Venice 2022 – Under the theme The Milk of Dreams, the 59th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia invites us for “an imaginary journey through the metamorphoses of bodies and definitions of the human,” says curator Cecilia Alemanni. Archipanic’s editor-in-chief Enrico Zilli explored the Biennale Arte 2002 to select ten national pavilions giving voice to women, minorities and new narratives through the lenses of art, architecture and design.
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At the British Pavilion, Sonia Boyce focuses on the vocal experimentation of five outstanding black female musicians as they embody feelings of power, freedom and vulnerability. A soundscape accompanies visitors through the rooms. Here, colour-tinted videos take centre stage among Boyce’s signature tessellating wallpapers and golden 3D geometric structures, which bring the audience into the work through their highly reflective surfaces.
- [April 25, 2022] The British Pavilion won the Golden Lion for Best National Participation. The jury said “Sonia Boyce proposes, consequently, another reading of histories through the sonic. In working collaboratively with other black women, she unpacks a plenitude of silenced stories. She proposes a very contemporary language in relation to fragmented forms that the viewer in experiencing the pavilion can piece together. Important questions of rehearsal as opposed to the perfect attuned, as well as relations between voices in a form of choir, in a distance, and at varying points in the show are posed.”
United States Pavilion
Brooklyn-based sculptor Simone Leigh is the first black woman to represent the United States at the Venice Biennale. Under the keyword Sovereignty, the pavilion features a new body of work exploring the construction of Black femme subjectivity. Her large-scale sculptural works join forms derived from vernacular architecture and the female body, rendering them via materials and processes associated with the artistic traditions of Africa and the African diaspora.
Zineb Sedira transforms the French Pavilion into an ensemble of movie sets from the 1960s and 1970s when France, Algeria and Italy used to co-produce many movies. Have a glass of wine on the terrasse of a typical Parisian bistro where tango dancers perform a passional love story. Explore a 1950s living room from her memories. The autobiographical narrative as a daughter of Algerian immigrants serves as a warning about the failure of a promise of freedom that, for many people, remains an unfulfilled, even unattainable dream.
Palazzo Palumbo Fossati [Map].
The inaugural Uganda Pavilion in Venice presents the work of Acaye Kerunen and Collin Sekajugo. The Kampala-based artists speak of the country’s many different territories as well as to urban trade and living conditions in its urban centres. They have been actively working with formal and informal archives of Uganda’s dynamic visual culture.
The human body is a “soft machine constantly besieged by a vast, hungry host of parasites,” wrote William S. Burroughs. From here, Jakob Lena Knebl and Ashley Hans Scheirl, pioneers of the queer artistic movement, take over the Austrian Pavilion’s symmetrical architecture, creating a surreal exhibition blending architecture, fashion, furniture design, art and theatre. With extreme irony, they mash-up pop, dandy, trash and Kamp cultures with quirky sculptures, wallpapers and furniture, transforming their own bodies into a kaleidoscopic merry-go-round.
At the Italian Pavilion, Gian Maria Tosatti narrates the rise and fall of the Italian industrial dream from a postwar fast-developing country to nowadays hopes and challenges. The artist recreated a 1:1 scale of a 1970’s factory where visitors can explore a series of empty and obsolete industrial spaces leading to a dark pool with glimmering lights on the horizon. The pavilion invites us to reflect on the difficult balance between man and nature, sustainable development and territory, ethics and profit.
At the Japanese Pavilion, the multidisciplinary art collective Dumb Type presents an exhibition on ‘post-truth’ and ‘liminal spaces’ exploring how we communicate and perceive the world in a post-pandemic world dominated by the internet and social media. Visitors walk into a dark space where voices and an almost architectural sound installation echo within the space while difficult-to-grasp typographies run on the walls.
At the Polish Pavilion, for the first time, a Roma artist represents a national pavilion at Venice Biennale. Drawing inspiration from the astrological frescos of Palazzo Schifanoia in Ferrara, Italy, Małgorzata Mirga-Tas created twelve large-format textiles corresponding to the months of the calendar and expanding the history of art with representations of the culture of the Roma, the largest European minority. The upper artworks narrate the mythical journey of the Roma to Europe; other tapestries focus on Roma’s her-stories combining images of real women with magic and astrology. The lower pieces depict everyday life in the artist’s hometown, Czarna Góra, and other Roma settlements in Poland.
Herbert Rodriguez represents Peru at Venice Biennale with Peace is a Corrosive Promise, a punk exhibition reflecting authoritarianism, terrorism and unrelenting violence that defined the country’s early attempts at democracy as warring factions battled for power and supremacy in the ‘80s. Back in the day, the artist lived and worked underground in the belly of Lima while riots and violence ran the streets. In Venice, he unveils those subterranean and urbanscapes with lurid—collages shaped to resemble a penis, graffiti, violent newspapers’ collages and videos.
Ignasi Aballí ‘reconsiders’ the spaces of the Spanish Pavilion with Corrección. This installation attempts to fix the historical architectural ‘errors,’ nesting a smaller version of the pavilion now rotated by ten degrees within the actual building. As you walk in, you will find an almost empty space. Indeed, in unexpected corners of the building, you can find guides ‘correcting’ the flow of mass tourism through Venice that allow you to explore the authentic soul of the city.