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At the Venice Biennale, exhibition curators are also political strategists
a-la-biennale-de-venise-les-commissaires-dexposition-sont-aussi-des-strateges-politiques - ARTACTIF
July 2024 | Reading time: 19 Min | 0 Comment(s)

About the 60th edition of the Venice Biennale which takes place from April 20 to November 24.

Will the Paris Olympics overshadow the Venice Biennale in art magazines and contemporary art world gossip? In any case, if Connaissance d’art presents the artists “in competition” in Venice in its May issue, I note that it has chosen to devote its cover to the 50 exhibitions selected for the Olympic Games. No matter, I'm still going to talk to you about this 60th edition of the Venice Biennale which opened its doors on April 20, and which promises to be "most exciting" if we are to believe the journalist Elisabeth Couturier. “Most confusing,” too. Because its artistic director, the Brazilian Adriano Pedrosa, 59 years old, the first curator from the southern hemisphere and with a CV as long as his arm, “works methodically to decenter our gaze and to deconstruct our points of reference”. Great ! So let’s deconstruct! In any case, this is the most prestigious event on the art planet, let’s not kid ourselves. So the one who gives the pulse of creation, whether for example by putting women artists in the spotlight in 2022, offering them the essential showcase to be able to sell works of art throughout the world, or by promoting room for others who are invisible today.

“This year the wind of inclusive struggles and emancipatory convergences is blowing very strongly,” Elisabeth Couturier warns us. “Until the violent controversy concerning the maintenance or not of the Israeli Pavilion”, which will therefore remain closed until the release of the hostages and the signing of a ceasefire… Moreover this edition was called Foreigners everywhere by Adriano Pedrosa, direct allusion to the work of the Claire Fontaine collective inspired by an anti-racist movement in Turin from the 2000s. The term “foreign” is to be taken in all senses of the term to fuel thought. Except that we are far from a demonstration since all this takes place in an idyllic setting, against a backdrop of vaporettos and more or less distinguished art lovers getting lost in the Venetian streets in search of exhibitions on the side circuit , or even well-hidden off-proposals that we recommend by word of mouth…

The selection of artists, or rather of seven national pavilions out of the ninety gathered this year, made by the journalist from Connaissance des arts, already allows us, before even having to travel, to talk again about Julien Creuzet, who created a buzz by being the first overseas artist to be selected for the French pavilion. “It is not necessary to know Martinique to be carried away by the work of Julien Creuzet,” explains Elisabeth Couturier in the preamble. Phew, that’s good, but I believed that the very essence of art was to be universal, right? Brief. His immersive installation takes visitors to the Venice Biennale “into the depths of the forest of his childhood, restoring its noises, its smells, its colors, a multisensory environment that engages the body and soul of the visitor. »

On the Luxembourg pavilion transformed into a studio, we find ourselves in the middle of creating the soundtrack for the 60th edition of the Biennale, thanks to the A Comparative Dialogue Act project designed by the artist and musician Andrea Mancini and the Brussels collective Every Island, creator of architecture and ephemeral installations. On the Canadian pavilion, the artist Kapwani Kiwanga, linked to Tanzania by her family origins and winner in 2020 of the Marcel Duchamp Prize, mixed unexpected materials and mediums after having immersed herself in historical archives, in order to question the manifestations of power through forgotten events which resonate, and reason, with contemporary reality.

The Swiss pavilion having been entrusted to Guerreiro do Divino Amor, the artist born in Geneva in 1983, living and working in Brazil, installed Super Superior Civilizations, a new chapter in his great baroque and grating saga “which revisits political myths national, their symbolic charge and their hierarchy.

The American pavilion was a historic political event: American painter and sculptor of Cherokee origin Jeffrey Gibson, 51, born in Colorado, is in fact the first indigenous artist to exhibit solo there. And it is in all seriousness that curator Kathleen Ash Milby, curator at the Portland Art Museum, declared that "her inclusive and collaborative approach is a powerful commentary on the influence and persistence of indigenous cultures in the United States and in the world”… No comment.

I wonder what it feels like to be an artist and know so clearly that you are chosen for reasons of pure political strategy, like Jeffrey Gibson or Julien Creuzet. Which actually made me laugh about it in her interview when her “victory” was announced, the curator literally throwing herself at the microphone to justify the artistic quality of her work. Yes, I imagine that there is an interest in being confident in one's intrinsic artistic quality, and in surrounding oneself well, if one does not want to upset everyone. Because all the same, the opportunity to exhibit in the largest art gallery in the world cannot be refused when you want to sell your works of art on the contemporary art market... In any case, with The space in which to place me, Gibson presents a beautiful series of works inviting us to reflect on the relationships between individual identity and collective belonging.

The British pavilion chose John Akomfrah, a Ghanaian-British writer and filmmaker who took an early interest in post-colonial struggles through film installations exploring the links between identity, immigration and geopolitics, while the Beninese pavilion had spoiled for choice. Benin has no shortage of artists who are already internationally recognized! However, this is its first national pavilion in Venice... We will therefore come across the works of art of four creators: the multimedia visual artist Chloé Quenum, the painter Moufouli Bello, the photographer Ishol Akpo and Romuald Hazoumé, great figure of the African contemporary art scene. The very one that pays tribute to Beninese women in their role as cultural, political and social Amazons…


Valibri en RoulotteArticle written by Valibri in Roulotte

Illustration: The 60th International Exhibition of the Venice Biennale, entitled “Stranieri Ovunque – Foreigners Everywhere”, will be open to the public from Saturday April 20 to Sunday November 24, 2024, at the Giardini and the Arsenale. Courtesy: La Biennale di Venezia. Photo: Andrea Allez

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