Venice Biennale 2021: Here Are All the Artists Confirmed to Represent Their Countries at the Event (So Far)
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It’s only three months into 2020 and the influx of emails announcing which artists representing their respective countries at the 2021 Venice Biennale are already in full force. The 59th edition of the show, which will be under the direction of High Line creative director Cecilia Alemani, will be held from May through November 2021.
We will keep updating this list as more nations announce their artists, curators, themes, and venues.
Artist: Marco Fusinato
Curator: Alexie Glass-Kantor
Fun Fact: A native of Melbourne, Fusinato’s practice is all about amplifying sensory experiences by blurring the boundaries between music, sound, and visual art. In a work shown at the Syndey Biennial, he invited visitors to thwack a baseball bat attached to a steel chain at a plaster wall. The sound of bat-on-wall was amplified by hidden microphones the artist attached to a sound system, turning it up to 11.
Artists: Jakob Lena Knebl and Ashley Hans Scheirl
Curator: Karola Kraus, director of the Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien
Fun Fact: In the press announcement, Kraus noted that the installation would “lack neither humor nor satire,” something visitors have come to expect in the work of the artists, who frequently collaborate. The work will include a multitude of materials including photographs, paintings, video and audio works, and holograms meant to destabilize “conventional ideas of museum presentations.”
Knebl worked as a geriatric caretaker for a decade before turning to visual art, working with the likes of Raf Simons at the University of Applied Arts. Scheirl has worked in experimental film, but more recent works are focused on painting. In April 2019, the duo created a soaring “tower covering” for the facade of the Vienna City Hall tower while it undergoes restoration, featuring bright red figures, one seated atop the others shoulders and reaching up toward the sky to symbolize “an exclamation mark for this open-minded attitude” of the city.
Artist: Stan Douglas
Fun Fact: The Vancouver-based artist creates multi-media installations that blend fact and fiction, often with diverging narratives that propose alternate realities. Douglas has shown at the Venice Biennale multiple times, though this is the first time he’s representing his home country.
Artist: Pilvi Takala
Curator: Christina Li
Fun Fact: Takala, who was born in Helsinki, creates video works based on interventions she creates within mainstream public and private institutions. In The Stroker, Takala took on the role of a “wellness consultant” at a popular co-working space in East London, where she was employed to “provide touching services in the workplace.” The reactions of workers ranged from obvious discomfort to grudging acceptance of the atypical intimacy of strangers.
Artist: Zineb Sedira
Fun Fact: Sedira is the first artist of Algerian descent to represent France at the Venice Biennale. Born in Paris, the artist’s work draws largely on her experiences as the daughter of Algerian immigrants and raising a child in London’s multicultural Brixton neighborhood. In works such as Mother Tongue (2002), the artist acted as an interpreter as her daughter, mother, and herself attempted to speak to one another in their native languages.
Since the announcement of her appointment to represent France, Sedira has been criticized for allegedly having ties to the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which is a Palestinian-led organization that calls on the country to end its opposition and oppression of Palestinian citizens. Sedira has denied claims that she is part of the movement, calling it a mischaracterization of previously expressed political views.
Artist: Sonia Boyce
Fun Fact: Boyce is the first black woman chosen to represent Britain in the upcoming biennale, saying in a statement that “you could have knocked me down with a feather when I got the call.” The artist is a professor at the University of the Arts in London and rose to prominence in the 1980s with work that interpreted personal and more broadly social relationships to race, gender, and class.
Artist: Sigurður Guðjónsson
Fun Fact: The Helsinki-born artist began his career working in experimental artist-run venues in Reykjavik with self-described “dark and hypnotically moody videos” that engage the viewer’s senses, challenging the links between vision and hearing. The artist often collaborates with musicians, and his most recent work, titled Enigma, was created in partnership with composer Anna Thorvaldsdóttir. The work has been performed around the world by the SpektralQuartet group, accompanied by a video inspired by the view of fragmented coal seen through an electron microscope.
Artist: Melanie Bonajo
Curators: Maaike Gouwenberg, Geir Haraldseth, and Soraya Pol
Venue: Chiesetta della Misericordia, Campo dell’Abbazia 3550, Cannaregio (The Mondriaan Fund has invited Estonia to make use of the Netherland’s Rietveld Pavilion at the Giardini for the 2021 Venice Biennale)
Fun Fact: Bonajo creates lush videos, photography installations, and performances heavily influenced by the concept of the divine. A self-proclaimed eco-feminist, her works explore body politics, equality, and community, especially how these issues are affected with the technological advances and an increased sense of alienation. With colorful images, the artist probes how the millennial generation’s relationships with nature, domesticity, and identity have evolved.
Artist: Shigeyuki (Yuki) Kihara
Curator: Natalie King
Fun Fact: The Samoan and Japanese artist Yuki Kihara’s work explores the historic and contemporary representation of Pacific societies. One of their best known works is the photographic series called Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going? (2013), named after Paul Gaugin’s painting of Tahiti.
The series is based on staged postcards of the South Seas, in which they untangle the myth of a Pacific paradise by posing as a 19th-century Samoan woman posed at sites around Samoa in the aftermath of the devastating 2009 tsunami and 2012 cyclone.
Artist: Latifa Echakhch in collaboration with composer Alexandre Babel
Curator: Francesco Stocchi
Fun Fact: The Moroccan-born artist currently lives in Switzerland and has been racking up international accolades and prizes, including the Prix Marcel Duchamp in 2013. Echakhch’s work deconstructs symbols and objects inherently linked to specific cultures and places to upend the viewer’s assumptions.
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