Award ceremony 58th Venice Biennale: Three-dimensional art in the age of unrest
May you live in interesting times - if you take a look at the award-winning works of this year's Biennale, the motto of the 58th Biennale chosen by curator Ralph Rugoff, director of the Hayward Gallery in London, makes perfect sense. Times are indeed exciting, restless, and despite emerging dystopian thought patterns, full of creativity. This year's award-winning artworks are a clear expression of it. The fact that many artists use three-dimensional art shows the tremendous importance of this art form for contemporary art.
Lithuania gets the golden lion, Arthur Jafa named best artist
This year the golden lion for the best national pavilon was given to Lithuania for the opera performance Sun & Sea (Marina). The artist trio Rugile Barzdziukaite, Vaiva Grainyte and Lina Lapelyte chose to present an opera performance in their pavilion in the middle of an artificial beach. Their highly acclaimed work criticizes excessive consumption and mass tourism, which threaten climate change and the extinction of species. Arthur Jafa received the prize for “best artist” for his video "The White Album". The African American artist, who is also known for his sculptures, collected hate videos from the Internet, memes and news material demonstrating the implication of images regarding racism.
Arthur Jafa, The White Album; 2019; Single channel video projection, colour, sound; Photo: @ Francesco Galli. 58th International Art Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia, May You Live In Interesting Times.
Haris Epaminonda: Aesthetics and History
This year the Silver Lion for a Promising Young Participant goes to a young artist from Cyprus, Haris Epaminodas, for her, according to the jury, “carefully constructed constellations of images, objects, text, forms, and colors 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”. Her work seems like a refreshing breeze amidst the presence of so many dystopian artworks. When asked about her work the Berlin-based artist answered that she wants to express how humanity is good, that there is reason for hope and the right to dream.
Haris Epaminonda; VOL. XXVII, 2019; Mixed media installation; Photo: © Nick Ash. 58th International Art Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia, May You Live In Interesting Times
Mondo Cane: Dystopia with Humor
The three-dimensional installation Mondo Cane by the Belgian duo consisting of Jos de Gruyter and Harald Thys, which was awarded the "Special Mention", takes a critical look at the resonance of the current European social construction. Over 20 robotized marionettes, each resembling a folkloric stereotype, move like machines, unable, according to the artist, to escape the "old patriarchal ‘safe’ society, with rules that are no longer valid". The artistic discourse of the work refers to a sore point in European societies: a desire for security in which fear has solidified and which imitates a model that has become obsolete. The mechanical movements of the figures reflect this paralyzing fear. For De Gruyter and Thys "they know they will be invaded one day, but for the time being, they will function like they have for hundreds of years—in a circular way. They have become a victim of their own fear”.
Pavilion of BELGIUM; Mondo Cane; 58th International Art Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia, MayYou Live In Interesting Times. Photo by: @ Francesco Galli.
Special Price: Focus on Mexico and Nigeria
In her works, Teresa Margolles recalls the violence of her home country Mexico in particular gender-specific violence against women. Her exposed artwork Muro Cuidad Juárez , which was awarded with a “Special Mention”, shows a barbed wire wall made of cement blocks showing the holes of gunshots which killed four people.
The artist Otobong Nkanga also received a "Special Mention" for her three-dimensional artwork Veins Aligned, which can be seen in the Arsenal, and her, according to the jury, "ongoing and inspired exploration across media into the politics of land, body and time”.
A Biennale in the sign of Complexity
On the opening day, Paolo Baratta, the current exhibition President, said that the Biennale mirrors the complexity of human existence. This year's award-winning artworks are a clear expression of this. They question social patterns that are symptomatic of our times and engage a dialogue with the audience through their complex social confrontations.
Join us and discover the Biennale by yourself on our art trip to the Venice from August 22 to 25!
Author: Carlotta Aubenque
This year Carlotta Aubenque is taking care of the sculpture network Biennale trip to Venice. She deals with all important topics around the biggest international art exhibition for us.
Cover: Pavilion of LITHUANIA, Sun & Sea (Marina); Photo by: @ Andrea Avezzù. 58th International Art Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia, MayYou Live In Interesting Times