The influx of emails announcing which artists are representing their respective countries at the 2022 Venice Biennale has been a steady trickle since at least 2019, when the previous edition closed, and has carried on through 2020 now that the so-called “art world Olympics” has been delayed another year due to the global pandemic. The 59th edition of the show, which will be under the direction of High Line creative director Cecilia Alemani, will run in Venice from April 23 through November 27. The title of the show is “The Milk of Dreams,” a name taken from Surrealist artist Leonora Carrington’s absurdist book initially published in the 1950s and released in English in 2017.
We will keep updating this list as more nations announce their artists, curators, themes, and venues.
Installation view of Marco Fusinato’s Constellations (2015-18) at the Sydney Biennial, 2018. Photo: Zan Wimberley, courtesy of the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne.
Artist: Marco Fusinato
Curator: Alexie Glass-Kantor
Fun Fact: Fusinato, a Melbourne native, amplifies sensory experiences by blurring the boundaries between music, sound, and visual art. In a work shown at the Syndey Biennial, he invited visitors to thwack a baseball bat at a plaster wall. The sound of bat-on-wall was amplified by hidden microphones the artist attached to a sound system, turning it up to 11.
Ashley Hans Scheirl and Jakob Lena Knebl © Christian Benesch
Artists: Jakob Lena Knebl and Ashley Hans Scheirl
Curator: Karola Kraus, director of the Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien
Fun Fact: Kraus has said that the installation will “lack neither humor nor satire,” something visitors have come to expect in the work of the artists, who frequently collaborate. The work will include a multitude of materials including photographs, paintings, video and audio works, and holograms meant to destabilize “conventional ideas of museum presentations.”
Knebl worked as a geriatric caretaker for a decade before turning to visual art, anf has since collaborated with the likes of Raf Simons at the University of Applied Arts. Scheirl has worked in experimental film, but more recent projects have focused on painting.
The artist Francis Alÿs in Iraq. Photo ©Akam Shex Hadi, courtesy Ruya Foundation.
Artist: Francis Alÿs
Curator: Hilde Teerlinck
What to Know: Alÿs, whose films and installations have appeared at past biennales, in 1999, 2001, 2007, and 2017, will return to represent Belgium with a new work that continues his 2017 video Children’s Games #19: Haram Soccer, which focused on children who, under the rule of the Islamic State, were banned from participating in the sport, but continued playing nonetheless.
Stan Douglas, film still Doppelgänger (2019). © Stan Douglas. Courtesy of the artist, Victoria Miro, and David Zwirner.
Artist: Stan Douglas
Fun Fact: The Vancouver-based artist creates multimedia installations that blend fact and fiction, often with diverging narratives that propose alternate realities. Douglas has shown at the Venice Biennale multiple times, though this is the first time he’s representing his home country.
Lara Fluxa, courtesy of Institut Ramon Llull.
Artist: Lara Fluxà
Curator: Oriol Fontdevila
What to Know: Fluxà will present work for a project titled Llim (Silt), which explores ideas ranging from Donna Haraway’s notion of situated knowledge to the physical substance of environments, particularly in Venice and its surrounding canals.
Emilie Rosalie Saal, Michelia Campaca (ca. 1910, newly printed 1995).
Artists: Kristina Norman and Bita Razavi, based on the story and works of Emilie Rosalie Saal
Curator: Corina Apostol
Venue: Pavilion of the Netherlands, Giardini
What to Know: For the 2022 event, Estonia is taking over the Dutch pavilion thanks to an invitation from the Mondriaan Fund. Norman and Razavi’s project is titled “Orchidelerium: An Appetite for Abundance,” and is based on the works of artist Emilie Rosale Saal (1871-1954).
Pilvi Takala, The Stroker (2018), film still. Courtesy of Helsinki Contemporary and Carlos/Ishikawa. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Pirje Mykkänen.
Artist: Pilvi Takala
Curator: Christina Li
Fun Fact: Takala, who was born in Helsinki, creates video works based on interventions she creates for both mainstream public and private institutions alike. In The Stroker, Takala took on the role of a “wellness consultant” at a popular co-working space in East London, where she was employed to “provide touching services in the workplace.” The reactions of workers ranged from obvious discomfort to grudging acceptance of the atypical intimacy of strangers.
Zenib Sedira, Mother, Daughter and I (2003). © Zineb Sedira / DACS, London. Courtesy the artist and kamel mennour, Paris.
Artist: Zineb Sedira
What to Know:
Fun Fact: Sedira is the first artist of Algerian descent to represent France at the Venice Biennale. Born in Paris, the artist’s work draws largely on her experiences as the daughter of Algerian immigrants and raising a child in London’s multicultural Brixton neighborhood. In works such as Mother Tongue (2002), the artist acted as an interpreter as she, her daughter, and her mother attempted to speak to one another in their native languages.
Tower of books from Maria Eichhorn’s Rose Valland Institute (2017). Image: Ben Davis.
Artist: Maria Eichhorn
Curator: Yilmaz Dziewior
What to Know: Berlin-based artist Maria Eichhorn is best known for work that addresses institutional power structures, blending academic studies with playful humor. “The German Pavilion is symbolically charged and presents a challenge to artists on several very different levels,” Eichhorn said in a conversation with curator Yilmaz Dziewior. “With every attempt at deconstruction you’re confronted with that fact, but it also makes it fun.”
Sonia Boyce in front of her work at Apalazzogallery. Photo by Kate Brown for Artnet News.
Artist: Sonia Boyce
Fun Fact: Boyce is the first Black woman chosen to represent Britain in Venice. She said of the news, “you could have knocked me down with a feather when I got the call.” The artist is a professor at the University of the Arts in London and rose to prominence in the 1980s with work that interpreted personal and social relationships through the lenses of race, gender, and class.
Angela Su, Cosmic Call, 2019. Still from single-channel video, 12:43 minutes. Image courtesy of the artist and Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City.
Artist: Angela Su
Curator: Freya Chou
Venue: Campo della Tana, Arsenale, Castello 2126
What to Know: Su has the distinction of being the first female artist to represent Hong Kong with a solo exhibition at the international event, which comes on the heels of years of tumult and protests over China’s growing clampdown on the region. Su’s work spans drawings and documentary work, that owes much to her academic pursuits in biochemistry. Her scientific background merges with an interest in social constructs to create unnerving works.
Zsófia Keresztes, The Judge (2018). Courtesy of the artist.
Artist: Zsófia Keresztes
Curator: Mónika Zsikla
What to Know: The project for the Hungarian pavilion is mysteriously titled “After Dreams, I Dare to Defy the Damages,” and may well feature the pastel, biomorphic sculptures that Keresztes is known for. The artist’s interest in the overlapping realms of reality and virtual reality are expressed through the use of a mosaic style descried as “pixels,” which nod to internet culture, while existing firmly in the physicality of her works.
Sigurður Guðjónsson, Enigma (2019). Courtesy of the artist.
Artist: Sigurður Guðjónsson
Fun Fact: The Helsinki-born artist began his career working in experimental artist-run venues in Reykjavik with self-described “dark and hypnotically moody videos” that engage the viewer’s senses, challenging the links between vision and hearing. The artist often collaborates with musicians, and his most recent work, titled Enigma, was created in partnership with composer Anna Thorvaldsdóttir. The work has been performed around the world by the SpektralQuartet group, accompanied by a video inspired by the view of fragmented coal seen through an electron microscope.
Niamh O’Malley, Shelf (Curve) Glasshouse, (2015). Courtesy of the Bluecoat.
Artist: Niamh O’Malley
Curator: Clíodhna Shaffrey and Michael Hill
What to Know: O’Malley’s sculpture and video works are marked by a quiet minimalism that is in part related to Irish landscape painting. The materials she chooses, such as glass, change based on the time of day, or how people interact with it. A description of her work on the Temple Bar Gallery, Dublin website reads: “Her moving image works deliberately mark the observational tone or document of the film as subjective and delimited. The partial or the glimpse can be enough.”
Tina Gillen, Chasing light (2018-19). Photo: Tania Bettega / Nosbaum Reding, Luxembourg. Courtesy of Mudam Luxembourg.
Artist: Tina Gillen
Venue: Arsenale, Sale d’Armi
What to Know: Brussels-based Gillen’s project is titled “Faraway So Close,” which is described as a sort of tableau vivant that is “a reflection on the relations between the inner space and the outer world and will take shape within a specific scenography device inspired by cinematographic sets.” The artist will create a suite of new paintings to accompany the installation.
Caravaggio, The Beheading of St John the Baptist (1608). Courtesy of St. John’s Co-Cathedral, Valletta.
Artists: Arcangelo Sassolino, Giuseppe Schembri Bonaci, and Brian Schembri
Curator: Keith Sciberras, Jeffrey Uslip
What to Know: According to a press statement, the artists, brothers Giuseppe Schembri Bonaci and Brian Schembri along with Arcangelo Sassolino, will create a work that revisits Caravaggio’s 17th-century painting The Beheading of St. John the Baptist (1608). The piece will draw on a long history of exchange between Malta and Italy, and “address global challenges such as inequality, justice, and peace.”
Melanie Bonajo, Night Soil-Economy of Love, installation design in collaboration with Théo Demans, exhibition view “The Death of Melanie Bonajo” 2018. Photo: GJ. Van Rooij.
Artist: Melanie Bonajo
Curators: Maaike Gouwenberg, Geir Haraldseth, and Soraya Pol
Venue: Chiesetta della Misericordia, Campo dell’Abbazia 3550, Cannaregio
Fun Fact: Bonajo creates lush videos, photography installations, and performances heavily influenced by the concept of the divine. A self-proclaimed eco-feminist, her works explore body politics, equality, and community, and particularly the ways these issues are impacted by technological advances and an increased sense of alienation. With colorful images, the artist probes how the millennial generation’s relationships with nature, domesticity, and identity have evolved.
Yuki Kihara, Mau Headquarters, Vaimoso (2013). Courtesy of Milford Galleries.
Artist: Shigeyuki (Yuki) Kihara
Curator: Natalie King
Fun Fact: The Samoan and Japanese artist Yuki Kihara’s work explores the historic and contemporary representation of Pacific societies. One of their best known works is the photographic series “Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?” (2013), named after one of Paul Gaugin’s most famous paintings of Tahiti.
The series is based on staged postcards of the South Seas, in which they untangle the myth of a Pacific paradise by posing as a 19th-century Samoan woman posed at sites around Samoa in the aftermath of the devastating 2009 tsunami and 2012 cyclone.
Nordic Pavilion – Sámi Pavilion
Máret Ánne Sara, Pile o´ Sápmi (2017). Courtesy of documenta 14.
Sámi Artists: Pauliina Feodoroff, Máret Ánne Sara, Anders Sunna
Curator: Liisa-Rávná Finbog, Beaska Niillas, Katya García-Antón
What to Know: The Nordic Pavilion is recast as the Sámi Pavilion this year to honor the Indigenous artists whose work will fill the exhibition space. Curator Katya García-Antón said “At this pivotal moment, it is vital to consider Indigenous ways of relating to the environment and to each other.”
Gerardo Tan, Decoy 7.2.20 (2020). Courtesy of the artist and S.E.A. Focus.
Artist: Gerardo Tan, Felicidad Prudente, and Sammy Buhle
Curator: Yael Buencamino Borromeo, Arvin Jason Flores
What to Know: The exhibition, titled “All of us present, This is our gathering / Andi taku e sana, Amung taku di sana,” is inspired by the tradition of sogna, “sung extemporaneously to express the self to participants of a gathering,” which is often part of Madukayan events. Gerardo Tan is a multimedia artist whose work often responds to naturally occurring patterns, along with painterly interventions. For the Venice Biennale, he will collaborate with musicologist Felicidad Prudente and weaver Sammy Buhle.
Portrait of Alberta Whittle by Matthew A Williams.
Artist: Alberta Whittle
Curator: Glasgow International
Venue: Arsenale Docks, San Pietro di Castello
What to Know: Whittle, who is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Edinburgh, explores themes of colonialism, xenophobia, health inequalities, and climate change. Her works span film, installation, performance, and sculpture. “With so many urgent conversations on health, grief, refusal, race, and healing at the forefront of my mind, now is the moment to ask questions about how we can unlearn and be more actively reflective on a personal level as well as collectively,” she has said.
Shubigi Rao. Courtesy of S.E.A. Foucs.
Artist: Shubigi Rao
Curator: Ute Meta Bauer
Venue: Arsenale, Sale d’Armi
What to Know: Rao, who is the current curator of the upcoming Kochi-Muziris Biennale, is best known for her layered installations that question systems of knowledge and power, especially as they are codified and disseminated. Per the artist’s own words, she is interested in “creating archaeological archives of garbage, writing ‘How To’ manuals for building a nation and a culture from scratch, discovering and diagnosing peculiar forms of urban malaise where digital dandruff and pixel dust accumulate like lint and cloud the contemporary brain, building immortal jellyfish, to pseudo-museums regenerating mechanisms of knowledge accumulation, storage, and destruction.”
Ignasi Aballí, Enciclopèdia (1994). Courtesy of MACBA.
Artist: Ignasi Aballí
Curator: Beatriz Espejo
What to Know: The title of Aballi’s exhibition, “Corrección,” will take the form of a maze-like architectural installation “with impossible, absurd and unimaginable spaces, through which at some points it will not be possible to go through and at others, the openings, the corridors and all the rooms will change; it will be seen in a way that has never been seen,” according to the artist.
Latifa Echakhch, installation view BPS22, Charleroi 2020.
Artist: Latifa Echakhch in collaboration with composer Alexandre Babel
Curator: Francesco Stocchi
What to Know: The Moroccan-born artist currently lives in Switzerland and has been racking up international accolades and prizes, including the Prix Marcel Duchamp in 2013. Echakhch’s work deconstructs symbols and objects inherently linked to specific cultures and places to upend the viewer’s assumptions.
Füsun Onur, Counterpoint with Flowers, (1982) installation view from “Through the Looking Glass” Arter, 2014, Arter Collection, © Photo: Murat Germen, © Füsun Onur.
Artist: Füsun Onur
Curator: Bige Örer
Venue: Arsenale, Sale d’Armi
What to Know: Istanbul-based Onur is a Turkish modernist who “explores the fundamental orientations of conceptual art through her own poetry. The installations of Füsun Onur stand out with their ability to erase the universally defined boundaries such as identity, culture and language, and to linger as a musical note in living beings, regardless of place and space.”
Simone Leigh at Stratton Sculpture Studios in 2020. Photo by Shaniqwa Jarvis, courtesy of the artist and Hauser & Wirth, ©Simone Leigh.
Artist: Simone Leigh
Curator: Jill Medvedow and Eva Respini
What to Know: In another first for the so-called “art world Olympics,” Simone Leigh is the first Black woman to represent the United States at the Venice Biennale. The appointment “disrupts 400-plus years of Black women being excluded from this global platform and from our history,” Medvedow said in a statement to Artnet News. The sculptor has been on a fast track to superstardom since she began exhibiting her gargantuan figures that present larger-than-life female figures who stand as autonomous works rendered in bronze, ceramic, and raffia.
Leigh’s public work for the inaugural commission of the New York High Line Plinth, a towering sculpture that is part of her “Anatomy of Architecture” series, positions female figures whose shape is informed by the architectural styles from West Africa and the American South.
Wallen Mapondera, Deedzerwa (2017). Photo: Wallen Mapondera, courtesy SMAC Gallery.
Artists: Ronald Muchatuta, Kresiah Mukwazhi, Terrence Musekiwa, and Wallen Mapondera
Curator: Fadzai Muchemwa
What to Know: The artists bring diverse perspectives to Zimbabwe’s national pavilion: Mukwazhi’s work is inspired by the global #Metoo movement and addresses sexual assault within South Africa, while Mapondera addresses social relationships through intricate installations made from textiles, often commenting on power structures.
“These men and woman made an impact in global art circles by navigating Zimbabwean society through their work,” said the country’s minister of youth, sport, arts, and recreation, Hon Kirsty Coventry, in a statement. “It is because of these trailblazing young and mature artists that Zimbabwe is viewed from a different lens; as cultured as our history, as critical in thought as any other nation in the world, and fearless in telling our own stories.”
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