Review! This years’ Art Biennale in Venice announced an ambitious aim to show All the World’s Futures. The major art event indeed showcases numerous positions from different parts of the world. 89 National participations alongside with 136 artists of the International Art Exhibition share their vision of a global state of things.
A big question mark is put over the concepts of reality and image in the German pavilion. Serious and witty in the same time, it challenges the credibility of a picture in the modern age and reflects upon its further development. Tobias Zielony is focusing on the visual strategies of mass, while Hito Steyerl transfers the viewer to the parallel digital reality of her video work that shows the implementation of power und manipulation. The installations show the ability of images to create utopia and delusion.
Chiharu Shiota fills the Japanese pavilion with red threads interweaved across the entire room, each of them carrying a key. As a symbol of trust and the guardian of the personal sphere, the key is rather an intimate piece then a mere tool. The multiple layers of individual emotions connected to these objects accumulate memories existing in the same time, in the same space. The old boats placed in the yarn net refer to an old symbol of the time flow and evoke a metaphysical presence of collective memories.
The Nordic pavilion features the work of Camille Norment, the Oslo-based artist, musician, composer and writer. Using the expressiveness of these creative practices, she creates an environment on the intersection between the sound, the visual and special presence. The oversized window frames are arranged over and across each other, while the broken glass completes the impression of mess and destruction. Simultaneously, the sound installation that accompanies the work remains calm and peaceful and suggests the idea of harmony. The visitors find themselves in this contradictive position that makes them reflect on the external factors that influence our attitude to the conflict situations.
Danh Vo addresses global issues by representing them through single objects that bear complex stories. His series of works presented in the Danish pavilion deal with the ideas of faith and religion. The revives the figure of the devil combining the excerpts from the classic horror movie The Exorcist with Catholic iconography, like the figure of Christ, cherub, The Virgin of the Annunciation as well as ancient statues. The titles like Lick Me Lick Me or Do you know what she did, your cunting daughter? contrast with the religious imagery and evoke a sudden feeling of horror.
Herman de Vries investigates all ways to be in the Dutch pavilion. The 83-year-old artist brings us back to the nature as the prime origin of life and shows the objects found in the forest – his ultimate source of inspiration. Arranged to environmental installations, these organic pieces tell us about the vast diversity of forms. Burned III displays parts of a hundred-years-old acacia tree burned during the Midsummer and suggests that every transformation is a part of the universal flow of life.
The striking beauty coexists with the awareness of danger in the pavilion of Tuvalu. The turquoise pool filled with water is crossed by the paths that sink slightly, almost unnoticeably, – the fate that the small Polynesian island is threatened by due to the raising sea level caused by the climate change. Having the old Arsenale walls as its background, the installation corresponds with the similar issue Venice is facing and raises the question of existence and disappearance.
The artist collective BGL unfolds the great attraction of materials and objects and brings us far away from the digitalization and globalization to a commonly familiar atmosphere of a craft shop, a living room and a studio. The spaces filled up to the top with recycled objects deal with the disposition to collect things and the mass consume that becomes an everyday habit. The second floor bears a complex construction of metal paths where visitors can throw a con to. Eventually, it lands in a transparent wall becoming a piece of an ornament – the process that minimalizes money to useless objects and reveals its relative importance.
Pamela Rosenkranz offers a highly abstract vision of the human body. Her installation consists of a pool filled with synthetic liquid of a light pink that is most equal to the color of the skin. Due to the permanent motion of the water, the reservoir seems to be alive and is associated with the never resting human body. The anthropological concept aims at reminding of the universal nature of physiology as one of the basic and inevitable constants of life.
The Hungarian pavilion presents the installation of Szilárd Cseke that gives life to artificial materials by putting them in motion. Using the correlating physical powers of air impulse and pressure, he makes white balls slowly move through the transparent plastic tubes placed under the ceiling. A large foil cushion ‘breathes’ due to the continuous supply of the air. These pneumatic constructions work with various ideas of identity by turning abstract forms into the moving bodies.
Céleste Boursier-Mougenot deals with the understanding of nature in the contemporary technological context. His installation transforms the French pavilion intro a place of tranquility and contemplation by suggesting visitors to rest on the descending steps made of expanding foam and observe a large tree moving slowly across the pavilion. Moved by a built-in mechanism, the tree resembles a fairy-tale creature and realizes a childhood dream of a magic forest. This harmonic fusion illustrates an alternative to the unsustainable exploration of natural resources. .
The Turkish conceptual artist Sarkis pursues the connection between past and present. Working upon the all-time urgent issues of war und pain, he combines artistic materials and technics from different centuries. His stained glass panes that depict the masterpieces of art history correspond in the pavilion space with installations of a rainbow made of the contemporary neon. Through this visual interaction, the artist attempts to link the history with the future.
Text By Oksana Shestaka and picutres by Alexandra Polyakova