55th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia – Polish Pavilion : Konrad Smoleński

polishKonrad Smoleński

Polish Pavilion Commissioner: Hanna Wróblewska
Exhibition Curators: Daniel Muzyczuk and Agnieszka Pindera
Assistant Commissioner: Joanna Waśko

Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More by Konrad Smoleński is a continuation of the previous explorations of this artist, who, being active for over a decade in the domain of visual arts, focusses his interest on sound. His works in the Polish Pavilion combine punk rock aesthetics with the precision and elegance typical for minimalism. Smoleński, through the use of sound objects found in the culture as well as of his own construction, examines the flow and effect of energy. By exploring the possibilities of electricity, sound waves and PA systems, the artist manipulates the meanings that we usually attribute to objects connected with the culture of rock music.

The monumental installation authored by Smoleński, in the image of a symphony, will regularly repeat a piece composed for traditional bronze bells, full-range speakers and other sonorous objects placed in the space of the Polish Pavilion. All the elements will play an equal part in this composition meant as both a visual and audio construction, where the delaying and modifying of the initial sound of the bell is of critical importance. The curators engage in a discussion of the treatment, to which the artist subjects the sound of a traditional instrument through the perspective of contemporary literary texts and scientific theories, which concur in their conviction of the inaccuracy or atrophy of the concept of time. Among them we find the hypotheses that challenge the classical understanding of these problems in physics, science-fiction stories, as well as in scientific elaborations on experiments and sound illusion. By this means, the dialogue of the artist with the curators of the exhibition will result in a vision of the dissolution of language and the end of time and history as we know it, without placing a value judgement on this phenomenon.

The exhibition is accompanied by a publication featuring texts by Craig Dworkin, Alexandra Hui, Andrey Smirnov, as well as Daniel Muzyczuk and Agnieszka Pindera, who, in their previous projects undertaken together or individually, have already commented on the problems pertaining to the field of the history of science and sound. Supplementing this interdisciplinary book are interviews with a physicist Julian Barbour, philosopher Simon Critchley, a legend of electro acoustic music Eugeniusz Rudnik, and the curator Thibaut de Ruyter.

Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More
Konrad Smolenski
Commissioner: Hanna Wróblewska. Curators: Agnieszka Pindera, Daniel Muzyczuk. Venue: Pavilion at Giardini

The full version of the exhibition’s title taken from the book of Alexei Yurchak:Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More. The Last Soviet Generation.

Konrad Smoleński (b. 1977) graduated from the Poznań Academy of Fine Arts (2002). He has shown his work in numerous exhibitions at the following venues, among others: Ludwig Museum, Budapest; Pinchuk Art Center, Kyiv; Museum Morsbroich, Leverkusen; Waterside Contemporary, London; Offen auf AEG, Nuremberg; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; and Zachęta — National Gallery of Art, Warsaw. Holder of the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage fellowship (2000). Winner of the Deutsche Bank Foundation Award — Views 2011. He lives and works in Warsaw (PL) and Bern (CH).

Organizer of the exhibition: Zachęta — National Gallery of Art, Warsaw

Polish participation in the 55th International Art Exhibition in Venice was made possible through the financial support of Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland.

55th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia – Norway Pavilion

Beware of the Holy Whore: Edvard Munch, Lene Berg and the Dilemma of Emancipation

Commissioner: Office for Contemporary Art Norway (OCA). Curators: Marta Kuzma, Pablo Lafuente, Angela Vettese.

Venue: Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa, Galleria di Piazza San Marco 71/C


Beware of the Holy Whore: Edvard Munch, Lene Berg and the Dilemma of Emancipation is a project organised by the Office for Contemporary Art Norway (OCA) and Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa in Venice, as the official Norwegian representation at the 55th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia in 2013.

The exhibition, which includes a series of rarely exhibited works by Edvard Munch in addition to a newly commissioned film by Lene Berg, revolves around emancipation as an issue always vexed with contradiction—between the realm of freedom and the consequences of the isolation that often accompany the pursue of a qualitatively different, ‘alternative’ life.

In his Essay on Liberation, Herbert Marcuse notes that the striving toward a ‘new sensibility’ involves a psychedelic, narcotic release from the rationality of an established system, as well as from the logic that attempts to change that system. Such new sensibility, which resides in the gap between the existing order and true liberation, might lead to a radical transformation—and in this shift art functions as a technique through which to reconstruct reality from its illusion, its imitation, its harmony, towards a matter not yet given, still to be realised.

The impulse to operate in the margins—on the outside trying to break in or on the inside redefining the context—is one of the key driving forces in the history of art, and is also at the centre of Beware of the Holy Whore: Edvard Munch, Lene Berg and the Dilemma of Emancipation. The exhibition, curated by Marta Kuzma, Director, OCA, Angela Vettese, President, Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa and Pablo Lafuente, Associate Curator, OCA, explores the relationship between art, its social context and changing gender relationships, both in the age of emancipation in which Munch lived and today.

At the beginning of the 20th century, sexual norms and traditional gender roles were questioned amid new psychological theories of sex and politics and a struggle for women’s equality. Challenged by such developments, Munch faced the alienation that characterised the Christiania Bohemia, a society bidding for emancipation but trapped in ‘reality’, struggling between two options: assimilating shared values, or going beyond them in order to construct a new frame for perception. Munch’s emphatic treatment of these themes from 1902 to 1908, before entering the asylum, reflected an internal ambiguity and anguish. Afterwards, his work moved to a more distanced treatment of subjects, in social caricatures in which he offers an ironic critique of an increasingly capitalist and permissive society.

These issues are echoed in Lene Berg’s Dirty Young Loose (2013), a film that concentrates on three characters who are interrogated about their roles as either victims or perpetrators in a complex situation. The film explores the interpretation of human behaviour based on preconceptions about roles and norms. Just like the exhibition as a whole, the film presents the deconstruction of an original scene which functions as a catalyst for a revision of the politics of liberation, of gender struggle and of internal conflict—the dilemma of emancipation.

Additional events:
‘A Discussion with Peter Watkins and a Screening of Edvard Munch (1973)’
This event will present Edvard Munch, considered by Watkins as his most personal film, and question how Munch’s ‘modernism’ is to be defined, in a world that idolises manipulative audiovisual forms that encourage mass consumerism, political passivity, and escalating environmental disaster.

This exhibition has been commissioned and funded by the Office for Contemporary Art Norway in cooperation and with the generous support of Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa in Venice and its Board. Fritt Ord – the Freedom of Expression Foundation, Oslo, provides additional support. Lene Berg’s film is produced by Studio Fjordholm AS, and made possible with support from NFI, the Norwegian Film Institute: Film Commissioner Åse Meyer, Norsk Kulturråd/Arts Council Norway, Fond for Lyd og Bilde/Audio and Visual Fund, OCA and Norwegian Visual Artists Remuneration Fund. The exhibition is made possible by generous loans from the Munch Museum, Oslo, Norway.

55th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia – Koki Tanaka – Japan Pavilion


abstract speaking – sharing uncertainty and collective acts
Koki Tanaka
Commissioner: The Japan Foundation. Curator: Mika Kuraya. 
Venue: Pavilion at Giardini

The Japan Foundation is delighted to announce artist Koki Tanaka’s representation of Japan at the 55th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia, to be held from June to November, 2013, and will present the exhibition titled abstract speaking – sharing uncertainty and collective act, curated by Mika Kuraya, Chief Curator of the Department of Fine Arts, The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo.

Koki Tanaka
Born in 1975; currently lives and works in Los Angeles. In his diverse art practice spanning video, photography, site-specific installation, and interventional projects, Koki Tanaka visualizes and reveals the multiple contexts latent in the most simple of everyday acts. In his recent projects he documents the behavior unconsciously exhibited by people confronting unusual situations, e.g. a haircut given by nine hair stylists or a piano played by five pianists simultaneously, in an attempt to show an alternative side to things that we usually overlook in everyday living.
He has shown widely in and outside Japan: the Hammer Museum (Los Angeles), the Mori Art Museum (Tokyo), the Palais de Tokyo (Paris), the Taipei Biennial 2006 (Taipei), the Gwangju Biennial 2008 (Gwangju), the Asia Society (New York), the Yokohama Triennale 2011(Yokohama), the Witte de With (Rotterdam) and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (San Francisco). He will participate in “2013 California-Pacific Triennial” at the Orange County Museum of Art in June 2013.

Artist website: http://www.kktnk.com/

Artist’s statement


For example, each of us has within ourselves a problem. This problem is our own particular problem, and rarely does it converge with the problems of others. Problems always bring with them pain, and this pain, too, is something we cannot share with others. Things like sympathy and empathy only strengthen the boundary between those who are experiencing pain and those who are not. The vector of sympathy always travels from those who are not experiencing pain towards those who are. It cannot travel in the opposite direction. This is why we should probably explore engagement not through sympathy but through some other means.

More than a year has passed since the earthquake and tsunami, yet many problems, including the disposal of the rubble, temporary housing, and the nuclear problem, continue. In the wake of the disaster, a large number of artists as well as architects, musicians, filmmakers and so on traveled to the affected areas to undertake volunteer work, initiating actions that reflected their own creative activities. These were not short-lived responses; rather, they are ongoing. At the Japan Pavilion at this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale, too, one such project will be unveiled. In the first few months after the disaster, the question on the lips of many Japanese artists was, “What can art do in response to this event?” And to this day, I think this question still lingers in the minds of many artists. While some have initiated direct actions, others have tried to respond indirectly by continuing to make art as they did before.

Well then, what exactly can I do? Actually, for me the question is rather one of thinking about what changes have occurred as a result of this event. One example is that there has arisen a social context marked by a strong willingness to share, a context that has likely not existed in Japan to date. When we look at Japanese society in terms of this context, even the most casual of actions have a completely different meaning depending on whether they occurred before or after that day. For example, on occasion we use stairs. Instead of an elevator or escalator, we use stairs. Until now we could have explained this by saying it was for our health or for the environment. But in today’s Japan, it would seem that the act of “simply ascending or descending stairs” can be interpreted differently. By this I mean it might reflect an attitude of not wanting to rely on electricity (in other words, nuclear power plants), although of course this may not necessarily be the intention of the individuals concerned. When I saw large numbers of people descending the stairs at a railway station in Tokyo, it looked to me like a demonstration of some kind. Not initiating new action, but re-examining, educing, and reinterpreting the context of the actions we have undertaken to date. By doing this, it should be possible to broadly generalize particular problems in specific regions, making it impossible for anyone to ignore them. Koki Tanaka


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.

55th International Art Exhibition. La Biennale di Venezia – Padiglione Italia – Italian Pavilion

vice versa
Francesco Arena, Massimo Bartolini, Gianfranco Baruchello, Elisabetta Benassi, Flavio Favelli, Luigi Ghirri, Piero Golia, Francesca Grilli, Marcello Maloberti, Fabio Mauri, Giulio Paolini, Marco Tirelli, Luca Vitone, Sislej Xhafa
Commissioner: Maddalena Ragni. Curator: Bartolomeo Pietromarchi.
Venue: Italian Pavilion, Tese delle Vergini at Arsenale

ice versa picks up on a concept introduced by Giorgio Agamben in his book Categorie italiane. Studi di Poetica (1996), in which the philosopher maintained that in order to interpret Italian culture, we must identify a “series of diametrically linked concepts” capable of describing its underlying characteristics – binomials like tragedy/comedyarchitecture/vagueness and speed/lightnessthus become original keys for reading the fundamental works and artists of our cultural history.

vice versa proposes an exhibition made up of seven rooms, seven spaces, each of which hosts two artists in dialogue with one another, where the works displayed reveal the profound sense of this dialectical approach.

55th International Art Exhibition. La Biennale di Venezia – America Latina IILA Pavilion

El Atlas del Imperio
Commissioner: Sylvia Irrazábal. Curator: Alfons Hug. Deputy Curator: Paz Guevara.
Venue: Pavilion at Arsenale

From June 1 to November 24 of this year, the IILA, together with his institutional partner Goethe-Institut, proposes an exhibition in Venice in the great space of the Isolotto dell’Arsenale, which turns into an Atlas into which the Latin-American art and the European talk and are confronted, with an impact of reciprocal enrichment of cultural identities increasingly loudly. For this reason the thematic axis of the PAVILION AMERICA LATINA-IILA, with his Healer Alfons Hug, the co-healer Paz Guevara, and the Commissioner Sylvia Irrazábal, Cultural Secretariat of the IILA, is ” The Atlas of the Empire ” and tries to explore new geopolitical aspects of the contemporary art, in his experiences of mutual fertilization between Latin-American and European artists.

The central idea inspires by the literary allegory of the great Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges who, in his book Of The rigor in the science, describes the Cartographers trying to design ” a Map of the Empire, which had the Size of the Empire and was coinciding punctually with him “, in the writings and in the thought of the big Carlos Fuentes and in Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities: the exhibition ” The Atlas of the Empire ” in 55. Esposizione Internazionale d’Arte – the Biennale I gave Venezia it tries to be an occasion for ri – to design his symbolic cartography in which the topographic precision is not important so much, but the punctual observations of seemingly secondary details of the interpersonal relations or of precarious situations of the present.

In the contemporary this dynamic art exchange has been intensified furthermore. Today, some of the best Latin-American artists live in Europe, where even often they are considered to be representatives of his new mother land. Inversely, several European artists of renown are employed at Latin America

In the Pavilion America Latina-IILA the Latin-American invited artists think about this new geopolitical aspect: Guillermo Srodek-Hart (Argentina), Sonia Falcone (Bolivia), Juliana Stein (Brazil), León and Cociña (Chile), François Bucher (Colombia), Lucía Madriz (Costa Rica), Humberto Díaz (Cuba), Michael Alvear and Patricio Andrade (Ecuador), Simón Vega (El Salvador), Marcos Agudelo (Nicaragua), Jhafis Quintero (Panama), Fredi Casco (Paraguay), David Zink Yi (Peru), Group Quintapata (Dominican Republic), Martin Sastre (Uruguay), Susana Arwas (Republic Bolivariana of Venezuela).

Besides it, since the Italo-Latin American Institute promotes the cultural relations of Latin America with Italy and Europe, they are included in the explanatory project: Luca Vitone (Italy), Harun Farocki and Antje Ehmann (Germany / Brazil), Christian Jankowski, German artist linked with Latin America.

Guillermo Srodek-Hart
Sonia Falcone
Juliana Stein
León & Cociña
François Bucher
Lucía Madriz
Humberto Díaz
Miguel Alvear and Patricio Andrade
Simón Vega
Luca Vitone
Marcos Agudelo
Jhafis Quintero
Fredi Casco
David Zink Yi
Collettivo Quintapata -Pascal Meccariello, Raquel Paiewonsky, Jorge Pineda, Belkis Ramírez
Martín Sastre
Susana Arwas
Harun Farocki & Antje Ehmann. 
In collaboration with: Cristián Silva-Avária, Anna Azevedo, Paola Barreto, Fred Benevides, Anna Bentes, Hermano Callou, Renata Catharino, Patrick Sonni Cavalier, Lucas Ferraço Nassif, Luiz Garcia, André Herique, Bruna Mastrogiovanni, Cezar Migliorin, Felipe Ribeiro, Roberto Robalinho, Bruno Vianna, Beny Wagner
Christian Jankowski

55th International Art Exhibition. La Biennale di Venezia – Central Asia Pavilion

exhibition_map_web_0CENTRAL ASIA PAVILION
Commissioner: HIVOS (Humanist Institute for Development Cooperation). Deputy Commissioner: Dean Vanessa Ohlraun (Oslo National Academy of the Arts/The Academy of Fine Art). Curators: Ayatgali Tuleubek, Tiago Bom. Scientific Committee: Susanne M. Winterling. Venue: Palazzo Malipiero, San Marco 3079
Kamilla Kurmanbekova
Erlan Tuyakov
Ikuru Kuwajima
Aza Shade 
Anton Rodin
Sergey Chutkov
Saodat Ismailova
Vyacheslav Akhunov
The title of the exhibition WINTER is inspired by the poem of the 19th century Kazakh poet and thinker Abay Qunanbayuli who left a great intellectual legacy to the region of Central Asia and whose work was concerned with questions of social justice in his time.

In our curatorial project for the International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia 2013, we recontextualize this poem to current day Central Asia, employing the key of the metaphorical to address the current socio-political context in the region and the issue of artistic agency. We aim to broaden the political debate in the region by raising questions rather than proposing statements. One of the questions we pose, is: How can the specificity of the local political and artistic context be approached in a way that transgresses common assumptions about authority and power?

The exhibition brings together visual reflections on the current socio-political situation of the region through the metaphor of winter. Winter represents a social, political and cultural climate in which an analytical or critical public discourse is frozen, or nearly absent. However, it bears the potential to develop into spring – a more vibrant public debate based on openness and participation.

In the first years after the dissolution of the USSR in 1991, the newly gained independence of the Central Asian republics gave rise to hopes for a free and fair society. However, the collapsed economy inherited from the Soviet Union and the abrupt transition to a neo-liberal market economy left these countries in an extreme state of disarray. The authorities of the newly founded republics promoted the idea of “economy first, democracy later” which, under these circumstances, became universally accepted. Evidently, later never arrived. Today, it is not in the interest of the powers in charge to allow for a vibrant public debate or a broad spectrum of voices to be heard in the decision-making processes. Rather, their aim is to sustain a state of general silence. This state of silence is usually covered up by the ideological mantra of stability – a phenomenon characteristic for most post-Soviet states.

As regards the artistic and cultural sphere in the region of Central Asia, it is characterized by a lack of institutions such as exhibition spaces and platforms for art education promoting critical thinking. This creates a feeling of alienation amongst the artists who fail to engage in public discourse and face the social challenges in their respective countries.

The project seeks to engage a variety of practices within the exhibition, the publication and a parallel program of lectures, film screenings and conferences in Central Asia, Venice and Oslo. Our hope is to serve as a catalyst for a genuinely open public debate on issues such as the relation between art and power structures, its potential to have an impact on society and possible strategies that artists can follow under precarious conditions and in oppressive times, as well as other issues currently pertinent to the region. With the active participation of Central Asian as well as international contributors, we hope to arrive at a deeper understanding of the current socio-political situation in the region, raise new questions and discover alternative ways to move beyond the state of stagnation we experience there today.

Selected through an open call for the cultural practitioners – artists, poets, writers, activists and others involved in cultural production were invited to submit their proposals – the works in the exhibition address a variety of questions relevant to Central Asian realities.

Vyacheslav Akhunov’s site-specific installation Breathe Quietly was originally sketched in 1976 as a public monument which was never realized. A set of words in Cyrillic characters portrays a social environment and invites us to look at the present situation in Uzbekistan through the lens of the Soviet period. By exhibiting this piece today, approximately 40 years later, and under  different social and political structures, the artist establishes a parallel with present-day Uzbekistan and asks us to look at similarities and differences between those different realities

Anton Rodin and Sergey Chutkov will present a joint project depicting social patterns of dissens and affinity in Tajikistan through the interpretation of written letters. Letters from Tajikistan will show disparities as well as similarities between individuals from various social,  ethnic and religious backgrounds. Using the letters they receive, the artists will construct a semantic map highlighting issues of relevance to various strata of contemporary Tajik society.

The video installation Zukhra by Saodat Ismailova and the film The Disappearing City by Aza Shade explore the role of women in contemporary Central Asia where tradition still plays a major role in defining one’s position in society.

Astana’s Winter Urbanscapes, a series of photographs by Ikuru Kuwajima, and the site-specific installation entitled Zhol (The Way) by Kamilla Kurmanbekova and Erlan Tuyakov explore the field of architecture as subject to appropriation by ideology. While Kuwajima explores the recent architectural developments in Kazakhstan’s new capital Astana, Kurmanbekova and Tuyakov  reinterpret the yurt, an archetypically nomadic structure which has recently been appropriated by the state for the political project of constructing a sense of national identity based on tradition.

Farukh Kuziev’s work will be presented in the publication accompanying the exhibition. His work is based on a collective effort by artists from Tajikistan and draws connections between the poor infrastructure in the country and social tensions arising when, in the winter, people suffer from discomfort due to the lack of electricity. Kuziev will show a series of works that feature the answers of artists to the question: “What work would you produce if you had total freedom of action and expression ?”

Ayatgali Tuleubek and Tiago Bom