Written by: Dragan Vojvodić //

This year’s edition of the Venice Art Biennale has a pronounced feminist character due to the number of present female artists at the Central Exhibition, the issues they problematize through their works, and the awarded prizes. This historical Biennale, as many perceive it, has not brought anything new in terms of conceptual and ideational aspects to the Central Exhibition. On the contrary, the segments of the Central Exhibition in the Giardini Park and the Arsenale have shifted my focus of interest to specific national pavilions that have offered different exhibition concepts and implementations. The exhibitions and artists presented in the national pavilions, discussed in the following text, are exclusively my personal choice and do not represent any official selection.

1. German Pavilion / Relocating a Structure / Maria Eihon

Relocating a Structure, Maria Eihon

German artist Maria Eihon, in the project „Relocating a Structure,“ engages with the history of the national pavilion, its deconstruction, and the establishment of relationships with the location it occupies and other pavilions in the Giardini Park. Despite their architectural differences, they form a unique entity.

The initial idea of relocating the pavilion itself during the 59th Biennale was likely abandoned due to technical infeasibility. The potential absence of the German Pavilion would have expanded the space originally intended for the park within the already confined urban area of Venice. The void that would have emerged could have opened up space for movement and contemplation about exhibition concepts beyond national pavilions.

Since that couldn’t be realized, Maria Eihon deconstructs the German national pavilion, reducing it to a physical structure within which two buildings are located: one from Bavaria built in 1909, and a Nazi extension from 1938. Specifically, within the pavilion’s spaces, at precisely chosen points, she removes plaster from the walls, opens holes in the floor and foundations, revealing the architectural seams crafted in 1938, thereby establishing a connection to a certain historical period.

By engaging with the physical structure of the pavilion, she directs her project on multiple levels. Apart from creating space for understanding the past, she establishes relationships with other national pavilions, problematizes the national-territorial relationship, confronts different economies and politics, raises questions about sustainable ecological development, and more.

2. Pavilion of Spain / Correction / Ignasi Abalji

Correction, Ignasi Abalji

I assume that most visitors to the Pavilion of Spain when confronted with the emptiness within it, did not notice specific structural changes. The whiteness spreading from the ceilings and walls grabs the attention of the audience and leaves them puzzled.

Spanish artist Ignasi Abalji, much like German artist Maria Eihon, places the architectural design of the pavilion at the center of his project. The location where it was erected, at the corner of the Giardini Park, adjacent to its entrance, resulted in the Pavilion of Spain not being aligned properly with the park’s boundaries, as well as with the neighboring Pavilion of Belgium.

In his work, Abalji attempts to temporarily rectify this architectural mistake or intention. Thus, he rotates the interior space of the pavilion by 10 degrees to position it parallel to the adjacent pavilion. Within the pavilion, he constructs a replica of the internal structure with all partition walls and passageways, which, when rotated, cuts into the masses of the permanent walls. All passageways narrow, gallery spaces deform slightly, and narrow arrow-like niches open up between the double structure.

Through his temporary intervention, the artist proposes the hypothesis that the actual position of the pavilion is a mistake, raising the question of what would happen if this pavilion were aligned with its neighboring one, and what implications such a correction would bring about.

The artist further charts this precisely executed architectural intervention onto the map of Giardini Park and the plan of Venice, expanding the potential impact of his intervention. In this second part of his project, Abalji attempts to shift the focus of perception from the artwork to the city plan, whose appearance and condition paradoxically contrast with the fact that it is likely one of the most attractive cities in the world from a tourist standpoint.

3. Pavilion of Australia / Disasters / Marco Fusinato

Desasters, Marko Fusinato

At the entrance to the Pavilion of Australia, a sign is placed: Warning, the installation contains high-intensity sound and fast-moving light – it’s a kind of invitation to a different reception, experience, and understanding.

Australian musician and conceptual artist Marco Fusinato has created an experimental sound project within a darkened space. This project synchronizes live guitar sound with projected images on a screen. The work is presented in the pavilion as a long-duration solo performance in the form of an installation. To amplify and distort the sound to a level of noise, Fusinato constructs an audio system that generates, emits, and re-records previously played sound, creating a closed loop in which the sound distorts to a deafening level of noise, pushing the system to its limits.

By improvising various sound intensities, and their synchronized or unsynchronized durations, Fusinato syncs the sound with the LED screen’s images, which extend from the floor to the ceiling. The sound triggers the image, bringing the auditory and visual elements of the work to a vibrant crescendo.

The images projected on the LED screen are generated through various online searches based on specific concepts. In this way, different, unrelated, randomly selected images are juxtaposed within the same context. These images appear on the LED screen at a speed dictated by the sound generated in the live solo performance. Thus, the audio-visual installation becomes a product of the performance, with its rhythm and duration determined by the artist himself. He creates an environment composed of disconnected audio-visual performances that directly impact the audience, generating a series of metaphors that align with the work’s title.

4. Pavilion of Uruguay / Persona / Gerardo Goldwasser

Persona, Gerardo Goldwasser

In the project „Persona,“ Gerardo Goldwasser starts from the family history of German immigrants in Uruguay in the 1930s and the tailoring craft as a part of that history. A significant portion of his artistic practice is linked to the tailoring craft, which implies certain thoughts and attitudes, as well as tailoring drawing that encompasses established rules, standards, repetitions, referencing tradition, personal history, and general culture.

Goldwasser offers an entire aspect of human culture, behavior, and civilization norms: the culture of clothing, which determines various aspects of personality, both social and individual. He connects an individual’s personality with their appearance, questioning to what extent appearance defines a person and whether the complex structure of personality can be understood based on it.

He realizes this philosophically framed idea through a conceptual, minimalist monochromatic sculptural form – oversized black bundles of felt that occupy nearly the entire space of the pavilion. Interactive performance is carried out by a professional tailor, who, while taking tailoring measurements, engages with interested visitors as a psychologist.

The way in which the author has executed the „Persona“ project establishes a relationship between personality and appearance – exteriority, a complex connection that reflects not only on an individual level but also collectively. Tailor-made patterns applied to the bundles of felt, along with the repetitive performative execution, point to a socio-political destructive aspect that is omnipresent in the contemporary moment, reflecting in it as a crisis that multiplies and metastasizes.

Implicitly posed by this project is the question of whether the modern individual is being shaped into a machine that not only destroys everything around but also contains the seed of self-destruction.

5. Pavilion of Croatia / Untitled / Tomo Savić Gecan

Untitled, Tomo Savić Gecan

The sense of emptiness in the Pavilion of Spain, which conceals any structural or significant changes within it, finds its conceptual materialization in the project by Croatian artist Tomo Savić Gecan. Gecan creates a work rooted in conceptual and avant-garde artistic practice that places visuality in a subordinate position, negating certain conventions in exhibition practices.

The artist departs from the notion of exhibiting in the national pavilion, effectively leaving behind the concept of exhibiting altogether. Instead, he realizes his work – an idea he intentionally refrains from naming – extraterritorially, specifically outside national-territorial coordinates, delving into issues more relevant to humanity as a whole. Gecan doesn’t possess his own exhibition space. His concept is enacted by algorithmically selecting and sending internet news from around the world, disseminated through numerous media, to the mobile phones of five professional dancers. These dancers then react in the form of an artistic choreography in a space borrowed from another nation’s pavilion, at a predetermined and precisely defined time. The dancers not only receive instructions for movement but also directives on what to contemplate during the execution of the choreography they have devised. They perform the prescribed choreography in a barely noticeable manner, several times a day, at various locations within different national pavilions.

For Gecan, this physical presence is a necessity that, due to its performative nature, ironically accentuates the absence he emphasizes. He creates a space for contemplation at the expense of physical presence, a mental space where various references reflected in this work can be observed.

„Untitled“ is a metaphor for the times we live in – an era of disinformation, fake news, the post-truth era facilitated by new information technologies, the internet, and social media. Designed to serve humanity, these tools turn against it; by utilizing internet platforms and various social networks, people are, in reality, being controlled and monitored.









Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.