180515: La Biennale di Venezia: The pavilions of the nations at the 56th Biennale di Venezia

La Biennale di Venezia The pavilions of the nations at the 56th Biennale di Venezia 08.05.2015 – 22.11.2015 A finger on the map of art By Andrea Winklbauer And the winner is – a pavilion which not too many people seem to have seen on the preview days: the Armenian. It is located on a small island in the lagoon, San Lazzaro degli Armeni, site of the Order of the Mechitarists. The Armenian monastery with its important collection of manuscripts, where once Lord Byron – perhaps the most famous guest – learnt Armenian, is certainly one of the best places worldwide for an exhibition of artists from the Armenian diaspora, particularly when looking at the background in remembrance of the genocide one hundred years ago in the Ottoman Empire. However, the average preview visitor has to economize with his/her time and unfortunately, boat No. 20 only goes once an hour. The pavilion was awarded the Golden Lion - Sabine Breitwieser, Director of the MdM Salzburg, and Mario Codognato, chief Curator of the 21 Haus were part of the jury. To miss something out is often the case with those recurrent, art-loving visitors to the Venice Biennale. But this time, it would be much worse to miss Okwui Enwezor's glitteringly curated show, particularly the part in the Main Pavilion in the Giardini. Even on the Biennale's very own grounds of the Giardini, there was never anything that was so exciting. A staggering number of representatives of nations mirror Enwezor's proclaimed motto of the year "All the World's Futures" with his three "screens" - "Reading Capital" (Karl Marx), "Garden of Disorder" and "Liveness: On Epic Duration". A lot is simply solid and well safeguarded, like the nonetheless beautiful and confidently stylish Austrian contribution by Heimo Zobernig. Also very lovely is the contribution of the Taiwanese Vincent J. F. Huang in the Pavilion of the Pacific State Tuvalu in the Arsenale: there, one has to cross the flooded floor via a catwalk, thereby inevitably getting one's feet wet – a unique indication of global warming which is threatening the island of Tuvalu as well as Venice. Nicolaus Schafhausen curated the Kosovo Pavilion with works by Flaka Haliti – she is known to the Viennese public through a show in the Mumok in 2014. Art is still understood as a spectacle such as in the Japanese Pavilion, which Chiharu Shiota has decorated with a web of red yarn on which have been hung numerous keys, thus creating an intensive colour-space experience – quasi the antithesis of Zobernig's minimalistic, black-and-white procedure in the noble rooms of the art representation of the Alpine Republic. Provocation is frugally distributed. But at least, Christoph Büchel, the Swiss artist who, in 2010, set up a swinger club in the Vienna Secession, transformed an abandoned church into a mosque as the Icelandic contribution – but "in collaboration with the Muslim community of Iceland and Muslim community of Venice, Italy". In the Spanish Pavilion, one can view film material on Salvador Dalí. In comparison, the contemporary art placed with it appears somewhat strenuous and exhausting. One would have wished for something more experimental, more surprising twists and turns of the idioms of art. Much that may have looked good in a gallery frequently appears not so good within the framework of the oldest, and still most important, Biennale. La Biennale di Venezia 30122 Venezia, Giardini della Biennale http://www.labiennale.org/ Opening hours: daily 10 - 18 hours, closed on Mondays

Österreichischer Pavillon - La Biennale di Venezia
30122 Venezia, Giardini della Biennale
Öffnungszeiten: täglich 11 - 19 h, Fr, Sa bis 20 h,
Montag geschlossen außer 25/07, 15/08, 5/09, 19/09, 31/10, 21/11

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