55th International Art Exhibition. La Biennale di Venezia – Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva – Macedonia Pavilion

MACEDONIA, Former Yugoslavian Republic of
Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva
Commissioner: Halide Paloshi. Curator: Ana Frangovska. 
Venue: Scuola dei Laneri, Santa Croce 113/A

Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva presents a major new installation work, Silentio Pathologia, at the Scuola dei Laneri, commissioned by the National Gallery of Macedonia, working with curator Ana Frangovska for the 55th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia.

Silentio Pathologia draws upon her original proposal to the Ministry of Culture of Macedonia, which reflected upon the movement, migration and impact of medieval plagues through Europe (and city states such as Venice) and considers contemporary concerns about international migratory illnesses such as coronavirus. This ambitious work includes woven silk, silkworm cocoons, rat skins and curtains of steel sheet installed in a Venetian palazzo. Drawing upon her established and highly regarded practice of extended periods of working and embellishing multiple objects into large-scale art installations; this is a signature artwork for the 55th international Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia.


The rats from which the skins in Elpida’s exhibition came, were sourced from animal feed suppliers and usually form part of the diet of large carnivorous birds and mammals, reptiles and snakes kept in captivity. Elpida’s use of these skins is intended to highlight the continuing market in animals, their skins and other products around the world, and reflects Elpida’s use of original materials in her art works, however distasteful. By presenting the real to audiences as part of a constructed art work, people are confronted with the unvarnished truth about animals, markets and commodification of animal products.

The live rats in the exhibition are sourced from an italian pet supplier and have been trained as pets, they are handled daily, and are looked after as recommended by rat husbandry experts.

All of Elpida’s works are made reflecting the places and locations where the work is made and/or displayed and to a large degree she makes use of discarded or recycled materials. She has never initiated or commissioned, and never intends to, harm any animal.