Vital life, Azerbaijan Pavilion, Venice Biennale 2015

Azerbaijan opened its pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale – International Art Exhibition with two exhibitions. Noting that the idea of the exhibition “Vita Vitale” in Venice is closely linked to the nature of this conservation, the importance of showing the environmental problems we faced, that is to say, the language of art.

Vital life examines the delicate balance of our planet’s ecosystem and the human impact on the natural world. It brings together contemporary artists from Austria, Canada, France, Italy, The Netherlands, Pakistan, Romania, Switzerland, UK, USA, Uzbekistan, and Azerbaijan — a presentation spanning the borders of language, cultural heritage, and geography — to raise awareness about our environment and the global transformation of the planet through human activity.

The exhibition motivates us to reflect on our own integral roles in both the disruption and preservation of the ecology, asking us to confront the potential dangers of ignoring the messages that their works convey, while simultaneously suggesting creative tools and ideas for securing all the world’s futures.

Azerbaijan’s participation in the 56 th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia 2015 is commissioned by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation. For Biennale Arte 2015 , Azerbaijan presents two exhibitions for international audiences that celebrate the voices of artists addressing complex and pressing questions that affect us globally. While Beyond the Line reconsiders the country’s past, Vital life looks to Azerbaijan’s future, and beyond its geographic borders, to spotlight the artists and scientists confronting the ecological challenges we face globally.

The naturalist Sir David Attenborough once declared that humans were a plague on the Earth, depleting their own resources and those of other species, thereby threatening their own existence. Vital life unites an international group of contemporary artists galvanized by this threat.

From the grandly-proportioned rooms of a 13 th-century palazzo overlooking Venice’s Grand Canal – itself the bearer of the human footprint’s heavy weight – their multimedia works and installations explore the consequences of plastic pollutants, consumerism, climate change, dwindling resources, deteriorating land and seascapes, rising sea levels, and endangered species . From aerial shots of the increasingly arid Texas Panhandle to a futuristic wasteland built upon the excesses of the financial market; from photographs of flip-flops washed up on the beaches of Wales to sculptures of barnacle-encrusted reefs inspired by the urbanization of the Galapagos Islands, Vital lifenavigate the delicate balance between our planet’s ecosystem and our impact on the natural world. At the same time, works such as a gilded swarm of bees, an idyllic animation of an apple tree, and sculptures of olive trees celebrate our interdependency on the Earth and its species.

The exhibition’s Laboratory, hosted by IDEA (International Dialogue for Environmental Action), further reinforces our connection to our environment, especially Vital life ‘s own immediate environment. Located only a few steps from the Grand Canal, and drawing inspiration from Venice’s ecological concerns, the IDEA Laboratory convenes scientists, artists, and designers to spark dialogue about synthesising our technological capabilities and our living realm.

At a time when the human race increasingly consumes and jettisons natural resources and manmade products, the collective voices of Vital life ‘s artists and scientists resonate throughout Ca’Garzoni.The challenge us to confront the potential dangers of ignoring the messages that Vital life conveys , while simultaneously suggesting creative tools and ideas for securing ‘all the world’s futures.’

Exhibiting Artists: Edward Burtynsky, Mircea Cantor, Loris Cecchini, Gordon Cheung, Khalil Chishtee, Tony Cragg, Laura Ford, Noémie Goudal, Siobhán Hapaska, Paul Huxley, IDEA Laboratory and Leyla Aliyeva, Chris Jordan with Rebecca Clark and Helena S.Eitel, Tania Kovats, Aida Mahmudova, Sayyora Muin, Jacco Olivier, Julian Opie, Julian Perry, Mike Perry, Bas Princen, Stephanie Quayle, Ugo Rondinone, Graham Stevens, Diana Thater, Andy Warhol, Bill Woodrow, Erwin Wurm, Rose Wylie.

Scientific Curator for the IDEA Laboratory: Rachel Armstrong, Professor of Experimental Architecture, Newcastle University and 2010 Senior TED Fellow; featuring ecoLogic Studio, Julian Melchiorri, Mike Perry, and Studio Swine.

Art describes fate of Earth
Following, the opening of the exhibition “Vital life” was held. The exhibition, jointly presented by the Foundation and IDEA, gathered the works of artists from different countries, which expressed concern for the fate of the planet.

“Vita Vitale” includes works by artists from Azerbaijan, USA, Austria, Great Britain, Canada, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Switzerland and Uzbekistan. Thus, the exhibition presents works by Edward Burtynsky, Mircea Cantor, Loris Cecchini, Tony Cragg, Laura Ford, Leyla Aliyeva, Aida Mahmudova, Andy Warhol and other famous artists.

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The exhibition expresses the views of artists struggling with environmental problems. It highlights artists’ refelctions associated with social and environmental issues that define the past, present and future of not only Azerbaijan but also the entire planet.

Laboratory IDEA
Laboratory IDEA, which fully meets the ideas of the exhibition “Vital life”, is a space for ambitious and long-term projects aimed at building our future relations with nature. Encouraging ongoing research, this space contributes to a number of important initiatives.

Multimedia works and installations by international artists — including Mircea Cantor, Loris Cecchini, Tony Cragg, Jacco Olivier, Julian Opie, Graham Stevens, Diana Thater, and Andy Warhol— the IDEA Laboratory, a site for developing imaginative solutions for future life, and the accompanying salon programme draw links between cutting-edge research in science and art, powerfully demonstrating how technological progress has resulted in a natural world beset by deforestation, burning fossil fuels, and ocean pollution.

Informing about the activities led by the IDEA and its ongoing projects, Aliyeva also spoke about the measures taken to preserve Azerbaijan’s ecological balance.

Life, Leyla Aliyeva, 2014,
IDEA Laboratory,
Penguins, Laura Ford, 2012,
Rosace, Mircea Cantor, 2007,
Waterbones, Loris Cecchini, 2014,
Cascade, Noémie Goudal, 2009,
No title, Mircea Cantor, 2004,
A great miracle needs to happen there, Siobhán Hapaska, Olive trees ‘Olea europaea’, lead free solder, brassm steel, cast iron. 9 elements., 2011,
One after the other, Khalil Christee, 2014,
Rockswarm, Bill Woodrow, 2011,
Roundup, Chris Jordan, 2015,
Silent Sping, Chis Jordan and Rebecca Clark, 2014,
Grammaire Wittgensteinienne de la Culture Physique, Erwin Wurm, 2013,
Reservoir II, Noémie Goudal, 2014,
Untitled (Butterfly Videowall 2), Diana Thater, 2008,
Reef 1, Tania Kovats, 2014,
Mor Plasting, Flip Flop & Shoes x14, Mike Perry, 2015,
Flip Flop #29, Playa Santa Maria, Mike Perry, 2014,
Jenga, Stephanie Quayle, 2015,
Benacre Birch I, III, Julian Perry, 2015,
Benacre Tree, Julian Perry, 2015,
Where do we come from? Where are we going?, Paul Huxley, 2015,
Listened to the silence of the lost sea, Sayyora Muin, 2011.

Azerbaijan Venice Biennale 2015
Venice Biennale is an event eagerly awaited by all workers and art lovers. It is considered the most prestigious and representative exhibition and action in the modern art world.

Azerbaijan’s second participation in the 56th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia, supported by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation. For Biennale Arte 2015, Azerbaijan presents two exhibitions for international audiences that celebrate the voices of artists addressing social, political, and ecological questions of global relevance.

de Pury de Pury and Emin Mammadov curate the first exhibition, Beyond the Line, which spotlights the resilient spirit of artists whose lives and work were overshadowed by the repressive Soviet regime of the mid 20th century.

Susie Allen, Laura Culpan, and Dea Vanagan of Artwise curate the second exhibition, Vital life, in which Azerbaijan brings together international contemporary artists whose work expresses concerns about our planet’s destiny. When viewed jointly, 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 Vital life, 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.