Who's Coming to Venice Biennale 2019? Confirmed Artists So Far (Part VI)

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January 26, 2019

The time is ticking until the begging of the 58th Venice Biennale to be executed according to the curatorial concept by Ralph Rugoff. The anticipation is getting higher since this edition is expected to be saturated with socially and politically charged works.

The first, the second, the third, the fourth, the fifth group of artists representing their countries were already announced, and now we are presenting five more national representation which will form at least a provisional impression of how the upcoming Biennale will look like.

Featured image: Venice Biennale 2017. Image via Flickr.

Grenada - Billy Gerard Frank, Dave Lewis, Shevone Neckles, Amy Cannestra

First on our list is Grenada, a Caribbean country which will represent itself at the Biennale for the third time. The theme of their pavilion titled Epic Memory takes into account the work of Saint Lucian poet and a Nobel prize winner Derek Walcott. Shervone Neckles, Dave Lewis, Amy Cannestra and Billy Gerard Frank are the four selected artists who will emphasize the given thematic frame.

Frank, a multimedia artist exploring sexuality, family, and diaspora, decided to raise funds through a crowdfunding campaign on GoFundMe to support his participation. In this particular case the cost of representation is partially funded by the state, so the artist is obliged to collect the rest of the required sum.

Featured image: Portrait of Billy Gerard Frank. Courtesy of the artist.

Albania - Driant Zeneli

Next on our list is the representative of Albania. The ministry of culture announced the relatively unknown artist Driant Zeneli, who will represent the country at the upcoming Biennale. The title of the election Maybe the cosmos is not so extraordinary refers to the sci-fi novel On the way to Epsilon Eridani written by the Albanian author Arion Hysenbegas in 1983. This will be the fifth time Albania will participate after showing the works of artists such as Edi Hila, Armando Lulaj, Adrian Paci, and Leonard Qylafi.

Featured image: Portrait of Driant Zeneli. Image via gazeta-shqip

Czech Republic – Stanislav Kolibal

The artist announced by The National Gallery in Prague to represent the Czech Republic in Venice is Stanislav Kolíbal. This legendary figure is one of the most important postwar artists in the country and is best known for his minimalist sculptural works. The project titled Former Uncertain Anticipated will be curated by an art historian Dieter Bogner aimed to display the main features of Kolibal’s work; as a matter of fact, the artist will intervene on the wall of the pavilion reacting to its modernist architecture. The National Gallery curator Adam Budak emphasized the decision:

By selecting the project by Stanislav Kolíbal, the jury honors the outstanding pioneer of Czech avant-garde art and acknowledges his groundbreaking oeuvre which, spanning seven decades, speaks the fundamental language of both the late modern and contemporary times and keeps influencing young generations of artists. In doing so, the art of Kolíbal combines the formative past and the ambiguity of the present as well as it anticipates the unknown of the future.

Featured image: Jiri Jiroutek - Stanislav Kolibal, Praha, 1999. Image creative commons

Brazil - Barbara Wagner and Benjamin de Burca

Gabriel Pérez-Barreiro was proclaimed by organizers of Brazilian pavilion as the curator of the national representation at the upcoming Bienial; his choice fell on the multimedia artist duo Bárbara Wagner & Benjamin de Burca, who are commissioned to produce a film for the occasion. Pérez-Barreiro explained the decision:

Bárbara Wagner and Benjamin de Burca bring a critical and simultaneously comprehensive view to the enormous plurality of the current moment, pointing to the way in which popular culture absorbs and interprets the images and phenomena of everyday life and the mass media, incorporating them to their own reality.

Featured image: Bárbara Wagner and Benjamin de Burca - Rise, 2018. Video 2K, colour, sound, 20min, still. Courtesy of Bárbara Wagner and Benjamin de Burca

Cyprus - Christoforos Savva

The national pavilion of Cyprus will feature an extensive retrospective of works by the artist Christoforos Savva (1924 – 1968). This notable and, yet short-lived figure was a pioneer of contemporary Cypriot art and in 1968 was one of the six artists representing Cyprus in its first official participation in the Venice Biennale as an independent state.

The Ministry of Education and Culture which organizes the national pavilion decided to honor the anniversaries of his 1968 Biennale participation and his premature death by displaying his practice in a contemporary international context. Art historian Jacopo Crivelli Visconti was invited to explore, analyze and interpret the artist’s production and the effect it made on the development of Cypriot art scene from the 1950s and ’60s until today, his influences and references, and his progressive ideas and methods.

The upcoming exhibition is relevant in a broader context of revisiting the history of Cypriot modernism in art in order to inscribe its domains within the Western Canon.

Featured image: Portrait of Christoforos Savva. Image via cyprusinvenice2019

Serbia - Djordje Ozbolt

The last on our list is the national pavilion of Serbia. At the 58th Biennale of Contemporary Art in Venice, the country will show the project Back to Memory Loss by the London-based Serbian-born artist Djordje Ozbolt, supported by The Ministry of Culture and Information.

The central work will be an actual wall painting representing abstracted landscape and sculptures that stand opposite the wall and look towards the mural. The project will be curated by Nicoletta Lambertucci, while Vladislav Scepanovic, the professor at the Faculty of Applied Arts in Belgrade and the representative of Serbia at the 57th Biennial, will be the commissioner.

The selection process was quite controversial since the two most important contemporary art institutions such as The Museum of Contemporary Art from Belgrade and The Museum of Contemporary Art from Vojvodina withdraw from the election due to nontransparent procedures, so for the organizer the state chose the institution called Heritage House which does not have previous experience of organizing the national pavilion.

The local art scene criticized the election of Ozbolt fiercely on social media for the same reasons, especially because the curator of the Rejkjavik Art Museum Daniel Kvaran had the leading word within the council for the upcoming Biennale. Kvaran was the curator of the local October Salon, a leading state-funded Serbian art manifestation which became deeply corrupted by the private investors and local politicians.

Featured image: Djordje Ozbolt – Pet cemetery. Image via Flickr.

Iraq - Serwan Baran

Commissioned by The Ruya Foundation and curated by Tamara Chalabi and Paolo Colombo, the Iraqi pavilion will present Fatherland, a project by Serwan Baran. His large-scale and site-specific works are meant to “invoke the feeling of a war zone upon entering”, as experienced by the artist himself during 40 years of conflicts he has lived through in his country. The exhibition will include the monumental acrylic painting The Last Meal, depicting soldiers killed during their last meal, as well as a sculpture titled The Last General, a life-size clay replica of an army general inside a sunken lifeboat cast in fiberglass. This presentation will also be the first time that Iraq has presented a solo artist in Venice.

Featured image: Portrait of Serwan Baran. Courtesy of Ruya Foundation.