Venice Biennale 2011 - National Pavilions @ Giardini

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Venice Biennale 2011 - National Pavilions @ Giardini

Last week, we visited The Venice Bienniale. Below some of our favorite pavilions. If you want to have an overview of all the pavilions, feel free to have a look here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/happyfamousartists/collections/721576267752...

** Thomas Hirschhorn, Swiss Pavilion **

Entering the Swiss pavilion in Giardini is surrendering to the world of Thomas Hirschhorn. With "Crystal Of Resistance" the artist has created a world apart, filled with amazing installations and funny details - you'll either love it or you'll hate it (most likely the first!).
Judging from a recent quote from Hirschhorn this was also the goal:
"I have never produced an artwork especially for a context. I am not interested in contexts, since I believe in the autonomy of Art. Art is autonomous and such autonomy is what gives it beauty and makes it absolute".

Photos of the Swiss Pavilion: http://www.flickr.com/photos/happyfamousartists/sets/72157626899924178/

** Hany Armanious, Australian Pavilion **

The Australian Pavilion created quite some buzz for its tote bags, which were all gone after 2 days. But although we missed the bags, we discovered an artist who's worth at least the same amount of buzz.

Agreed, at first glance Hany Armanious didn't put up a super production. As an uninformed viewer, you even risk to see an almost random selection of found objects. At closer look however - and thanks to the explanations of Adam Jasper who we met at the pavilion - a whole new world opens: what looks like wood is actually cast in iron, resin, or another rare and expensive material; what seems to be found in the street is carefully produced in artist studio. And the longer you walk through the pavilion the more the objects start interfering with each other.
Yet one of the works on display completely inverts this logic: the Burger King crown. This gold-colored paper party toy becomes a genuine gold-plated crown decorated with precious stones. What you see is what you get, quite unexpectedly.
A truly great show, worth every buzz possible!

Photos of the Australian Pavilion: http://www.flickr.com/photos/happyfamousartists/sets/72157626899891892/

** Allora & Calzadilla, U.S. Pavilion **

The U.S. Pavilion is definitely one of the most spectacular of what the Giardini part of the Biennale has to offer. Allora & Calzadilla have mixed installation, modern dance, sound and sculpture to create a story about sports, militarism, democratic struggles and bodily transformation and have called the whole piece Gloria.

Each work on its own is impressive and evokes very different feelings. Although an obvious choice, we just loved the bombastic installation in front of the entrance. The tank is powerful, in-your-face dominant but at the same time - by being upside down and transformed into a running belt - it can be seen as an ironic and sharp critique on politics and power games. The work plays with the similarities between the world of sports and military or with the Olympic games and the Biennale.
Inside the pavilion, the show continues further: a freedom statute stuffed inside a sun bed is installed in the entrance hall, in the adjoining rooms athletes perform on sculptures created from airplane seats and a huge custom made pipe organ with an functioning built-in ATM fills the back room. This interactive work called Algorithm felt like the perfect symbol for capitalism in role of global religion. As such, getting money out of the ATM has become a sacred practice, comparable to communion or confession.

We queued in the line and got €50 out of the organ... awesome experience... :-)
Unfortunately the receipt didn't mention Allora & Calzadilla, which would have made it completely divine!

Photos of the US Pavilion: http://www.flickr.com/photos/happyfamousartists/sets/72157626901002846/

** Sigalit Landau, Israeli Pavilion **

With One man's floor is another man's feelings, Sigalit Landau has put up a poetic and highly political show in the Israeli Pavilion.

Water, and access to it, plays a vital role in the Middle East region since decades. In Landau's installation water becomes the central metaphor. Upon entering the Pavilion, one is confronted with huge industrial pipe lines and water meters stacked "like veins irrigating a body". On the top floor, the absence of water is most striking in the work Salt Crystal Fishing Net: a fishing net that has become a sculpture of salt crystals from the dead sea.
Laces and Salt Bridge Summit debate are two videos discussing political topics. The individual works fit into a very strong, poetic story or as the press release mentions: "Like salt deposited on an object or penetrating a wound, the journey that Sigalit Landau is plotting for Venice crystallize the fears and hopes of these uncertain times".

Photos of the Israeli Pavilion: http://www.flickr.com/photos/happyfamousartists/sets/72157626775532227/

** Christian Boltanski, French Pavilion **

In the French Pavilion, Christian Boltanski presents several monumental installations under the common title Change.
The main space of the pavilion is dominated by The Wheel of Fortune: a huge strip of photographs of newborns running through a room-filling construction of what looks like an industrial newspaper press machine. The photos have a high Boltanski factor but combined with the noise of the machines and the speed of the moving images, the work becomes much more extravert than his former installation pieces.
The side wings of the pavilion are occupied with almost identical installations: a series of colored digital numbers on big computer screens. In one room the numbers are green (representing newborns) in the other red (representing deaths). Seems that on global level birth outnumbers death by 200.000 a day!
The last room shows an interactive piece in which portraits of 60 Polish newborns and 52 deceased Swiss are cut into 3 parts and randomly assembled on a big screen. As a viewer you can press a button and freeze the screen. If you happen to have the right combination of the 3 facial parts, you walk home with your own Boltanski. Pas mal, àlors... ;-)

> photos of the French Pavilion: http://www.flickr.com/photos/happyfamousartists/sets/72157626900004090/

Christoph Schlingensief, German Pavilion

A Church of Fear vs. the Alien Within is the title of total installation transforming the German pavilion at Giardini into a church of the artist's - Christoph Schlingensief - youth. The artist conceived this installation in 2008 as second part of his illness trilogy. Suffering from lung cancer to which he succumbed last year, he hasn't been able to see the project till its end. Instead, it has been completed posthumously by the pavilion curator Susanne Gaensheimer and Schlingensief's wife Aino Laberenz.

The installation has been awarded this years' Golden Lion prize for national pavilions. Very sad that the artist couldn't accept this prestigious award in person anymore.

> photos of the German Pavilion: http://www.flickr.com/photos/happyfamousartists/sets/72157626900127976/

Posted by: Happy Famous Artists

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