Artists Petrit Halilaj and Álvaro Urbano Have Filled a 9th-Century Venetian Church With a Fantastical Menagerie—Crowned by a Giant Floating Egg
San Lorenzo di Venezia, burial place of Marco Polo, is currently home to the installation "Lunar Ensemble for Uprising Seas."
A wondrous new universe is emerging inside of an ancient church—courtesy of the artists Petrit Halilaj and Álvaro Urbano. The duo has rendered an entire hybrid animal kingdom in a menagerie of sculptures—just one component of the new installation that was unveiled today in Venice, Italy.
The Saint Lorenzo church is the locale for Lunar Ensemble for Uprising Seas, a speculative ecosystem that blends art with mythology, sci-fi, and history. This grandiose piece, which is an entire multimedia sensory experience, is up until November 3, and the artists have packed many narratives (and genres!) within.
On one side of the church, a majestic and serene egg hangs suspended, seemingly floating above, presiding like a celestial body. A world of fantastical animals is here too, with 30 sculptures that embody aquatic, terrestrial, and avian qualities. These creatures’ metallic surfaces reflect light, pulling in the sublime interior of the deconsecrated house of worship. Each artwork also doubles as a musical instrument—human interaction triggers music boxes and other aural mechanisms.
The Berlin-based pair Halilaj and Urbano are a couple but rarely work together. The work explores the space between realities and societal norms, as well as raising many environmental concerns. The Spanish traditional song “Ay mi pescadito” was the jump-off for their creation. They explained in an artist’s statement: “The work blurs our binary sense of the world. An egg-shaped moon, aquatic creatures becoming terrestrial and aerial, an orchestra playing a symphony that emerges from the waters and syncs with the moon cycles; these and more stories guide our show at Ocean Space. The installation echoes a children’s song, where young fish go to school at the bottom of the sea in order to study forms of resistance.”
Throughout the piece’s installation, various musicians and performers will be on hand to activate the sculptures’ musical potential. There will also be seagull costumes to let the attendees become animals and merge with the piece. The artists will don the gull costumes at two performances.
The installation is on view with free admission and is one of two works that comprise “Thus waves come in pairs,” Ocean Space’s 2023 exhibition. “Lunar Ensemble for Uprising Seas” is a co-commission between TBA21–Academy and Audemars Piguet Contemporary.
Lunar Ensemble for Uprising Seas is on view Wednesday–Sunday, 11 a.m.–6 p.m. at Ocean Space Chiesa di San Lorenzo Castello 5069 30122 Venice
Follow Artnet News on Facebook:
Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.