Giardini Pavilions – Venice Biennale 2019

My second day of checking out the Venice Biennale in 2019. I love visiting the national pavilions at Giardini. Sometimes I think it feels like the Eurovision of art, seeing what delegation each country has sent.

My write-ups are in the order I saw things. I seemed to write longer notes on each pavilion at Giardini,  so my thoughts here are largely as I scribbled them at the time.

001 Belgium

‘Mondo Cano’ by Jos de Gruyter & Harald Thys. Movement, humans and simplified models. draw people in. Complex back stories to each character. No obvious logic to the people banished/locked away vs. not. Some dodgy types in the open too. And some unfortunates locked away. . The air of a child’s toy town punctured by the realities/complexities of adult life.

002 Spain

‘Perforated’ by Itziar Okariz and Sergio Prego. Enjoyed conversations with heads. Also sculptures amongst videos. Interesting seeing how two artists work so closely together – her video, leading to his sculptures outside. She felt more present throughout. Simple drawings sticky-taped to walls – of organs, intestines, to plants and then outside to fountain with plants.

003 Switzerland

‘Moving Backwards’ by Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz. The artists/performers I wanted to hang out with. Shoes on back-to-front, sequins, playful, wigs as shoulder decoration, quiet and party with strobe-lights.

004 Venezuela.

‘Metaphor of the Three Windows’ by Natalie Rocha Capiello, Ricardo García, Gabriel López, Nelson Rangelosky. I visited this pavilion to see what art in Venezuela feels like at a time of national crisis, exodus, food shortages and meltdown. The vast red images by García were striking but the message scratched on the back about brutality flattening everything felt more significant. The mask dance and portrait that transformed into Trump made me feel like the whole thing was a mask.

004 France

‘Deep see blue surrounding you’ by Laure Prouvost. A beautiful odyssey of which I took few photos. Entering across a sea glass floor strewn with the detritus of modern life and the ocean, made real from beautiful Venetian Murano glass. Sitting in a dark womb, with sandy coral formations, and embarking on a journey.

Poetic, modern, young, alive, doves, octopus, air, sea, mystery, playing cards, figs, breasts, horses, galloping cars, subways, swings, frolicking, singing, breathing, masks, tapestry, glass, fire, journey, worms, earth, lifecycle, light, friendship, earth, love, light, hair, wind.

005 Israel

‘Field Hospital X’ by Aya Ben Ron. Setup to look like a medical clinic, you enter take a numbered ticket and wait in the waiting area. Aiming to be a hospital that prescribes empathy and helps change thought patterns. Unfortunately I didn’t make it past this point. I just don’t cope well with the medical/clinical environment even if it is a pseudo-setup.

006 Serbia

‘Regaining Memory Loss’ by Djordje Ozbolt. Remembering modern art. Primitive sculpture. Futurist figures. Figurative slightly surreal painting. Amazing colours, people and landscape.

008 Brazil

‘Swinguerra’ by Bárbara Wagner & Benjamin de Burca. Alive, dance, young, urban. Dance is what they have. Joyful, considerate yet voyeuristic.

009 Poland

‘Flight’ by Roman Stańczak. Apparently he’d had the idea of making an inside-out plane for over 30 years. I’m glad he finally got a chance to make it.

010 Greece

‘Mr. Stigl’ by Panos Charalambous, Eva Stefani, Zafos Xagoraris. Like walking on eggshells. Thinking about the past, the Greek civil war in 1948. When Peggy Guggenheim used the Greek pavilion to show her collection. Nation-states?

011 United States

‘Liberty’ by Martin Puryear. Calm, considered, refined. Strong sense of US history – the death of the native deer, the uphill wagon, and Sally Hemings.

012 Canda

‘ISUMA’ by Isuma collective – Zacharias Kunuk, Norman Cohn, Paul Apak, Pauloosie Qulitalik. Inuit Life. Displacement. Remembering old traditions. Cutting blocks of ice. The contrast of daily life and inuit culture forced to submit to a western legal system. The demand to be informed and connected.

013 Great Britain

By Cathy Wilkes. Memory, childhood, thoughts, wistfulness, womanhood, pregnancy, death, sacrifice, care, survival, nature, aloneness, isolation.  Oh and in true British fashion, the only pavilion with a queue. But being present in the space with just a handful of visitors at a time made it more powerful.

014 Japan

‘Cosmic- Eggs’ by Motoyuki Shitamichi, Taro Yasuno, Toshiaki Ishikura, Fuminori Nousaku. In a way a Tsunami is cosmic. The Tsunami brought these boulders on shore. Are the recorders controlled by people sitting on the inflatable cushion? Do we have any control over the world around us? Again finishing on a strange one.