Officical Website: www.labiennale.org
The title of the 54th Exhibition, ILLUMInations literally draws attention to the importance of such developments in a globalised world. I am particularly interested in the eagerness of many contemporary artists to establish an intense dialogue with the viewer, and to challenge the conventions through which contemporary art is viewed.
The term ‘nations’ in ILLUMInations applies metaphorically to recent developments in the arts all over the world, where overlapping groups form collectives of people representing a wide variety of smaller, more local activities and mentalities.
Anton Ginzburg: At the Back of the North Wind is an exhibition of new works by Anton Ginzburg, which will open to the public from June 3 to November 27, 2011 during the 54th Venice Biennale at the Palazzo Bollani. The exhibition will encompass four rooms and two floors and includes three large-scale sculptural installations, eight site-specific bas reliefs, photography, paintings, a video installation and a series of works on paper. Serving as the central narrative force for the exhibition, the film is a poetic and evocative record of the expedition to “map the void” and search for the mythological land of Hyperborea, “beyond the Boreas” (beyond the North Wind).
Anton Ginzburg uses an array of historical and cultural references as starting points for his investigations of art’s capacity to penetrate layers of the past. He constructs lines of memory and imagination, whether collective or individual, and traces them to points of intersection. The last room will contain Hyperborea, a video installation that will document the journey attempting to locate Hyperborea according to its descriptions in literature, newspaper articles and mythology. The installation takes the viewer from the primordial, virgin forest of Oregon, to St. Petersburg and its eroding palaces and haunted natural history museum, and finally to the ruins of the Gulag prisons and archeological sites on the White Sea. Present throughout the installation is a cloud of red smoke that functions both as a metaphor for the exalted self and an expression of the collective unconscious.
Official Website: www.labiennale.org
4th June – 27th November 2011
The Puerto Rico–based multimedia duo Allora & Calzadilla has been announced as the United States’ representatives to the 2011 Venice Biennale, marking the first time that an artist pair or collective has been picked by the nation to fill the prestigious role. The selection was made by the Indianapolis Museum of Art, which the U.S. State Department has entrusted to organize next year’s pavilion; Lisa Freiman, the chair of the museum’s contemporary art department, has been tapped as the commissioner of the pavilion.
For the 54th Venice Biennale, Ms. Allora and Mr. Calzadilla will create works that combine performance, sculpture, video and sound. In “Striving for Glory”, Allora & Calzadilla have adopted the Olympic Games — the festival of athleticism originated in the 8th century B.C. as a tribute to Zeus and then later turned into a political staging ground for all manner of nationalistic display — as a focus of their installation. And not just in the abstract either: be prepared to encounter former Olympian champs Dan O’Brien, David Durante, and Chellsie Memmel in the paviion.
All together the artists are creating six works for the pavilion. “Body in Flight (Delta)” and “Body in Flight (American)” revolve around wooden reproductions of the latest designs for airlines’ business-class seats. The seats themselves will stand in for the balance beam and pommel horse, becoming apparatuses for gymnastic and dance performances. For “Track and Field” a treadmill will be attached to an overturned military tank, and runners will run on it at regularly scheduled intervals.
The exhibition, Ms. Freiman said, questions the interplay among the body and art, militarism, commerce, sport and national identity. And the artists have chosen to call it “Gloria,” a title that “works across all the different metaphors: religious, military, Olympic and aesthetic,” she said.
The title Gloria translates from Italian and Spanish to Glory. Gloria references military, religious, spiritual, Olympic, economic, and cultural grandeur, and points to the pomp and splendor of the national pavilions. The title also references the numerous pop songs that the female name has inspired.
Algorithm combines a custom-made pipe organ with an automatic teller machine (ATM). Visitors enter the gallery space and see the organ from behind. In the towering, nearly 20-foot-tall interactive sculpture, a Diebold ATM sits inside the pipe organ, replacing the typical organ keyboard, pedals, keys, buttons, and knobs with various ATM parts including a card reader, keypad, speaker, display screen, receipt printer, and cash dispenser. Each financial transaction that visitors conduct generates a unique musical score that produces randomized notes and chords at varying degrees of volume by driving pressurized air through pipes selected via the ATM keyboard. The artists collaborated with composer Jonathan Bailey to create a composition of sounds that range from atonal material to more classically structured melodies, harmonies, and phrases.
Armed Freedom Lying on a Sunbed (2011)
Armed Freedom Lying on a Sunbed is an altered bronze replica of the Statue of Freedom, also known as Freedom Triumphant in War and Peace (and sometimes referred to as Armed Freedom), which has crowned the dome of the U.S. Capitol Building since 1863. Armed Freedom Lying on a Sunbed features a scaled down, 7 ½-foot replica of the original bronze sculpture, lying horizontally inside a Solaris 442 sun bed. The work is housed within the Pavilion’s rotunda, which echoes the architectural form of the U.S. Capitol dome and rotunda.
Body in Flight (American) (2011)
n Body in Flight (Delta) and Body in Flight (American), Allora & Calzadilla appropriated the forms of state-of-the art elite business class seats and reproduced full-scale wooden replicas stained like polychromatic religious icons. In Body in Flight (Delta) the artists substitute the airline seat replica for a balance beam to be used by a female gymnast from USA Gymnastics—the national governing body for gymnastics in the U.S.—who will perform a routine that emphasizes flexibility and fluidity. Body in Flight (American) loosely approximates a pommel horse and will be used by male gymnasts who perform routines that feature quick movements and sheer gymnastic power. Each work appears in a separate gallery that isolates and contrasts the gendered performances. Working with gymnast David Durante and modern dance choreographer Rebecca Davis, Allora & Calzadilla developed routines to create a new vocabulary of movement that is an unexpected hybrid of gymnastics and modern dance.
Half Mast\Full Mast (2010)
Half Mast\Full Mast (21 minutes) is the third in a series of short films Allora & Calzadilla have made about the Puerto Rican island of Vieques, which was controlled primarily by the U.S. Navy until 2003, when military exercises ceased and environmental remediation began. Filmed on the island, the two-channel video consists of two projected videos, one on top of the other. Each depicts a different landscape, but both share a common cinematic framing of a flagpole in the center of the image. The result of the two images together creates the appearance of one single flagpole connected between the two screens, despite the image’s otherwise obvious disjunctive backgrounds. One gymnast at a time enters one of the two screens and takes the position of a human flag. Depending on which screen the gymnasts appear, top or bottom, the flag seems to be flying at full mast or half mast, in sites that symbolically mark places of victory or setback in the island’s 60 year struggle for peace, decontamination, ecological justice, and sustainable development.
Track and Field (2011)
Installed in front of the U.S. Pavilion, Track and Field features a massive 60-ton overturned military tank that has been repurposed by superimposing a functioning treadmill above its right track. An athlete affiliated with USA Track & Field—the national governing body for track & field, long-distance running, and race walking—runs on the treadmill at regularly scheduled intervals throughout the exhibition
São Paulo, Brazil : 25 September – 12 December 2010
Official Website: http://www.29bienal.org.br
Title: Há sempre um copo de mar para um homem navegar (There is always a cup of sea to sail in)
The title “There is always a cup of sea to sail in” was inspired by a line by the poet Jorge de Lima (1895 – 1953) in his work Invenção de Orfeu (1952). The concept of this year’s São Paulo Biennial is based on the notion that it is impossible to separate art from politics. Art, through ways of its own, is “capable of blocking the sensorial coordinates through which we understand and inhabit the world by bringing into it themes and attitudes that did not previously fit in, thus making it different and wider.”
Installation view of “Breath: The Vertical Works” at Hangar Bicocca, Milan, Italy 2009
Anthony McCall is a key figure in the history of avant-garde cinema. He has carved a unique position in contemporary art by bridging the gaps between the cinematic, the sculptural and the pictorial by means of his extraordinary ‘solid light’ films, which manifest as immersive installations made by drawing in real space with projected light. McCall creates “solid light” works – digital videos of meticulously choreographed intersecting lines and curves which are projected in darkened haze-filled rooms, creating three-dimensional sculptural forms constructed from light. When the viewer moves in and out of the projected light beams, they are forced to reconcile their perceived sense of a three dimensional object in space with the actual reality of the mutable properties of light.
Born 1961, Brussels, Belgium
Lives and works in Fasta, Sweden
Upside Down Mushroom Room, 2000
Exhibited at Fondazione Prada Milan
Carsten Höller holds a doctorate in biology, and he uses his training as a scientist in his work as an artist, concentrating particularly on the nature of human relationships. Viewer participation is the key to all of Höller’s sculptures, but it is less an end in itself than a vehicle to informally test the artist’s theories concerning human perception and physiological reactions.
Test Site, 2006.
Installation view ‘Unilever Series : Carsten Höller’, Turbine Hall
Tate Modern, London 2006.
For Carsten Höller, the experience of sliding is best summed up in a phrase by the French writer Roger Caillois as a ‘voluptuous panic upon an otherwise lucid mind’. The slides are impressive sculptures in their own right, and you don’t have to hurtle down them to appreciate this artwork. What interests Höller, however, is both the visual spectacle of watching people sliding and the ‘inner spectacle’ experienced by the sliders themselves, the state of simultaneous delight and anxiety that you enter as you descend.
Mirror Carousel, 2005.
Installation view, « Logic », Gagosian, London, 2005.
A ceiling-mounted camera robotically tracks human movement. A computer selects an individual and activates a spotlight that locks on and follows him or her. Sounds (whispered words) are directed only towards that person.
Google Earth image of Singapore on the floor of the historical Chambers of City Hall. The visitors receive adhesive label to add their comments and additional information.
Bachelor – The Dual Body. 2003
Perspex, steel, water, book, water pump, light
150 x 110 x 65 cm
A book of philosophy is floating in the water. The book is a special copy of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1921), the only book-length work written by the Austrian philosopher (1889 – 1951).
Iranian art couple Farhad Moshiri and Shirin Aliabadi created the project “Operation Supermarket”. It consists of a series of commodity advertisements and packages mixing “poetry with detergent” as the artists describe. The emphasis is on the commodification of mainstream media traits of the Middle East, but also on a wry parody of the mythical hopes still pinned on the commodity itself as a capitalist agent for change.
Shoot First Make Friends Later
Shirin Aliabadi & Farhad Moshiri
The series points out the pervasive effect of Western global capitalism on the everyday life of the general public and how the citizens start to define themselves as persons by what they take from the shelves of the marketplace. These works offer manipulated packages of common household objects available at any common supermarket in the world. The title “Supermarket” suggests an allusion to global consumerism and products as the vehicles of its manifestation as the new figure of Empire.
We Are All Americans
The work titled “We are all Americans” suggests our fascination with everything American. This Americanization of a society is defined by the ratio of commodity fetishism to the range of product accessibility. Global corporations, when localizing their advertisements, adapt their jingles to the local cultural attributes. Thus poetry with detergent is also a reference to Iranian oral culture and its obsession with poetry, a tradition deeply rooted in Iranian society. The artists re-brand and transform these items into a discourse on capitalism. The new guise of the image, altered from an advertisement to an artwork, consequently modifies the way the image is encountered and discussed. The artists deploy these ready-made advertisements as a platform for smuggling a new content. The immediate quality of these images – as parts of a common global image-repertoire – are used to convey a differentiated message in a fashion that contradicts their raison d’etre.
Families Ask Why
In his work, Moshiri makes direct reference to everything kitsch, as the post-colonial monuments of contemporary culture of Iran and the region. He refers to the post-revolutionary drawing books, water fountains at the intersections and main squares of the cities, the furniture of the parvenu, and the Western and Westernized brands of products. But nevertheless these works go way beyond the local boundaries. With consumerism as a global tool of expression, our lexicon of products forms the vocabulary of our times. The lines of carts behind the supermarket register suggest a modern form of communication. Shoot first, make friends later is the product of a global paranoia and people killing people is what that makes everyday headlines. In fact some of them do remind us of the postcards of demonstrations outside WTO summits. And perhaps the artists are raising the question of how can we stop the famine in Africa with the choice of our soap and how can our bathroom shelf criticize out government? How can we protest with the brand of our underwear and how can we ask for forgiveness with the choice of our moisturizers. And with our preferred set of detergents we express our love, asking: “MY SOUL, MY UNIVERSE, WHERE WERE YOU ALL THOSE DAYS”