The announcements for individual pavilions at 58th Venice Biennale, which will take place from May 11th to November 24th, 2019, suggest an apparent diversity of approaches, media, and topics which fit the curatorial concept of Ralph Ruggof, who is currently running the famous Hayward Gallery in London. The expectations are high due to the widely critiqued previous edition of Biennale, and the first impression is that the exhibition will be sharp, uncompromising, and mostly focused on socially and politically charged works.
We have presented the first and the second announced group of artists representing their countries, and here are brief descriptions of seven more pavilions which will hopefully provide even better insight into how the Oscars for visual arts is going to look like.
Featured image: Venice Biennial Arsenale, the 54th International Art Exhibition, Venice Biennial, Illuminations. Image via Amy Youngs.
The National Arts Council of Singapore announced their representative of the pavilion. Their choice fell on Song-Ming Ang (b. 1980), a multimedia artist who lives and works between Singapore and Berlin. His artistic practice is based on the explorations of how music connects people regardless of their cultures and backgrounds.
Ming Ang is working with curator Michelle Ho on a project titled Music For Everyone: Variations on a Theme, based on a concert series of the same name organized by the Singaporean Ministry of Culture in the 1970s and 1980s.
Linda de Mello, who is The National Arts Council’s director of sector development, stated about the project:
It traces our historical narrative in a scalable and accessible way. I hope those who see it will be fascinated to learn about the history of Singapore, and yet find its art very futuristic and cutting-edge.
Featured image: Song-Ming Ang - Backwards Bach (still), 2013, two-channel video. Courtesy the artist and FOST Gallery, Singapore. Image via artasiapacific.
Belgium selected artists Jos de Gruyter and Harald Thys to be national representatives at the upcoming Venice Biennale. They are working as a duo for more than two decades and for the exhibition they will release a new work titled Mondo Cane focused on, as they say, "not without humor, the human figure within a national pavilion reminiscent of Europe".
De Gruyter and Thys project will be curated by Anne-Claire Schmitz, the founding director of the Brussels nonprofit space La Loge. The minister of culture for the Wallonia-Brussels Federation Alda Greoli is satisfied with results, so she stated the following:
I am convinced that this trio has all the qualities to grace our national pavilion with a project that, I hope, will give people the desire to discover the excellence of creation in the French Community and more broadly, in Belgium.
Featured image: Jos de Gruyter & Harald Thys - Das Wunder des Lebens, Installation view at Kunsthalle Wien by Lorenz Siedler
The Spanish pavilion will feature a collaboration of Itziar Okariz and Sergio Prego curated by the curator Peio Aguirre. The idea is to contrast the works of these artists, both represented by the Carreras Mugica gallery, by emphasizing the political economy of the body. Okariz and Prego will release an installation as a reflection of the architectural and historical of the Spanish Pavilion.
It is important to point out that, for the first time, the selection of the Spanish curatorial project for Venice was proclaimed by the jury led by the Director of the Reina Sofia Museum, Manuel Borja-Villel, and a committee selection made by Iñaki Martínez, Nuria Enguita, Paul B. Preciado, Marta Gili and Manuel Segade, as well as the Director of Cultural and Scientific Relations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation (AECID), Roberto Varela, and the General Director of Action Cultural Spanish (ACE), Elvira Marco.
Featured image: Sergio Prego - Asbestos Hall. Image via barcelonagalleryweekend.com
Shu Lea Cheang is an established multimedia artist of international reputation and she will be the first woman representing Taiwan at the 58th International Art Exhibition at Venice Biennale 2019 selected by The Taipei Fine Arts Museum. She is a pioneer of net art who devotedly explores a thin line between technology and humanity through a prism of gender and body politics, ethnic and cultural diversity, history, and the environment. In regards to her participation on the Biennale, Lea Cheang expressed:
Since my net art work BRANDON (1998-1999), a trajectory charged with detours and deviations has teleported me to Palazzo delle Prigioni, Venice, where crimes and punishment are revisited in a 16th-century prison setting. To be representing Taiwan in its current complex state is a tremendous task, and I am grateful to be accompanied on this venture by the visionary curator Paul B. Preciado and the dedicated VB team at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum.
Featured image: Shu Lea Cheang - UKI - Viral Love. Part of Shu Lea Cheang & Mark Amerika exhibition at Furtherfield Gallery .
Wales selected multifaceted artist Sean Edwards to represent their national pavilion in Venice in 2019. For years he is producing hybrid projects by encompassing various media such as objects, film, video, photography, books, and performance. Starting from his personal experiences, Edwards is exploring the notion of class and layers of the everyday. He is a prominent figure and a driving force of Welsh artistic scene since the artist runs an experimental exhibition space g39 and is a lecturer in Fine Art at Cardiff School of Art and Design. Edwards’s presentation is curated by Tŷ Pawb, Wrexham who will be working together with Marie-Anne McQuay.
The artist is honored for being selected and is looking forward to working with the outstanding team at Tŷ Pawb, independent producer Louise Hobson and again with curator Marie-Anne McQuay. He added:
To have the opportunity to produce the exhibition I proposed during the selection process is one thing in itself, to be able to do this under the banner of Cymru yn Fenis/Wales in Venice is an opportunity almost beyond belief.
Featured image: Sean Edwards - Historic activity, Recent Activity, Birmingham School of Art, November 2016. Photo: Andrew Lacon. Image via a-n.
For the third time, the Philippines will be part of the Venice Art Biennale after fifty-one years of absence. The announced representative of Philippines for Venice 2019 is Mark Justiniani who is an artist known for large-scale and immersive site-specific installations mostly centered on the sensory effects. Throughout the years, along with his solo practice, the artist collaborated with various activist groups and artist initiatives in the ‘80s and ‘90s.
Justiniani will release an installation titled Island Weather curated by Tessa Maria Guazon, an assistant professor at the Department of Art Studies in the University of the Philippines. The idea is to explore perception and place or, to be more exact, how an island can be perceived as a nation.
Featured image: Mark Justiniani - The Settlement, 2017. Image via ayalamuseum.org
Last but not least is the Hungarian representative at the 2019 Venice Biennale - the artist Tamás Waliczky, who was selected by The Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art. Under the title Cameras – Imaginary Cameras and Other Optical Devices, curated by Zsuzsanna Szegedy-Maszák, he will produce a critically charged installation featuring digitally designed analog machines like lightboxes, animations, and interactive elements.
Waliczky’s practice is based on investigations of technological progress and its effects on humans. The artist is best known for a group of black-and-white computer graphics photography equipment titled Machines series which date from 1989.
Featured image: Tamás Waliczky - Adventures of Tom Tomiczky. Image via ludwigmuseum.hu