its own occupiers, Prussia and Austria, joined the army; upon realizing that the Haitians were fighting for their freedom, the Polish soldiers turned on the French and aided in the revolution.
In an attempt to undercut Fitzcarraldo’s colonial romanticism, they decide to confront a set of particular historical and sociopolitical realities by staging “Halka”, considered to be Poland’s “national opera,” in the seemingly unlikely locale of Cazale, Haiti, a village inhabited by the descendants. On February 7, 2015, a one-time-only performance of “Halka” was presented to a rapt local audience on a winding dirt road. A collaboration between Polish and Haitian performers, the event was filmed in one take to be presented later as a large-scale projected panorama in the Polish Pavilion at the Venice Biennale.
Portugal Pavilion: I was Your Mirror / poems and problems
The project “I’ll Be Your Mirror” by João Louro borrows the title of a song from the Velvet Underground. The works created specifically for the Portuguese Pavilion and which have been extraordinarily well adapted to the space in each room of the Palazzo Loredan Library, highlight the concern that João Louro has always shown in generating new semantic aspects and raising doubts about norms accepted by our visual culture, as well as in converting the spectator’s role into that of a participant, creating invented places and imagining scenes and inhabiting words that allow us to cultivate our deepest desires and aspirations. In these creations Louro emphasises the visual language and its methods of expression, and considers interpretation as a form of communication between the work of art and the spectator, attempting to constitute new spheres of thinking in order to feel, reflect and interchange.
Louro sets out an overview of his career, of his artistic and cultural convictions, his concerns and aesthetic and sociological decisions. Through elements taken from Minimalism and Conceptual Art, Louro builds his own world according to the traces that his readings, music and the cinema have left in his path; fusing these traces he builds a sort of autobiography, a personal diary, in which the texts or events are charged with meaning. He reiterates his questioning into the meaning and symbolic efficiency of the image and language, using invisibility or erasing as strategies to remind us that access is denied to us and that the spectator is always a part of the work: the work stands as a mirror, granting the spectator with the main role. João Louro’s conceptual work is a questioning about the limits and the expressive capacity of the image, reflecting outside the narrow margin of the work of art itself.
Romani Pavilion: Adrian Ghenie: Darwin’s Room
“Darwin’s Room”, an exhibition of recent paintings by Adrian Ghenie. Adrian Ghenie is known for moody paintings, often portraits or interiors, that he bedecks with patches of brushy abstraction. Ghenie delves into the character of Charles Darwin and the development and subsequent 20th century perversions of his crowning hypothesis, evolution. The three-part exhibition spans multiple years of Ghenie’s recent output, including a series of self portraits the artist created as Darwin. In his paintings, the artist strips major historical figures of their gravitas and in turn, history’s own usability as a defining and guiding narrative.
The title “Darwin’s Room”, refers not only to a series of portraits (and self-portraits in the guise) of the great British naturalist, but also to Ghenie’s exploration of twentieth-century history as an expanded »laboratory of evolution,« with seminal ideas fighting for survival and domination as part of an allegorical interweaving of past and future histories. The conceptual construct behind the exhibition as a whole is based on the artist’s vision of the contemporary world, defined by memory and desire, upheaval and spectacle.
Russia Pavilion: The Green Pavilion
The Russian Pavilion present Irina Nakhova’s The Green Pavilion.
Painter and installation artist Irina Nakhova has contributed to the development of Moscow (or Russian) Conceptualism, a movement that attempted to undercut socialist ideology and imagery. Nakhova describes the environments as “a total installation in “collaboration’ with Shchusev.” The exterior of the pavilion, painted in green, refers back to Kabakov’s Red Pavilion (1993), whose vibrant facade and empty interior during the 45th Venice Biennale emphasized the significance of color for Russian postmodernism as well as the concept of emptiness, “like something that hangs in the air,” that was central to the Moscow Conceptualists.
Shchusev’s division of the Russian Pavilion into five discrete spaces prompted Nakhova to revisit her 1980s Rooms series, where the viewer was actively involved in an artistic experiment. Nakhova makes a resolute use of “Supremastist” colors, green, bright red and black; an inventive usage of videos, like for the impressive “pilot’s head” in the room 1; and a surprising manipulation of the pavilion architecture, a cadenced opening of a skylight to establish a rhythmical connection between the different levels of the pavilion and at the same time between visitors, for example, to create a truly immersive, almost physical, experience for the public. Like Kabakov’s for the Biennale to show Russian contemporary art moving from localism to the international art scene, Nakhova’s “The Green Pavilion” again looks outward to the global place of Russian artists in the post-Soviet era.
San Marino Pavilion:
Titled “Friendship Project: Sculpture and Architecture of Art”, the Republic of San Marino pavilion displayed 10 sculptures within the hall of the Ateneo Veneto. The structures are displayed within white fabrics suspended from the ground, with veins engraved into the slabs. Enrico Muscioni and Massimiliano Raggi collaborated with Chinese sculptors Fan Haimin, Fu Yuxiang, Min Yiming, Nie Jingzhu, Wu Wei, Wang Yi, Shen Jingdong, Zhang Hongmei, Zhang Zhaohong, and Zhu Shangxi, and a study group of professors and students of the University of San Marino.
Serbia Pavilion: United Dead Nations
Titled “United Dead Nations”, the installation aims to establish a dialogue on what does the notion of the nation represent in our post-global times by putting in focus the nations that no longer exist as such, but whose ghosts are still conditioning the geo: Austro-Hungarian Empire, Ottoman Empire, Soviet Union, German Democratic Republic, Yugoslavia, etc.. By doing so, the multifaceted spectrum of desires and conflicts, which the notion of nation embodies, is considered and the questions of nature and permanence of today’s nations are being imposed. United Dead Nations recreate an absent political and enable its alternative life in the aesthetic regime of art by opening new representational relations within the field of the visual – the space where social reality is translated into forms and images.
Ivan Grubanov puts the emphasis the process of image making by involving the dead flags as models, means and material during his painting ritual. The artist’s intention lies in the creation of a new symbolical field, which questions the value frameworks of art, at the same time enabling the reestablished authorities of dead nations to continue competing in the domain of the visible. The memory of cultures lost to social and political upheaval in the 20th century. Presumably inspired by the renaming of his home country from Yugoslavia to “Serbia” Grubanov explores the recent history of a nation, from dissolution to inception. Grubanov explores the legacy of recently-dissolved nations, in an installation that brings together their flags. Dirtied and crumpled on top of each other on the pavilion floor, the pile of obsolete national symbols explores the ephemeral nature of identity in the face of political turmoil.
Seychelles Pavilion: A Clockwork Sunset
The Pavilion of Seychelles telling the international community they are more than the picture perfect postcard of sandy beaches, palm trees and turquoise waters. The Seychelles is a rich and complex culture whose stories are being told through their artist. George Camille uses multitudes of thick industrial cables. Each cable is stripped back and the internal wiring is then teased from its dark casing and shaped into leaves. This multi-media work uses materials which have been decommissioned, reclaimed and sourced locally in Seychelles. Leon Wilma Lois Radegonde”s work consistes of weathered canvases, ‘objets trouves’, where he leaves his marks of petroleum stains, sun bleaching and decaying earth, all inscribed, sewn, and seared. To speculate upon one’s future one must understand one’s history. The identity of the Seychelles is being redefined at great speed. The often muted voices of its artists are shedding a new light on the richness and complexity of its culture.
Singapore Pavilion: Sea State
Sea State is a project initiated in 2005 by artist and former Olympic sailor Charles Lim that examines Singapore’s relationship with the sea through filmic, photographic and archival material. When we think of a nation as a physical thing we imagine a land mass. Yet the true border of any country touching the sea is not the edge of the land, but out in the water. The actual border and the imagined border are quite different, especially for an island like Singapore. Sea State makes that border visible. It brings to the fore what is ordinarily kept in the background, the real depths of the sea and our uneasy maritime unconscious.
The project’s structure is inspired by the World Meteorological Organisation’s code for measuring sea conditions, which numbers the varying states ranging from calm, to moderate, to the phenomenal. It seeks to question and re-define Singapore’s understanding of its land and sea borders, and the country’s drive to reclaim control over its environment. Charles Lim’s practice stems from an intimate engagement with the natural world, mediated and informed by field research and experimentation, performance, drawing, photography and video. His works make visible a dynamic coastal ecology, showing how the infrastructures of global capitalism do not replace the maritime environment, but inhabit and transform it. In an era of rapid global exchange, the complex, transnational spaces of the sea play host to a dynamic interplay between nature and culture, framing many of the key anxieties of our time. Embracing a range of media and disciplines, the Singapore Pavilion takes us to places that were until recently only a thing of oneiric theory.
Slovenia Pavilion: UTTER / the violent necessity for the embodied presence of hope
The project titled “UTTER / The violent necessity for the embodied presence of hope”, embraces the very core of Jaša’s aim to create an artwork as both a poetic stance and a dynamic, politicized presence. The work is conceived as a spatial installation and on-site performance that bind the artist, his collaborators and the public together. The project consists of an installation, an architectural drawing activated to become a reflection of thoughts, and a durational performance that expresses the necessity to (re)act as an embodied form. These elements coexist and entwine to form the integral experience of the artwork. The project focuses on three major themes: resistance, collaboration and hope. The energetic stance of each theme was resolved, in part, via a long-term coexistence of a performative body within an architectural shell, the co-creation of repetitive performative actions, and the production of harmonic moments. A polyphonic situation of visual, sound and performance was submitted to a rigorous weekly script.
One of Slovenia’s most prolific and critically recognized contemporary artists, JAŠA is driven by his rhapsodic interpretations of situation, narrative, sculpture and performance. Through his alchemistic connection with material and content, JAŠA transforms spaces into experiences, driving them toward their poetic and ecstatic potentials. In his creation, a site-specific installation, durational performance based on the ideology of togetherness complements his urge to react and formulate a vision of communal experience of art as reality. Considering the demands and ecstasies of repetitive durational performance, the project is a structured act of discipline. It is a call toward collective sensibility. Through continuous repetitive actions, knowledge, gestures and the transfor- mation of these gestures into rituals, the group of performers summon a rebellious force, which by the power of poetry calls upon a pandemic realization of the idea of community and unification.
Spain Pavilion: The Subjects
The Spanish Pavilion explore the Dalí of interviews and words, Dalí the subject. Collective project where Dalí was present as a subject, though not represented by his work. It reveal Dalí through other voices, those of artists who are conceptually linked to him and to each other. Using the sensuality of the persona-subject as its point of departure, the exhibition go on to explore other subjects that also lend themselves to extraordinary interpretations. Homage to “the persistence of memory,” his words and interviews, rather than his oeuvre, inspire three projects within the Spanish Pavilion. Dalí becomes a concept upon which Salazar, Cabello/Carceller, and Ruiz use film, comics, and objects to reinvent the private and public spheres of an icon. As the title of the pavilion suggests, the “subjects” not only reflect social conceptualization of Dalí but also refract the means by which society creates identity.
Cabello/Carceller have designed an artistic proposal that revolves around the idea of multiple identities and the possibility of non-definition. Their performance, film and installation work, rooted in feminist stances and queer theory, offer a critical insight into the definition of identity and the political fight of the individual. The spirit of Dalí also be present in the legendary artist’s own newspaper. At the Spanish Pavilion, Pepo Salazar present a work in keeping with his particular modus operandi, an atomized creation that mixes moments and types and creates a framework in which all options are possible. Like Dalí, Pepo Salazar expands the range of artistic action by flouting conventions and cultivating a profound knowledge of what it means to work in the field of art. Salazar’s project for the pavilion is tied in with Salvador Dalí’s Declaration of the Independence of the Imagination and of the Rights of Man to His Own Madness.
South Africa Pavilion: What Remains Is Tomorrow
The Pavilion of South Afrcia, titled “What remains is tomorrow” present an array of works by artists who are deeply invested in local iterations of power, freedom, and civil liberty. The project wish not only to represent recent, important work from South Africa, but also to set in motion a complex and dynamic debate about the relationship between the contemporary moment and the narratives of the past. The project dose not wanted simply to present works that hold up a mirror to our society, or offer a litany of wrongs and injustices in order to give an international audience a sense of the local zeitgeist. In some area we have engaged the past, individually and together, for example, the public sector, museum design and curatorship, architectural practice, that have obliged us on occasion to inhabit the past.
To explore the path of the future, you have to have a clear understanding and deep thinking about the past. The past of South Afrcia was complicated. They connect us to a conglomeration of relations that not only emerge from the past (from imperialism and colonialism) but also stand somewhat apart from history’s grand narratives that give birth to the notions of nation and state. The artists whose works are presented here venture into this terrain. They take issue with deepseated assumptions about who is in and who is out. They have a sense that there is a narrative of belonging that must be interrogated. “slower’ forms of violence that are eating us from the inside out. Having done so has made us wary of nostalgia, and of the perils of a mythologising, museological approach to history. But even so, we have not abandoned the idea that the past is an important reference, the key to knowing what to do, even if, as humans, we seem unable to learn from our mistakes.
Syrian Arab Republic Pavilion: Origini della civiltà
The exhibition “Origins of Civilization” reiterates its support for the development of a dialogue between free aesthetic expressions that represent the changing, multifarious appearance of the contemporary. In order to respond to this theme, the Pavilion presents the work of artists from Syria Narine Ali, Ehsan Alar, Fouad Dahdouh and Nassouh Zaghlouleh, Italy Aldo Damioli, Mauro Reggio and Andrea Zucchi, China Liu Shuishi, Spain Felipe Cardeña, Albania Helidon Xhixha, and Ukrain Svitlana Grebenyuk, focusing on a stylistic physiognomy that has matured in very different environmental and historical circumstances but able to overcome national boundaries.
Helidon Xhixha also made an iceberg surround by Venice waters, which threaten to submerge by sea tide. Made of stainless steel polished to a mirrored shine, it reflects the city and its watery environment. Xhixha’s Iceberg (2015) bobs along with the motion of the currents and the wind. Such movement, together with the changing light and weather and the streaming by of boats and people, cause the iceberg’s reflective surface to shift as continuously as the world it mirrors. But while these visions delight the eye, this work also serves as a reminder and a warning. It was glacial melting, after all, that formed the patches of land in water upon which Venice was founded. And now, thanks to the rising temperatures wrought by our degradation of the environment, it is glacial melting (among other factors) that threatens to wipe the city and its artistic and historical treasures off the map.
Sweden Pavilion: Lina Selander. Excavation of the Image: Imprint, Shadow, Spectre, Thought
Title “Excavating of the Image: Imprint, Shadow Spectre, Thought.” Selander’s film installations often draw upon historic events, and she uses both essayistic and archaeological approaches to uncover the way private as well as public images define memory or history. Selander present her separate works in a kind of overarching meta-montage, which goes well with the form of the individual works, not least because there are references, themes, even images, they have in common.
All works revolve in one way or another around the status of the image, as representation, memory, object, imprint or surface, and our relationships to it. They examine the official representations of historical events as well as the visual languages and apparatuses that produce them, underlining that history in many respects is the history of recording devices and technologies. Also, the works share a relation to the desires and failures of modernity, for instance through the disasters of Chernobyl and Hiroshima, which are juxtaposed with images of nature, cross-referencing the visual effects of photographic, geological and nuclear processes to create new sedimentations of meaning.
Switzerland Pavilion: Our Product
The immersive installation titled “Our Product”, activates the knowledge mobilized in the technological, scientific and conceptual development of products, subverting the culturally consolidated meanings of art’. The project is composed of immaterial elements such as light, colour, scent, sound and organic components such as hormones and even bacteria. Materials chosed by Pamela Rosenkranz, for example, bionin, evian, necrion, neotene, silicone… People are more familiar to the physical substances which they are actually composed of. however, their apparently pure and timeless aesthetic qualities they emit, have a biological basis. Abeel, Abeen, Aben, Afriam, Afrim, Afristil, Albatom…. are the ingredients of Our Product, imaginary chemical and bio-tech products, created by an hyper-advanced industry to convey sensations, vital functions, even relief to our pains. Their scientific and industrial names are endlessly declaimed.
Rosenkranz isolates the swiss pavilion’s interior spaces with plastics, filling the with a monochrome mass of liquid, the colour is now used in today’s advertising industry as a proven means of physically enhancing attention. The eurocentric skin colour, which is derived from a broader natural history that involves migration, exposure to the sun and nutrition, is contrasted by a green coating that covers the mantle of the building. the external patio is illuminated by artificial green light burring the distinction between the indoors and outdoors; while a wall paint that is biologically attractive, further dissolves this separation between culture and nature.The installation appropriates immemorial aesthetic reflexes that both art and commercial culture rely on, but renders them as cognitively disturbing.
Thailand Pavilion: Earth, Air, Fire & Water
In many classical world views four basic elements are believed to constitute the essential components of which everything consists. Earth, Air, Fire & Water. Tassananchalee’s concept was that regardless of how far the world has progressed and regardless what paths “All the World’s Futures” may take, the basic constituent elements of life are eternal. Having developed the imagry of his concept through mixed media paintings, Tassananchalee morphs his symbols for Earth, Air, Fire & Water into large, hydro and Laser-cut, stainless steel, aluminium & neon light sculpture. Light and shadow play a central roll in these works. Illuminated with ambient and tinted, shaped, neon lights, the laser and hydro-cut compositions of elemental symbols are irradiated in the metal plates projected and cast. The large Sculptures, presented in the Thai National Pavilion are metaphors for Time and the World. The classical elements relate to ancient philosophical concepts which today are generally compared to the contemporary “states of matter”. The solid state, gaseous state, plasma and liquid state.
Turkey Pavilion: Respiro
The exhibition, titled “Respiro” (meaning “breath” in Italian), fills the Arsenale’s Sale d’Armi with multimedia works that use the universally-recognized symbol of a rainbow to explore concepts of transformation and shared human experience. Two large-scale, site-specific neon rainbows, made from fragile, wavering lines of color—light a series of 36 stained glass panes that depict imagery related to nature, spirituality, and the sublime. “Respiro reaching out beyond geopolitics, to a more expansive context of a million plus years, going back to the creation of the universe and the beginning of time, back to the first-ever rainbow, the very first magical breaking point of light. A meditative soundscape, arranged by Jacopo Baboni-Schilingi and inspired by a drawing by Sarkis illustrating the colors of the rainbow as a “system of partitions,” play over the installation, day and night.
Tuvalu Pavilion: Crossing the Tide
Titled “Crossing the Tide”, eflects on the plea of small island nations facing the effects of global climate change. This is manifested by rising sea levels and increasing severe storms causing floods, and ultimately threatens the future of these small island nations such as Tuvalu, located in the Pacific Ocean. The project features a flooded pavilion. It connects the flooding of the Tuvalu to the flooding of Venice. Crossing the tide in the Tuvalu Pavilion over slightly submerged footbridges, visitors find themselves in an imaginary space, a dreamscape, consisting only of sky and water.
The Tuvalu Pavilion represents a natural environment, but one that is essentially manmade and is the work of the Chinese Taiwan artist Vincent J.F. Huang. The project reveals a world consisting only of sky and water. The first chapter of the ancient Chinese book of Zhuangzi, “Free and Easy Wandering,” describes such a world in the story of a giant fish named Kun who changes into a massive bird named Peng. When Peng beats his wings, the sea roils. Peng rises to enormous height. The sky is blue, and when the bird looks down, all is blue too. The book of Zhuangzi is one of the foundation texts of Daoist philosophy. It considers ways for mankind to achieve happiness and freedom by living in harmony with the natural world, and to become “free and easy wandering.” But the truth is that we are no longer living in accordance with nature, and instead we are facing many environmental disasters.
Ukraine Pavilion: Hope!
Titled “Hope!”, UkrainePavilion optimistic statement about the future of this unsteady country in the throes of an internal political struggle. This optimism, however, and the dramatic transparency of the glass pavilion structure, are problematized by the moral nuance present in the works displayed within. By highlighting the work of young artists, reveal a critical and non-partisan attitude to the conflict while being marked by a deep personal commitment and solidarity with Ukraine. Rather than letting ideology drive the narrative, the Ukrainian pavilion mobilizes art as a critical force, introducing a radical thoughtfulness to a nation consumed by reaction.
United Arab Emirates Pavilion: 1980 – Today: Exhibitions in the United Arab Emirates
The pavilion of the United Arab Emirates reaches back to feature 100 paintings, sculptures, photos, and other art objects created over the past four decades by 15 Emirati artists. Hassan Sharif appropriated and made his own tropes, concepts, and materials from the Fluxus and British Constructionism movements. The works make ample use of colorful commercial plastic and other found objects. Al Saadi’s sculptures shaped like animals, the sculptures here are crafted from wood and animal bones he found on his journeys through the UAE. His colorful necklaces in an adjacent vitrine use wood, bone, shards of pottery, and commercial plastics. Mohammed Abdullah Bulhiah’s sculptures of metal, rock, and wood, several of which recall the elegant simplicity. All are installed in the 250-square-meter space as a crowded collection of works in conversation with one another, rather than in didactic chronology.
United States Of America Pavilion: Joan Jonas: They Come to Us Without a Word
The installation titled “they come to us without a word”, by pioneering video and performance artist joan jonas, which seeks to evoke the fragility of nature within a rapidly changing situation through a video installation which includes drawings and sculptural elements. Partially influenced by the writings of icelandic author halldór laxness and his poetic depiction of the natural world, each of the US pavilion’s galleries deals with a specific subject related to nature, such as bees or fish, and are linked via fragments of ghost stories sourced from an oral tradition in cape breton, nova scotia, forming a nonlinear narrative linking one gallery to the next. In each room, two video projections stand in dialogue with one another, one that represents the main motif of the space, and the other as the ghost narrative, creating a continuous visual thread running throughout.
Free-standing rippled mirrors conceived by jonas and handcrafted in murano specifically for this exhibition, are placed within each room; alongside the artist’s distinctive drawings and kites, and a curated selection of objects that were used as props in her videos. this organization of different elements creates the sense of a stage set. The pavilion’s rotunda is also lined by similar mirrors, with old venetian crystal beads hang from a chandelier-like structure suspended from the middle of the ceiling. The overall atmosphere reflects the viewer and the exterior of the US pavilion’s context within the giardini pubblici, intersected by moving images. The project involves the question of how the world is so rapidly and radically changing, but do not address the subject directly or didactically, the ideas are implied poetically through sound, lighting, and the juxtaposition of images of children, animals, and landscape.
Uruguay Pavilion: Global Myopia II (Pencil & Paper)
Titled “Global Myopia” (pencil & paper), a site-specific installation of paper, stickers and pencils. Marco Maggi’s drawings, sculptures and installations encode the world. Composed of linear patterns that suggest circuit boards, aerial views of impossible cities, genetic engineering or nervous systems, his drawings are a thesaurus of the infinitesimal and the undecipherable. Marco Maggi’s abstract language refers to the way information is processed in a global era, and his work challenges the notion of drawing itself. The diminutive papers are disseminated or connected following the specific traffic rules and syntax dictated by any accumulation of sediments.
A paper skin with no letters, or handwriting, free from messages, displayed slowly, according to no previous plan, on the walls of the Uruguayan pavilion. The colonies of paper sticker on the walls enter in dialogue with a custom lighting track provided by Erco. Myriads of high-definition shadows and infinitesimal incandescent projections aim to slow down the viewer. The project divides the act of drawing in two stages. First, by cutting an alphabet of 10,000 elements during the course of 2014 in New York, and second by using the precut elements to write on the pavilion walls during the Spring of 2015. In the same way, the project separates the two key elements of drawing, pencil and paper, into two spaces—paper drawings in the main space and an installation of pencils in the first room.
Zimbabwe Pavilion: Pixels of Ubuntu/Unhu: Exploring all the different facets of social, physical and cultural identities of our contemporary societies from the past, present and future
Titled “Pixels of Ubuntu/Unhu”, Exploring the social and cultural identities of the 21st century. When works or art are created they take on new meanings that keep the concept growing. The works in the exhibition are unified by a light touch and almost minimal feel, with white being the dominant background and “graphic’ being the dominant style for most of the works, together, they bring us rumination and musing on the foibles of life with a small “l’ and the consciousness of life with a capital “L,’ which is so much of Zimbabwean philosophy, underscored by Ubuntu in the title of the pavilion. Zimbabwe pavilion charts a path of stability and self-determination, which is a paradigm for its future and a thoughtful contribution to “All The World’s Futures.’
Msimba Hwati’s ten piece series makes all visitors appreciate who we are in this life. Each a black and white rendition of a photograph, the only colour and difference in each piece being delivered by a branded circle patch, a tongue in cheek allusion to both the history of portraiture and the loss of individualism in the age of branding, social media and technology. Chazunguza’s “The Presence of the Past’ is an oscillation between video in one room and print-based work in the other, each providing us with dramatised vignettes of Zimbabwean life. Nyandoro’s canvases that have broken, drawings that become paintings and paintings that become installations. The work is both a response to a present, which defies any measure of normalcy or convention and a quest to invent a future, which can offer hope without demanding compliance with convention.
001 Inverso Mundus. AES+F
Magazzino del Sale n. 5, Dorsoduro, Organization: VITRARIA Glass + A Museum
The medieval engraving Inverso Mundus depicts a pig gutting the butcher, a child punishing its teacher, a man carrying a donkey on his back, men and women exchanging roles and costumes, and a beggar in rags majestically giving alms to a rich man. In this engraving there are demons, chimeras, fish flying through the sky, and death itself, either with a scythe, or behind the mask of Doctor Plague.
In our interpretation of Inverso Mundus, absurd scenes of the medieval carnival appear as episodes of contemporary life. Characters act out scenes of absurd social utopias, changing their own masks. Metrosexual cleaners shower the city with debris. Women-inquisitors torture men on IKEA-style devices. Children and seniors are locked in a kickboxing match. Inverso Mundus is a world where chimeras are pets and the Apocalypse entertainment.
Catalonia in Venice: Singularity
Cantieri Navali, Organization: Institut Ramon Llull
If today Raymond Williams were to decide on more entries for his celebrated text Keywords, he would surely include “singularity.” The term refers to the moment when artificial intelligences surpass human capacity and human control. In mathematics it describes a point at which a given mathematical object is not defined or “well-behaved,” for example, infinite or not differentiable.
The filmmaker Albert Serra Juanola takes this notion as a point of departure in his new film. Serra’s cinema makes the statement that being aware of the world is not simply a result of the mind’s existence, but rather it is the mind in action. To link cinema with the singularity condition means to foster belief in the notion that thought, will, and imagination are not made of the same substance as the world, objects, and things, but of images, feelings, and ideas.
Conversion. Recycle Group
Chiesa di Sant’Antonin, Organization: Moscow Museum of Modern Art
This site-specific installation proposes that the globalization of information networks and the cult of new technologies are in some ways comparable to the historic conversion to Christianity. The Recycle Group frequently turns to history to illustrate topical issues and shocking aspects of contemporary lifestyle.
Their sculptures and bas-reliefs in modern materials frequently take on the appearance of ancient monuments that display the ravages of time, like artifacts from some lost civilization. Although the forms and compositions of this project are influenced by traditional Christian iconography, they introduce contemporary motifs. Conversion proposes a parallel between the Christian enlightenment and the digital technological revolution where sacred knowledge formerly residing in the heavens is now located in the intangible space of “The Cloud.
Gervasuti Foundation Foundamentalis, Organization: Gervasuti Foundation
An exhibition that is the result of Italian artist Giorgia Severi’s one-and-a-half-year stay in the Australian territories, in direct contact with the indigenous artist community. Her journey involved various stopovers in art spaces throughout the continent. Country is a melting pot of different cultures, its works an investigation into memory and tradition.
Deploying an array of media from handcrafts to sound art, we are invited to contemplate the volatile equilibrium between Humans and Nature.
Palazzo Contarini-Polignac, Organization: The Boghossian Foundation
Dansaekhwa describes a Korean art form and movement that arose in the early 1970s and continued through the ’80s. Although Dansaekhwa can be understood as sharing similarities with Western monochrome art and minimalism, it is distinct from both in terms of its historical background, aesthetic practice, and underlying social criticism.
Dansaekhwa articulates a painterly flexibility and affinity by removing the excess of color. Brushing, plucking, scratching at paint, and pushing oil paints through the back of the canvas is a physical act, appearing as an element and important performance of the production process, and making painting unpredictable. The background of Dansaekhwa is seminal elements considering constantly changing aesthetic values and the ongoing history of activism and political critique reflecting social phenomena.
Palazzo Donà Brusa, Organization: European Capital of Culture Wroclaw 2016
Organized by the city of Wroclaw, the 2016 European Capital of Culture, the exhibition takes as its departure point the city’s post- War history of displacements. Stemming from this historical context, it explores contemporary dimensions of displacements, of loss of home and seeking a refuge in a new, often hostile, foreign place.
Artists from Poland, Ukraine, and Germany are guided by the recognition of a universal and atemporal dimension of dispossession and its psychological and material manifestations. Dispossession, pertaining to both deprivation and exorcism, hints at a distinction between “our,” “one’s own,” and an unwelcomed “other.” It is in this loss and desire for belonging that we analyze a complex relationship between space and identity.
EM15 presents Doug Fishbone’s Leisure Land Golf
Arsenale Docks, Organization: EM15
The Leisure Principle is the curatorial theme driving EM15’s premiere presentation at la Biennale and manifests through two newly commissioned artistic outputs: Doug Fishbone’s Leisure Land Golf, a fully playable, artist-designed miniature golf course which visitors are invited to play, and Sunscreen (www.sun-screen.uk), an online project which explores the blurred space that exists between work and leisure.
The Leisure Principle considers the concept of tourism and trade as a metaphor to explore current global economic complexities through one of the defining principles of leisure—that of consumption and how this consumption shapes our identity. EM15 is a collective from the East Midlands, UK, and comprises Beacon Art Project, One Thoresby Street, QUAD, and New Art Exchange in association with Nottingham Trent University.
Eredità e Sperimentazione
Grand Hotel Hungaria & Ausonia, Organization: Istituto Nazionale di BioArchitettura – Sezione di Padova
This event develops through the representation of a decorative process created by the English artist Joe Tilson involving an undecorated facade of the Art Nouveau building of the Grande Hotel Ausonia & Hungaria on the Venice Lido.
There is a day vision with material and three-dimensional instruments and a night vision with video media instruments. Night vision: a multimedia representation with a projection of the proposed decoration for a facade of the hotel. Day vision: two didactic exhibitions with pieces built to scale. Outside, in the garden, there is a 12-square-meter structure with Murano glass tiles and structural support, the prototype of the coating that was put in place on the wall. Next to the lobby of the hotel, in the historic Meeting Hall, there is an exhibition of historical documents, sketches, paintings by the artist, and plans.
Museo di Palazzo Grimani, Organization: Tagore Foundation International
The phenomenon of globalization, where cultures are colliding and melding as never before, offers rich and complex sources of inspiration for artists. Frontiers Reimagined examines the results of these cultural entanglements through the work of forty-four painters, sculptors, photographers, and installation artists who are exploring the notion of cultural boundaries.
These emerging and established artists—who come from a vast geographical landscape stretching from the West to Asia to Africa—share a truly global perspective, both in their physical existence, living and working between cultures, and their artistic endeavors. Each demonstrates the intellectual and aesthetic richness that emerges when artists engage in intercultural dialogue.
Fondazione Berengo, Organization: The State Hermitage Museum
The exhibition presents contemporary art works made in glass, all with a Gothic theme, by over fifty invited artists from more than twenty countries who have created works with the glass maestros of Murano. These works are juxtaposed with medieval glass artifacts chosen from the permanent collection of The State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, one of the oldest and most celebrated museums in the world.
Glasstress Gotika explores how medieval ideas have imperceptibly crept into the modern consciousness despite all the technological advances of today’s society and how the Gothic concept informs contemporary art.
Graham Fagen: Scotland + Venice 2015
Palazzo Fontana, Organization: Scotland + Venice
The ambition of Fagen’s work and the complexity of his vocabulary positions him as one of the most influential artists working in Scotland today. He draws on a fascination for poetry, specific musical forms, and theatrical artifice in order to focus on ideas of the national, social, and political.
Working with writers, theater directors, musicians, and composers enables him to draw on expertise, knowledge, and specialisms outside of his own. In this new work, contributions from classical composer Sally Beamish, reggae singer and musician Ghetto Priest, and music producerAdrian Sherwood are clearly embedded, yet Fagen’s authorship is never distracted or eroded. Fagen’s installation draws the viewer on a journey, a choreographed route.
Grisha Bruskin. An Archaeologist’s Collection
Former Chiesa di Santa Caterina, Organization: Centro Studi sulle Arti della Russia (CSAR), Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia
A journey to the future among the ruins of the Soviet Empire. A large installation of thirty- three sculptures that emerge from archaeological excavations inside an ancient church. They are the pseudoartifacts of a recent, perished civilization.
For this project, Bruskin uses characters from his painting Fundamental’nyi leksikon (1985–1986), a collection of archetypes from the USSR. He reproduces the figures life-size, then destroys the sculptures, gathers the fragments, and casts them in bronze. He then buries them in Tuscany for three years alongside the already buried ruins of the Roman Empire. He finally digs them out, and now the statues emerge from the cloudy waters in which Venice lies. Various perished empires meet in the present.
The Venice Art Biennale, a contemporary visual art exhibition, is so called as it is held biennially, in odd-numbered years; is the original biennale on which others elsewhere in the world are modeled. The Biennale Foundation has a continuous existence supporting the arts, as well as organizing the following separate events:
La Biennale di Venezia was founded in 1895. Paolo Baratta has been its President since 2008, and before that from 1998 to 2001. La Biennale, who stands at the forefront of research and promotion of new contemporary art trends, organizes exhibitions, festivals and researches in all its specific sectors: Arts (1895), Architecture (1980), Cinema (1932), Dance (1999), Music (1930), and Theatre (1934). Its activities are documented at the Historical Archives of Contemporary Arts (ASAC) that recently has been completely renovated.
This exhibition model has led to a pluralism of expressions: in order to accommodate them, the exhibition spaces have grown for strategic needs, including an ambitious restoration of the Arsenale area which is still going on. The Biennale Arte has been recognised as the world leader in contemporary art exhibitions, and the participating countries have increased from 59 (in 1999) to 89 in 2015. The Biennale Architettura has also been recognised as the best in the world.
The relationship with the local community has been strengthened through Educational activities and guided visits, with the participation of a growing number of schools from the Veneto region and beyond. This spreads the creativity on the new generation (3,000 teachers and 30,000 pupils involved in 2014). These activities have been supported by the Venice Chamber of Commerce. A cooperation with Universities and research institutes making special tours and stays at the exhibitions has also been established. In the three years from 2012-2014, 227 universities (79 Italian and 148 international) have joined the Biennale Sessions project.
In all sectors there have been more research and production opportunities addressed to the younger generation of artists, directly in contact with renowned teachers; this has become more systematic and continuous through the international project Biennale College, now running in the Dance, Theatre, Music, and Cinema sections.