54th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. Iceland Pavilion. Interview with Libia Castro and Ólafur Ólafsson.

Iceland Pavilion – 54th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia.  Under Deconstruction. Libia Castro and Ólafur Ólafsson interviewed by Ilari Valbonesi.

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The official Icelandic representation at the 54th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia is the Spanish-Icelandic duo Libia Castro & Ólafur Ólafsson. Castro and Ólafsson’s exhibition for Venice, Under Deconstruction, presents four new works. Among their concerns is an interest in socio-economic and political issues in Iceland and elsewhere. The title of the project refers to Castro and Ólafsson’s central artistic strategy to subvert traditional power relations and to deconstruct established patterns of perception in an attempt to re-construct, appropriate and reinvent reality anew.

Your Country Doesn’t Exist is an ongoing campaign, begun at Platform Garanti CAC in Istanbul in 2003, and has since developed to include different forms and formats. The piece traveled the world spreading the message, “Your country doesn’t exist” in different languages and through various visual modes, including billboards, TV advertisements, postage stamps and wall-drawings. In this new iteration in Venice, the statement is used in a neon sign, Il Tuo Paese Non Esiste (2011), on the façade of the Pavilion. It was also incorporated into a musical arrangement for mezzo soprano, guitar and trumpet commissioned from the Icelandic composer Karólína Eiríksdóttir, and performed on a gondola in the canals of Venice. The video displayed in the pavilion documents the performance in dialogue with different aspects of the city and its omnipresent touristic reality, while the audio recording of the song is broadcast in public space. The fourth part of the series is a “Do-it-Yourself” painting done by the Icelandic ambassador Gunnar Snorri Gunnarsson in February 2011, in collaboration with the artists.