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Sandra Gamarra Heshiki Spanish Pavilion

7 Must-See Venice Pavilions: Taiwan, Spain, Saudi Arabia, and More

Here we spotlight the pavilions you won’t want to miss, including the Denmark, Spain, Netherlands, Romania, Iceland, Taiwan, and Saudi Arabia Pavilions.

The 60th Venice Biennale, opening this week, brings together an international community of artists with the theme of “Foreigners Everywhere.” Here we spotlight how seven Venice pavilions have brought this theme to life, including the Denmark, Spain, Netherlands, Romania, Iceland, Taiwan, and Saudi Arabia Pavilions.

Inuuteq Storch Portrays Greenland in “Rise of the Sunken Sun” at the Denmark Pavilion

Inuuteq Storch Denmark Pavilion

From the series “Soon Will Summer be Over” (2023), courtesy of Inuuteq Storch.

The Denmark Pavilion will be showcasing “Rise of the Sunken Sun,” a photography exhibition by  Greenlandic artist Inuuteq Storch, curated by Louise Wolthers. The exhibition comprises hundreds of photographs spanning six thematic photographic series: “Sunsets of Forgotten Moments,” “Mirrored,” “Keepers of the Ocean,” “At Home We Belong,” “Soon Will Summer be Over,” and “Necromancer.”  

The photographs offer a nuanced portrayal of Greenland, a self-governing entity within the Kingdom of Denmark. Storch’s work, including personal snapshots from his hometown of Sisimiut, images from his family’s archives, and historical photographs by John Møller, aims to highlight the complexities of national, cultural, and personal identities. Musical compositions and soundscapes complement the imagery, and a sculptural piece resembling a red, glowing halved disk evokes the Arctic sunset and symbolizes the Greenlandic flag and traditional Inuit beliefs. 

“The exhibition and my works serve as my artistic means to subtly and intricately modify the prevailing perception of my country,” Storch said. “It’s an invitation – an opportunity to explore Greenland through my lens. I extend an invitation to the public, welcoming them to visit my home and experience the nuanced narrative I aim to convey through my art.”

The Spain Pavilion’s Migrant Art Gallery Exposes Historically Silenced Narratives with Artist Sandra Gamarra

Sandra Gamarra Heshiki Spanish Pavilion

Sandra Gamarra Heshiki, “Virgin Land IV,” 2024, pigment and fake gold leaf on canvas, 170 x 195 cm, photo by Oak Taylor-Smith.

Developed by artist Sandra Gamarra and curated by Agustín Pérez Rubio, the Migrant Art Gallery at the Spain Pavilion brings together a hundred paintings that reframe the Spanish narrative from a migrant perspective. The migrant experience illuminated through the gallery includes all living beings that were displaced by force: humans, plants, and raw materials.

The pavilion encompasses five rooms that surround a central open space. Each of the five rooms–“Virgin Land,” “Cabinet of Extinction,” “Cabinet of Illustrated Racism,” “Mestiza Masks,” and “Altarpiece of Dying Nature”–features a theme from classical painting traditions, reimagined to frame Spanish history as one of racism, colonialism, migration and extractivism. From landscape, still life, scientific illustration, and portraiture, the galleries present the artworks as tools with political agendas.

All five rooms lead to the central open space, occupied by the Migrant Garden. Twelve monuments adorn the garden alongside representations of alien or invasive plants. The monuments, which depict key characters from colonized communities, present a counter-narrative to the historical museum and symbolize the restitution for the historical erasure and silencing of migrant narratives.

Artist Collective CATPC Challenges Colonial Legacies at the Netherlands Pavilion

CATPC Netherlands Pavilion

Ced’art Tamasala (CATPC), Matthieu Kasiama (CATPC), Renzo Martens, Hicham Khalidi, Mbuku Kimpala (CATPC), photo by ©Koos_Breukel.

Artist collective Cercle d’Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise (CATPC) in collaboration with artist Renzo Martens and curator Hicham Khalidi will be presenting new sculptures as a part of their mission to advocate for the plantation of Lusanga to be freed, regenerated and transformed back into sacred forests. The exhibition will be on display at the Rietveld Pavilion in Venice and simultaneously in the White Cube in Lusanga.

“Restitution will be a major theme of the presentation,” Eelco van der Lingen, director of the Mondriaan Fund and commissioner, said. “This is a topical issue within the global heritage sector and within a broader debate about coloniality. It is essential to have a conversation about this and I am happy that we can contribute to it on a big stage.”

The CATPC artists created the sculptures from the earth of the dwindling forests around plantations, then later cast the sculptures in the raw materials harvested from the land. The sculptures are meant to present a spiritual, ethical, and economic reckoning. CATPC believes that it is time for art institutes throughout the world to support reconciliation and actively engage with indigenous communities as they reclaim their land. Their artistic endeavors enable them to buy back confiscated land and regenerate the sacred forests.

Șerban Savu’s “What Work Is” at The Romania Pavilion Explores Work and Leisure

Șerban Savu Romania Pavilion

Șerban Savu, “Saint Christopher,” 2022, oil on canvas, 138×195 cm, courtesy Galeria Plan B, Berlin.

Romanian artist Șerban Savu will be presenting his exhibition, “What Work Is” for the Romanian Pavilion, curated by Ciprian Mureșan. The exhibition will be showcased simultaneously at the Giardini della Biennale and at The New Gallery of the Romanian Institute of Culture and Humanistic Research in Venice.

The collection of paintings, which spans 15 years of Savu’s work, centers around the theme of work and leisure. Savu draws from the iconography of labor throughout history, focusing on historical realism and the propaganda art of the Eastern Bloc. The Romania Pavilion addresses La Biennale di Venezia’s theme “Foreigners Everywhere” by capturing the consequences of political and economic limbo, particularly as it affects migratory work. The paintings portray the indistinction between work and leisure, labor and belonging, and other reflections of societal crises.

Brussels-based graphic design studio Atelier Brenda will be placing large-scale design messaging on the façade and in the lobby of the pavilion in a study in non-ideological propaganda.

Objects of Global Production Take New Meaning at the Iceland Pavilion with Artist Hildigunnur Birgisdóttir

Hilidigunnur Birgisdóttir Iceland Pavilion

Hilidigunnur Birgisdóttir, “Friður (Peace),” courtesy of the artist and i8 Gallery, Reykjavik/

Reykjavik-based artist Hildigunnur Birgisdóttir is collaborating with American curator Dan Byers to bring the Iceland Pavilion to life. Drawing inspiration from the affective possibilities of often-overlooked items such as computer buttons, plastic clips, hang tags, and stickers, Birgisdóttir’s sculptural and installation works explore concepts of beauty, utility, and value. Her presentation offers unnervingly distorted scales of mundane displays, subverting the expectations of the everyday products of global production and consumerism. 

‘‘I look forward to taking my works to the Biennale and airing them out on the grand terrace of the art world,” Birgisdóttir said. “There will be a wall bound wall piece, among other scenarios. I’m excited to have Dan on my team, to make sense of it all.”

Birgisdóttir and Byers are working together to produce an aesthetically subversive pavilion that plays with the standard conventions of display.

Yuan Goang-Ming Displays the Everyday War of Domestic Life for the Taiwan Pavilion

YUAN Goang-Ming Taiwan Pavilion

YUAN Goang-Ming, “Everyday Maneuver,” 2018, © YUAN Goang-Ming, courtesy of the artist

The Taipei Fine Arts Museum will be presenting Yuan Goang-Ming’sEveryday War,” a collection of five video artworks and a kinetic installation, in a poetic examination of everyday domestic struggles and the realities of life. Goang-Ming’s works present poignant portrayals of the small details of life, like the placement of objects in a bedroom, in order to create an air of warning of the constant potential for unanticipated crises. These artworks project anxieties about the pervasive anxiety caused by geopolitical tension surrounding the Pacific island chain, across the straits and conflicts everywhere.

“This solo exhibition will try to metaphorically explore the hidden fears and threats of Taiwan in its current state of existence, and by asking questions about the future, it will re-examine the realities of the present, considering ‘war as part of normal life’ and ‘war becoming the new normal,” Goang-Ming said. 

The exhibition is curated by Abby Chen, the Head of Contemporary Art and Senior Associate Curator at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. Chen’s involvement in the global art scene offers the Taiwan Pavilion a contemporary approach to initiate dialogues about cultural exchanges with the art world.

Manal AlDowayan’s “Shifting Sands: A Battle Song” for the Saudi Arabia Pavilion Sings the Voices of A Thousand Women

Manal AlDowayan, Shifting Sands: A Battle Song, 2024

Manal AlDowayan, Shifting Sands: A Battle Song, 2024. Multimedia installation, Tussar silk, ink, acrylic paint. Dimensions variable. Sound, multichannel, 30’48”. Photography by venicedocumentationproject. Courtesy of the Visual Arts Commission, the Commissioner for the National Pavilion of Saudi Arabia.

Manal AlDowayan’s “Shifting Sands: A Battle Song” brings together the work of over a thousand Saudi Arabian women to represent the country at the Saudi Arabia Pavilion. Over the course of three workshops in Al Khobar, Jeddah, and Riyadh, women of all ages created the singing recordings, texts, and drawings that are featured in AlDowayan’s project. AlDowayan encouraged the women to reflect on their visibility and invisibility in global media and the evolving role of women in Saudi Arabia.

“For this artwork, I have returned to my community of women and asked the questions: what is the history that needs to be written through this work? What is the marker of transformation that needs to be examined?” AlDowayan said. “Shifting Sands: A Battle Song is a call for solidarity in the context of the global representation of women in and from Saudi Arabia, and a rally to take ownership of our identity as we navigate both the physical space we inhabit and the narratives that have historically defined us.”

The multimedia installation is curated by Jessica Cerasi and Maya El Khalil and assistant curator Shadin AlBulaihed.

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Minjung Kim

THE SPRING ARTIST ISSUE
2023

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The 60th edition of the Venice Biennale is currently on view, bringing together some of the most celebrated emerging and established artists in the world. We’ve compiled some of the best exhibitions on display.
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As we get ready for the 60th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, open April 20—November 24, 2024, we’re sharing the must-see Venice Pavilions.

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