Who's Coming to Venice Biennale 2021? Confirmed Artists So Far
It was announced recently that the curator Cecilia Alemani will be the artistic director of the 59th edition of the Venice Biennale. The director and chief curator of High Line Art (the public art program at High Line in New York City) will become the fifth woman in charge of the most prestigious international exhibition.
Alemani worked as a curator of Frieze Projects at the Frieze Art Fair in New York from 2012 to 2017, curated the Italian national pavilion in 2017 with the works by Adelita Husni-Bey, Roberto Cuoghi, and Giorgio Andreotta Calò, and acted as the artistic director for the Art Basel Cities program in Buenos Aires in 2018. At her current post at the The High Line (the public art program at High Line in New York), she organized exhibitions of artists such as Barbara Kruger, Rashid Johnson, John Baldessari, and Ed Ruscha. Last year Alemani successfully launched a permanent space for monumental artwork titled High Line Plinth, with a sculpture by the artist Simone Leigh.
Alongside the inauguration of the 2021 Venice Biennale curator, the Italian ministry announced that the renowned Italian film producer Roberto Cicutto will take over the presidential position of the Biennale di Venezia, the parent organization of both art and architecture biennials, as well a few other festivals dedicated to dance, film, music, and theater.
The 58th Venice Biennale May You Live In Interesting Times curated the American-born curator Ralph Rugoff was closed on November 2019, drawing 593,616 visitors. The countries have now started announcing their representatives for the following edition scheduled for May to November 2021. Keep an eye as we will update the article as the international pavilions are announced.
Here are the national pavilions of the 59th Venice Biennale Arte 2021
Featured image: La Biennale di Venezia 2019, via labiennale.org.
Australia - Marco Fusinato
Australia announced that their national pavilion will be represented with the works by Marco Fusinato, to be curated by Alexie Glass-Kantor, executive director of Artspace in Sydney and curator of Art Basel Hong Kong’s Encounters section.
This artist/musician gained critical attention for his sound-based works expressed through performance, installation, recording, and photography that often connect the art and music worlds. In 2013, Fusinato was part of Soundings, the first survey of sound art ever presented at MoMA, and his work was curated by Okwui Enwezor for the 2015 Venice Biennale.
Featured image: Marco Fusinato – Aetheric Plexus, 2009. Courtesy the artist.
Canada - Stan Douglas
The renowned video artist Stan Douglas was selected to represent Canada at the 2021 Venice Biennale pavilion that was commissioned by The National Gallery of Canada in Ontario.
By focusing on the narratives of marginalized communities, and the failure of utopian movements, Douglas explores the contemporary obsolescence of technology and art. The artist won the Hasselblad Award in 2016 for the experimentations in abstract photography. His works were showcased at four past editions of the Venice Biennale.
Featured image: Stan Douglas. Evaan Kheraj / Courtesy the artist, Victoria Miro and David Zwirner.
France - Zineb Sedira
Zineb Sedira, an Algerian French artist known for her politically-charged video installations and photographs, will represent France in the 59th edition of Venice Biennale. The artist exhibited at the renowned international institutions such as Musée d’Art Contemporain in Montreal, Tate Britain, and the Palais de Tokyo in Paris.
Through her practice, Sedira explores political and environmental issues primarily related to the experiences of Arab women, displacement, gender roles, and memory. She is the founder of ARIA, a residency program devoted to the development of the contemporary art scene in Algeria; her works can be found in the famous international collections, and Sedira is the first artist of Algerian descent to represent the country in the Venice Biennale.
Featured image: Zineb Sedira. Image by Kai Forsterling/Epa-Efe/Shutterstock.
Iceland - Sigurður Guðjónsson
Iceland announced its national pavilion at the 2021 Venice Biennale will feature the works by Sigurður Guðjónsson, who is known for his multimedia installations.
In recent years, he exhibited at various international institutions starting with the National Gallery of Iceland, over the Reykjavik Art Museum, and the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin, to the Bergen Kunsthall in Norway. In 2018 the artist received the prestigious Icelandic Art Prize for the exhibition Indoors and is known for collaborating with composers for multimedia installations and video works. Guðjónsson was selected as the country’s representative by the Icelandic Art Center.
Featured image: Sigurður Guðjónsson. Courtesy of Icelandic Art Center.
New Zealand - Yuki Kihara
New Zealand was the first country that announced its representative for the next edition of the Venice Biennale.
The pavilion will feature the works by Shigeyuki (Yuki) Kihara, who is known for her photographs, videos, and performances through which she critically explores dominant narratives from a postcolonial perspective. The artist exhibited at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and other venues, and she will be the first artist of Pacific descent to represent the country.
The pavilion will be curated by Natalie King, a professor at the University of Melbourne in Australia.
Featured image: Yuki Kihara – Portrait by Scott Lowe. Courtesy Creative New Zealand.
Switzerland - Latifa Echakhch
Switzerland has also announced their representative and that is Latifa Echakhch, known for politically charged installations and sculptures specifically focused on the issues of immigration and deconstruction of presumptions regarding identity, history, and religion.
The artist will produce a new sound-based piece in collaboration with composer Alexandre Babel and curator Francesco Stocchi. In 2013, she received the Marcel Duchamp Prize, and in 2015 the Zurich Art Prize, while continually exhibiting works at major biennials, including the Biennale de Lyon, the Sharjah Biennial, and others.
Featured image: Latifa Echakhch. Photo by Pro Helvetia/Keystone/Christian Beutler.
Finland - Pilvi Takala
Finland announced that their national pavilion will be represented by the artist Pilvi Takala, well known for her research-based practice focused on the critical exploration of behavioral norms and social structures.
The artist won the Dutch Prix de Rome in 2011, the Emdash Award in 2013, and the Finnish State Prize for Visual Arts in 2013. The exhibition will be curated by Christina Li, an independent curator and a former director of the Spring Workshop in Hong Kong, and produced by Frame Contemporary Art Finland.
Featured image: Curator Christina Li and Artist Pilvi Takala. Image by Ida Enegren / Frame Contemporary Art Finland.
United Kingdom - Sonia Boyce
The first artist to represent the United Kingdom in the post-Brexit era at the 59th Venice Biennale will be The British Afro-Caribbean artist Sonia Boyce who emerged on the art scene during the 1980s as part of the Black Arts Movement; she primarily deals with racial issues in her work expressed through different media spanning from performance to photography.
In 2016 she became a Royal Academician (Royal Academy of Arts), and a year later Boyce was awarded an MBE for services to art in 2007. She is a professor of Fine Arts at Middlesex University, London, and the University of the Arts, London. Boyce is also the first black artist to represent the UK in Italy.
Featured image: Sonia Boyce. Image by Paul Cochrane, courtesy of UAL.
Austria - Jakob Lena Knebl and Ashley Hans Scheirl
Announced by the State Secretary for Cultural Affairs Ulrike Lunacek as the artists representing Austria next year in Italy were Jakob Lena Knebl and Ashley Hans Scheir.
At the Austrian pavilion, curated by Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wein (MUMOK) director Karola Kraus, we can expect paintings, textile works, photographs, objects, audio and video works, and holograms in order to create “spaces of desire” which are meant to “confuse conventional ideas of museum presentations” and “undermine the hierarchies of art and design, of high and low.”
While Knebl focuses on textual sculpture, Scheirl experiments with film and moving images, as well as painting which she’s undertaken in recent years. The two artists often collaborate, creating mixed-media installations. In 2019, the duo also created a monumental artwork for the facade of Vienna’s city hall tower.
Featured image: Jakob Lena Knebl and Ashley Hans Scheirl. Photo: HBF/Trippolt.
The Netherlands - Melanie Bonajo
Working with a curatorial team consisting of Maaike Gouwenberg, Geir Haraldseth and Soraya Pol to represent The Netherlands in the 2021 Venice Biennale will be Melanie Bonajo, it was announced by the Mondriaan Fund.
Among the topics that Melanie Bonajo tackles through film are gender and equality, feminism, ecology, feelings of alienation, technological progress and the state of our society in general. For the occasion, Bonajo will produce a brand new film, as well as a publication in an extensive, wide-ranging setting. In a statement, the organizers say:
In Venice, Bonajo takes charge of the [human] body and hauls it up out of the claws of capitalism. Mel* absorbs you into The New Intimacy Movement. She challenges you to recognize and explore the body anew, as a means of connection, intimacy, touch and safety. You are swept along in adventures that stimulate all the senses: feeling is a form of intelligence, thinking through touch.
The Dutch presentation for the 59th Venice Biennale would take place at a new location in the city: the Chiesetta della Misericordia, a deconsecrated 13th-century church. Taking its former location is Estonia.
Featured image: Melanie Bonajo – Night Soil – Economy of Love, 2015, HD one-channel colour video with sound. Courtesy the artist & AKINCI.