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According to declarations of curator Ralph Rugoff, some key aspects of this year's Biennale are:
The Central Exhibition will feature only 79 artists - all living artists.
It will be divided into two separate shows, one at the Arsenale, and one at the Central Pavilion in the Giardini. Both "Propositions" will include all artists, exhibiting very different kinds of works.
One aspect in focus will be the "post-truth era" of our times, and how artists deal with the so-called alternative facts, creating spaces for complex thinking and multi-level discourses.
There will be a lot of painting, besides of film/video, spatial and digital works.
The title of the 58th International Art Exhibition is taken from a [supposedly] Chinese saying referring to periods of uncertainty, crisis and turmoil; "interesting times," exactly as the ones we live in today.
Curator Ralph Rugoff about his concept:
"At a moment when the digital dissemination of fake news and 'alternative facts' is corroding political discourse and the trust on which it depends, it is worth pausing whenever possible to reassess our terms of reference. The 58th International Art Exhibition will not have a theme per se, but will highlight a general approach to making art and a view of art’s social function as embracing both pleasure and critical thinking. Artists who think in this manner offer alternatives to the meaning of so-called facts by suggesting other ways of connecting and contextualising them."
Artist: Shu Lea Cheang. Curator: Paul B. Preciado. Commissioner: Taipei Fine Arts Museum. Venue: Palazzo delle Prigioni.
Artist: Nujoom Alghanem. Curators: Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath. Commissioner: Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation. Venue: Arsenale, Sale d'Armi.
Golden Lion for the best National Participation:
Special mention for a National Participation:
Golden Lion for best participant in the International Exhibition May You Live In Interesting Times
Silver Lion for a promising young participant in the International Exhibition May You Live In Interesting Times
Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement:
The awards of the International Jury have been presented with the following motivations:
Golden Lion for Best National Participation to Lithuania for the experimental spirit of the Pavilion and its unexpected treatment of national representation. The jury was impressed with the inventive use of the venue to present a Brechtian opera as well as the Pavilion’s engagement with the city of Venice and its inhabitants. Sun & Sea (Marina) is a critique of leisure and of our times as sung by a cast of performers and volunteers portraying everyday people.
Special mention as National Participation to Belgium. Unsparing in its humour, the Belgian Pavilion offered an alternative view of the under-recognised aspects of social relations across Europe. The uncanny staging of a series of fictional characters in the form of mechanised puppets based on folkloric stereotypes allow the Pavilion to act on several registers, while creating two if not more parallel realities.
Golden Lion for the Best Participant in the International Exhibition May You Live In Interesting Times to Arthur Jafa for his 2019 film The White Album (venue: Central Pavilion, Giardini), which, in equal measure, is an essay, a poem and portraiture. Jafa uses appropriated and original footage to reflect upon the issue of race. Just as the film critiques a moment fraught with violence, in tenderly portraying the artist’s friends and family, it also speaks to our capacity for love.
Silver Lion for a Promising Young Participant in the International Exhibition May You Live In Interesting Times to Haris Epaminonda for her carefully constructed constellations of images, objects, text, forms, and colours that are built out of fragmented memories, histories and imagined connections; for showing us that the personal and the historical can be compressed into a powerful yet loose web of multiple meanings.
This year, two Special Mentions were awarded to the following participants:
Teresa Margolles for her sharp and poignant works that deal with the plight of women grossly affected by the narcotics trade in her native Mexico, and for creating powerful testimonies by shifting existing structures from the real world into the Exhibition halls.
Otobong Nkanga for her ongoing and inspired exploration across media into the politics of land, body and time.
Stephanie Rosenthal, President of the Jury (Germany)
Director of Gropius Bau Berlin
Defne Ayas (Turkey/The Netherlands)
Curator at Large at the V-A-C Foundation in Moscow
Cristiana Collu (Italy)
General director of the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Rome
Sunjung Kim (South Korea)
President of the Gwangju Biennale Foundation
Hamza Walker (USA)
Executive Director of LAXART, Los Angeles
The International Jury will award the following official prizes:
- Golden Lion for best National Participation
- Golden Lion for best participant in the International Exhibition May You Live In Interesting Times
- Silver Lion for a promising young participant in the International Exhibition May You Live In Interesting Times
The Jury will also have the opportunity of awarding:
- one special mention to National Participations
- two special mentions to the artists in the International Exhibition May You Live In Interesting Times
Giardini and Arsenale, opening times:
11 May - 24 November 2019
Tue - Sun 10 am - 6 pm
Closed on Mondays - except 13 May, 2 Sept., 18 Nov.
Only Arsenale until 5 October:
Fri, Sat 10 am - 8 pm
From press information.
Portrait Ralph Rugoff, © Photo: Andrea Avezzu, Courtesy of La Biennale di Venezia
Photo on top: © Haupt & Binder, UiU
Complete visual documentation. Curators: Zoe Butt, Omar Kholeif, Claire Tancons.