GRIOT Guide To The Venice Biennale | European Pavilions

After being postponed for a year due to the ongoing pandemic, the 59th edition of the International Art Exhibition in Venice opens to the public form April 23 to November 27, 2022. Titled The Milk of Dreams and directed by Italian curator Cecilia Alemani, this edition will see the participation of more than 200 artists. It focuses on three themes: the representation of bodies and their metamorphoses; the relationship between individuals and technologies; the connection between bodies and the Earth.

by GRIOT - Published on 21/03/2022
Sonia Boyce, In the Castle Of My Skin, 2021. Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art Middlesbrough, UK ©Sonia Boyce. All Rights Reserved, DACS/Artimage 2021 Photo: Rachel Deakin

ALBANIA – Lumturie Blloshmi. From scratch

Curator: Adela Demetja
Artist: Lumturi Blloshmi (1944 – 2020)
Location: Arsenale

Albania will present a solo exhibition by Lumturi Blloshmi, an artist famous for his performances and installations with an often ironic and satirical tone; the curator Adela Demetja has chosen a selection of works dating from the 1960s to around 2010, including self-portraits, paintings and photographs that speak of the artist and at the same time of the context in which they were made.

AUSTRIA – Invitation of the Soft Machine and Her Angry Body Parts

Curator: Karola Kraus
Artist: Jakob Lena Knebl, Ashley Hans Scheirl
Location: Giardini

The Austrian pavilion will be enlivened by the artistic duo Jakob Lena Knebl and Ashley Hans Scheirl, who have already collaborated on several occasions and whose works are intertwined with art, performance, architecture, design and fashion. The duo anticipated that the structure of the exhibition challenges the idea of an exhibition and it will be divided into two halves, each dedicated to each of them; they will present three-dimensional multimedia installations, “a journey towards utopian spheres”.

BELGIUM – The Nature of the Game

Curator: Hilde Teerlinck
Artist: Francis Alÿs (Anvers, 1959)
Location: Giardini

Francis Alÿs is not a new name at the Biennale: some of his films and videos have been exhibited in the editions of 1999, 2001, 2007 and 2017. Also in this edition his work will address socio-political and historical issues starting from his video Children’s Games # 19: Haram Soccer (2017): Alÿs documented some boys on the Iraq-Syrian border playing football, a sport that is prohibited in the state. 

BULGARIA – There You Are

Curator: Irina Batkova;
Artist: Michail Michailov (Veliko Tarnovo, 1978)
Location: Spazio Ravà, San Polo 1100

The artist chosen to represent Bulgaria is Mikhail Michailov, of Bulgarian origin, a member of the Viennese collective Gelitin.

CROATIA – Untitled (Croatian Pavilion)

Curator: Elena Filipovic
Artist: Tomo Savić-Gecan (Zagreb, 1967)
Location: via Garibaldi 1513, Castello

Tomo Savić-Gecan is a conceptual artist. His artistic practice revolves around the action of not exhibiting anything as he has asserted: his projects start from the concept of a clean slate, with all its potential and tensions; space is his canvas. The concept of his work is also underlined by the title chosen for the pavilion.

DENMARK – We Walked the Earth

Curator: Jacob Lillemose
Artist: Uffe Isolotto (Denmark, 1976)
Location: Giardini

ESTONIA – Orchidelirium: An Appetite for Abundance

Curator: Corina L. Apostol
Artist: Kristina Norman, Bita Razavi
Location: Giardini

Estonia comes into play with a collaborative project between Kristina Norman and Bita Razavi. The two conceived an “eco-critical” exhibition, halfway between science, history and aesthetics: it is an immersive environment that, starting from botany, explores the history of colonial ecological exploitation.

FINLAND (Aalto) – Close Watch

Curator: Christina Li
Artist: Pilvi Takala (Helsinki, 1981)
Location: Giardini

Performer and video artist Pilvi Takala will represent Finland in the historic pavilion designed by Alvar Aalto. Close Watch is a video installation that explores the concepts of public space, rules and human behavior.

FRANCELes rêves nont pas de titre / Dreams have no titles

Curator: Yasmina Reggad, Sam Bardaouil e Till Fellrath
Artist: Zineb Sedira (Paris, 1963)
Location: Giardini

Zineb Sedira is the first French artist of Algerian descent to represent France at the Venice Biennale. Les rêves n’ont pas de titre is the title of a video installation that, starting from the cinema—in particular from the cinematographic co-productions of the Sixties between Algeria, France and Italy (including the film found by Zineb Sedira: Le mani libre by Ennio Lorenzini , 1964)—presents an autobiographical and political journey that speaks of decolonization, identity and freedom.

GERMANY

Curator: Yilmaz Dziewior
Artist: Maria Eichhorn (Bamberg, 1962)
Location: Giardini

Maria Eichhorn revealed that her work for this Biennale “is accessible, it can be experienced both conceptually and on site, physically and in motion”. Her work will start from the dialogue with the architecture and the history of the pavilion which mirrored the history of Germany and represented for artists, especially from the second post-war period onwards, a stimulus for ever new reflections. Curator Yilmaz Dziewior said: “Few artists address Germany’s historic past and its impact on the present in the incisive and effective way of Maria Eichhorn.

GREAT BRITAINSonia Boyce: Feeling Her Way

Curator: Emma Ridgway
Artist: Sonia Boyce (London, 1962)
Location: Giardini

Artist and professor Sonia Boyce is presenting a new multi-media installation comprising video, sound, wallpaper and sculptural objects, throughout the galleries of the British Pavilion. The new work will show the vitality of collaborative play leading to artistic innovation, a central tenet of Boyce’s practice, as well as the importance of taking intuitive creative risks. Boyce is also known for her drawings, photographs and paintings depicting Afro-Caribbean Black subjects.

LUXEMBOURG – Faraway So Close

Curator: Christophe Gallois, Mudam Luxembourg;
Artist: Tina Gillen (Luxemburg, 1972)
Location: Arsenale

Tina Gillen’s exhibition Faraway So Close is intended as a tableau vivant that reflects on the relationship between inner space and the outside world. It takes form within a specially conceived exhibition design inspired by painted film sets and explores many of the themes running through Gillen’s work, including architecture, landscape and the relationship between abstraction and figuration. It will also inaugurate new site-specific paintings and other works conceived in dialogue with the historic setting of the Sale d’Armi in the Arsenale. The exhibition is accompanied by a research project entitled Forms of Life, including monthly seminars at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp, where Gillen teaches painting, and a workshop in Venice during the Biennale.

GREECE – Oedipus In Search of Colonus

Curator: Heinz Peter Schwerfel
Artist: Loukia Alavanou (Athens, 1979)
Location: Giardini

Loukia Alavanou’s installation Oedipus in Search of Colonus is a 15 min film that transposes Sophocles’ almost 2500-year-old drama, Oedipus at Colonus (406 b.C.), into the present and tells the story through a combination of docufiction, video clips, farce, and the latest VR technology. In Alavanou’s version, which is filmed in a shantytown inhabited by Roma, an off-screen chorus tells the story. All the roles are played by Roma, amateur actors who lend the narrative a grotesque quality through their exaggerated acting. Inside the neoclassical architecture of the Greek pavilion, Loukia Alavanou is building hemispherical domes, in which there is space for three to five posture chairs based on the designs of the Greek utopian architect Takis Zenetos, who died in 1970.

IRELAND – Gather

Curator: Temple Bar Gallery + Studios
Artist: Niamh O’Malley (County Mayo, 1975)
Location: Arsenale

Artist Niamh O’Malley exhibits sculptures composed and assembled with stone, steel, wood and glass in her studio in Dublin. To do so, to make solid and visible is a particular compulsion of O’Malley’s, a silent but physical response to a precarious time. She is interested in negotiating between the surfaces of the world, how objects and spaces can speak, and how an exhibition can somehow anchor, contain and describe distance.

ICELAND – Perpetual Motion

Curator: Mónica Bello
Artist: Sigurdur Gudjonsson (Reykjavík, 1975)
Location: Arsenale

Gudjonsson works with moving imagery, sounds and installations and creates immersive and synesthetic works, real sensorial experiences on the theme of artificial construction and machinery. Curator Monica Bello said: “[S.J.] in his work succeeds to expose what hides behind lenses, optical instrumentation and scientific devices, revealing the richness and elegance of matter.”

ITALYStoria della notte e destino delle comete

Curator: Eugenio Viola
Artist: Gian Maria Tosatti (Roma, 1980)
Location: Giardini

In this edition, Italy will be represented for the first time by a single artist, Gian Maria Tosatti, who has designed an immersive experience installation: a journey through the history of Italy from the second post-war era onwards, a reinterpretation of current events that starts from the past and is projected into the future.

KOSOVO  – The Monumentality of the Everyday

Curator: Inke Arns
Artist: Jakup Ferri (Priština, 1981)
Location: Arsenale

Jakup Ferri will exhibit paintings, embroideries and tapestries in a large installation in the Kosovo pavilion. The textile works, designed by the artist, are made by women from Albania, Kosovo, Burkina Faso and Suriname. For his works, Ferri draws inspiration by microorganisms seen under the microscope and by the pixelated drawings of some video games.

LATVIASelling Water by the River

Curator: Solvita Krese e Andra Silapētere
Artists: Skuja Braden (Ingūna Skuja, 1965 and Melissa D. Braden, 1968)
Location: Arsenale

Skuja Braden is an artistic collaboration between Ingūna Skuja from Latvia, and Melissa D. Braden from California. The two artists present a multilayered installation that maps the mental, physical, and spiritual areas within the artists’ home, through sculptures and painted porcelain objects, typical of their production; “Skuja Braden’s exhibition, expanding the concept of home, includes an entire anatomy of the spaces in which we live together […] as well as areas where our daily activities take on a ritual significance [… ]”.

LITHUANIA – Gut Feeling

Curator: Neringa Bumblienė
Artist: Robertas Narkus (Lithuania, 1983)
Location: Castello 3200 and 3206, Campo de le Gate

Gut Feeling describes a certain sense of intuition, a hunch which, according to a half-forgotten folklore and the latest scientific discoveries, closely links the activities of the gut with the brain. In collaboration with a renowned fermentation specialist, scientists, fellow artists, local residents and small businesses, Narkus has created a social sculpture in one of the last remaining non-gentrified Venetian squares in the Castello district – a surrealist cooperative producing a mysterious product made from a seaweed harvested from local waters. Robertas Narkus’s work aims at suggesting solutions to the imminent nutritional problems of the Earth’s rapidly growing population.

NORTH MACEDONIA – Landscape experience

Curators: Ana Frangovska, Sanja Kojic Mladenov
Artists: Robert Jankuloski, Monika Moteska
Location: Scuola dei Laneri, Santa Croce 113/A

Landscape experience is a multimedia installation composed of video projections, photographs and objects; the central theme is the destructive experience of man on the planet.

MALTADiplomazija Astuta/Astute Diplomacy

Curators: Keith Sciberras, Jeffrey Uslip
Artists: Arcangelo Sassolino, Giuseppe Schembri Bonaci, Brian Schembri
Location: Arsenale

Malta participates at the Biennale with a sculptural installation, a modern reinterpretation of the painting “Beheading of St. John the Baptist“, the work of Caravaggio created during his stay in Malta (1608).

MONTENEGROThe Art Of Holding Hands as we break through the sedimentary cloud

Curator: Natalija Vujošević
Artists: Dante Buu, Lidija Delić & Ivan Šuković, Darko Vučković, Jelena Tomašević, Art Collection of Non-Aligned Countries (Zuzana Chalupova, Rene Portocarrero, unknown author from Iraq and Bernard Matemera)
Location: Palazzo Malipiero, San Marco 3078-3079/A, Ramo Malipiero

THE NETHERLANDS – When the body says Yes

Curators: Orlando Maaike Gouwenberg, Geir Haraldseth, Soraya Pol
Artist: melanie bonajo (Heerlen, 1978)
Location: Chiesetta della Misericordia of Art Events, Cannaregio

When the body says Yes’ is a new immersive video installation part of the artist’s ongoing research into the current status of intimacy in our increasingly alienating, commodity-driven world. For bonajo, touch can be a powerful remedy for the modern epidemic of loneliness. The installation draws visitors into a sense-altering environment and invites them to reflect on the meaning of touch and intimacy in relation to their own bodies. Immersed in an atmosphere of softness and sensuality – a cushioned refuge from the outside world – they can explore their own ‘touch language’.

NORDIC COUNTRIES (NORWAY, FINLAND, SWEDEN)The Sámi Pavilion

Curators: Katya García-Antón, Liisa-Rávná Finborg e Beaska Niillas
Artists: Pauliina Feodoroff, Máret Ánne Sara, Anders Sunna
Location: Giardini

For the first time, only Sámi artists will be presented in a national pavilion at the Venice Biennale, and for the first time, the Sámi will be recognised as a nation in a pavilion that bears their name. Sápmi is the territory spanning Finland, Norway, Russia, and Sweden traditionally inhabited by the Sámi. The three artists are guiding voices of their generation, and will try to “counteract the impact that colonialism has had on their lives.”

POLAND – Re-enchanting the World

Curators: Wojciech Szymański e Joanna Warsza
Artists: Małgorzata Mirga-Tas (Zakopane, 1978)
Location: Giardini

Małgorzata Mirga-Tas’s works – large-format textiles, sculptures, paintings, spatial objects – are strongly and literally marked with individual and relational experience and collective Polish-Roma history. With Re-enchanting the World, the artist attempts to expand the Polish and European iconosphere and art history with representations of Roma culture. The title is inspired by Silvia Federici’s book Re-enchanting the World: Feminism and the Politics of the Commons (2019), which proposes re-enchanting as a way of recovering the idea of community and rebuilding relationships with others, including non-human actors: animals, plants, water or mountains. Thus, re-enchanting – a non-violent process in which women play an important role – reverses the unfortunate fate of the world, taking off its evil spell and charm.

PORTUGAL – Vampires in Space

Curator: João Mourão/Luís Silva
Artist: Pedro Neves Marques (Lisbon, 1984)
Location: Palazzo Franchetti San Marco 2847

Neves Marques’ Vampires in Space, is a narrative installation, comprising film, confessional poetry and scenography that transforms the second floor of Palazzo Franchetti into a spaceship, within which the wistful existence, dramas and routines of its five passengers unfold during a centuries-long trip to a distant planet. The immersive scenography contrasts the Gothic Venetian style of the palace with a sci-fi and speculative sensibility, typical of the artist’s’ ongoing practice. Through a new film, unpublished poetry and an immersive exhibition design, Pedro Neves Marques resorts to the figure and expectations of what we consider to be a “vampire” to address issues of gender identity, non-nuclear families, queer reproduction, and also the role of intimacy and mental health today.

ROMANIA – You Are Another Me – A Cathedral of the Body

Curators: Cosmin Costinas e Viktor Neumann
Artist: Adina Pintilie (Bucharest, 1980)
Locations: Giardini e New Gallery of the Romanian Institute for Culture and Humanistic Research (Palazzo Correr, Campo Santa Fosca, Cannaregio 2214)

Artist and filmmaker Adina Pintilie presents an audio-visual installation and performative-discursive public program that emerge from the artist’s ongoing research on the poetics and politics of intimacy and the body. The project marks the next stage of Pintilie’s multi-platform research on intimacy – initiated with her feature film TOUCH ME NOT, winner of the Golden Bear at the 2018 Berlinale – a long-term, transdisciplinary inquiry, which the artist explores in the different languages and platforms of art installation, interactive performance, cinema, artist book and online experience.

SAN MARINO – Postumano Metamorfico/Posthuman Metamorphosis

Curator: Vincenzo Rotondo
Artists: Elisa Cantarelli, Nicoletta Ceccoli, Roberto Paci Dalò, Endless, Michelangelo Galliani, Rosa Mundi, Anne-Cécile Surga, Michele Tombolini
Location: Palazzo Donà Dalle Rose, Fondamenta Nove Cannaregio 5038

The Posthuman Metamorphosis that we like to glimpse in our near future will be able to interact with its reference Macrocosm, by imagining other forms of coexistence and transformation, and to create new and alternative conditions of existence compared to those we are used to today.”

SERBIAWalking with Water

Curator: Biljana Ćirić
Artist: Vladimir Nikolić (Belgrade, 1974)
Location: Giardini

At the core of Vladimir Nikolić’s practise is a reflection on the relationship between technology and our bodies. In her curatorial text Biljana Ćirić writes: “Living through the pandemic and the isolation it caused, technology became our mode of connection but also of separation. It accelerated the difference between the privileged and those who are not. Those whose world views are mediated by the screen, and those whose eye remains a direct optical instrument. The artist reflects these worldviews in this exhibition.”

SLOVENIA (Repubblica di) – Senza Padrone / Without a Master

Curator: Robert Simonišek
Artist: Marko Jakše (Ljubljana, 1959)
Location: Arsenale

In the context of this year’s Venice Biennale theme, Marko Jakše’s paintings challenge the idea of controlling nature and the related categories of existence, the scientific systems, and the knowledge of what actually is the primordial in and outside us, and above all, how something is. Jakše’s response to these questions covers a broad range from Nietzschean Dionysian abandon to meta-symbolistic and meta-romantic allegories reflecting the enthralling drama of human passions and yearning—mysterious games without a master.

SPAINCorrection

Curator: Beatriz Espejo
Artist: Ignasi Aballí (Barcelona, 1958)
Location: Giardini

Ignasi Aballì’s operation consists in literally shifting the Spanish pavilion off its axis. The building is slightly skewed with respect to its neighbours, Belgium and the Netherlands. His proposal endeavours to resolve this dilemma by building new internal walls, identical in size to the original ones, at an angle of 10 degrees, the required amount to align the building with its neighbours. The intervention will disrupt spatial memory and will modify the exhibition space, its location at the Biennale, and its relationship with the city of Venice. In tandem with the shifting of the pavilion, the project is complemented by the publication of six books about Venice that attempt to “correct” what we typically expect from a tourist guide to the city. “The entire project is a meta-exhibition and at once a dematerialization. It is like an oblique and concealed institutional critique. Like a broken image of Venice. A disjointed idea of Spain,” curator Beatriz Espejo explained.

SWITZERLANDThe Concert

Curators: Alexandre Babel, Francesco Stocchi
Artist: Latifa Echakhch (El Khnansa, 1974)
Location: Giardini

Artist Latifa Echakhch conceived and developed The Concert, in collaboration with percussionist and composer Alexandre Babel and curator Francesco Stocchi. The exhibition plays with harmonies and dissonances, with the mixed feelings of expectation, fulfilment and disappearance. The sculptures are part of an orchestrated and enveloping experience, a rhythmic and spatial proposal that allows viewers to experience a fuller perception of time and of their own body.
“We want visitors to leave the exhibition with the same feeling they have when they come out of a concert. That this rhythm, those fragments of memory, still echo,” says Latifa Echakhch.

UKRAINEThe Fountain of Exhaustion. Acqua alta

Curators: Lizaveta German, Maria Lanko, Borys Filonenko
Artist: Pavlo Makov (St. Petersburg, 1958)
Location: Arsenale

As we can deduct from the title, Pavlo Makov’s project concerns water management and its depletion: Fountain of Exhaustion. Acqua Alta is a 12-tier pyramid of steel funnels with water flowing into the one on top. Makov started to develop the idea in 1995, the year when his city of Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine was going through an ecological disaster. Heavy rain flooded the city’s wastewater treatment plan. About the work, the artis said: “It’s not that the work has changed – it’s the world that has approached what this work represents.”

HUNGARYAfter Dreams: I Dare to Defy the Damage

Curator: Mónika Zsikla;
Artist: Zsófia Keresztes (Budapest, 1985)
Location: Giardini

The Hungarian pavilion will feature a solo exhibition by Zsófia Keresztes, entitled After Dreams: I Dare to Defy the Damage, which seeks to explore the ambivalent relationship of past and present to the future and the stages of finding identity in four major units.

Anna Milano Brandalise

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