In 2022, everything’s all about arts in Venice again, as the 59th Venice Biennale starts on 23 April. In our series starting now, we weekly present our most expected exhibitions, official collateral events and pavilions from the most exciting projects of the region and the international scene. Stay tuned and check out the exhibition programs of the Austrian and Serbian pavilion in the second episode.
In this episode, we present the exhibition program of the Austrian Pavilion. However, we should also mention the theme of the 2022 Biennale, The Milk of Dreams, inspired by surrealist artist and writer Leonora Carrington’s book of the same title. The book depicts a magical world where everyone can change, transform into anything and anyone. This year’s visual arts program focuses on three main topics, inspired by the mysterious tales: the representation of bodies and their metamorphosis, the relationship between individuals and technologies, and the relationship between bodies and the Earth.
The 59th Biennale of Venice is not only special because it’s the first one since World War II that’s held a year after the original date due to the pandemic. The curator of the biennale is also special: Cecilia Alemani, the first Italian woman and the fifth woman in history in a leading position of a prestigious artistic event. As part of the concept, female and non-binary artists are also featured, which puts the Austrian Pavilion in the well-deserved spotlight.
Jakob Lena Knebl and Ashley Hans Scheirl—Invitation of the Soft Machine and Her Angry Body Parts | Austrian Pavilion
In their program Invitation of the Soft Machine and Her Angry Body Parts, Austrian artists Jakob Lena Knebl and Ashley Hans Scheirl approach and present to the audience different aspects of contemporary body discussions in a playful way. Jakob Lena Knebl first studied fashion under Raf Simons at the University of Applied Arts Vienna, then later textual sculpture under Heimo Zobernig. Drawing inspiration from the fields of art and design, she creates installations characterized by different esthetic qualities, media, materials and intense atmospheres that turn concepts of body, identity and desire into visible constructions in the language of sculpture.
The other member of the duo, Ashley Hans Scheirl received her_his Master of Arts degree in Fine Arts from the prestigious Central Saint Martins College in London after her_his studies in Vienna. She_he has tried her_his hands at many kinds of media before finding her_his voice in the world of motion picture, while becoming a pioneer in the queer movement. Lately, she_he has been focusing on the creation of paintings experienceable as installations.
“For the first time, an artist duo will be shown in the Austrian Pavilion. The spaces of the Austrian Pavilion are predestined for this. Jakob Lena Knebl and Scheirl pick up on the fact that the architecture of the pavilion is symmetrical, separated and at the same time connected by a portico. The two parts each bear the signature of one of the artists. This makes the individual positions distinguishable, but they remain in dialogue with each other in order to selectively mark the artist duo,” shared curator Karola Kraus.
Opening the Austrian Pavilion, Knebl and Scheirl provide insight into their deepest inner artistic universe on a temporary open stage. The transformed pavilion invites visitors and allows a hybrid clash of arts, performances, design, fashion and architecture as a “heterotopic” space. As a practically alive creation of the exhibition, Soft Machine materializes in exciting, sometimes ironically humorous, sometimes futuristic hybrid forms by the artistic duo and curator Kraus.
Vladimir Nikolic—Walking with Water | Serbian Pavilion
The pavilion of the Republic of Serbia definitely deserves our attention. Directed by curator Biljana Ciric, Walking with Water presents a selection of new works by artist Vladimir Nikolic. The artist, who lives and works in Belgrade, has a wide range of techniques, including video, video performance, film and photography. His work also constantly questions the artist’s purpose and place in the art scene. After striking a critical tone of institutional critique, the theme of visual perception became the focus of his interest, in which he explored the concept of space and time as a pair of concepts in the history of optics and its subjection to new technologies.
In line with the theme of this year’s biennale, the Serbian Pavilion’s exhibition, Nikolic’s 800m and A Document also explore the relationship between technology and our bodies or nature, symbolizing their interconnected and interdependent nature. In the isolation caused by the pandemic, technology has become both a means of connection and isolation. The exhibition mirrors the worlds that are becoming increasingly distant: the contrasts between the privileged and the not so fortunate. Through the two new works in question, visitors will encounter two dominant formats of painting and two different sets of relationships: the perspective of the distant, mental observer and the body of the viewer, who becomes part of the work. The flow of infinite bodies of water at the center of the work challenges the notion of linear time—its movement is constant, with no beginning or end. Technology suggests a possible interpretation of the works to all this—how to listen to the images and how to listen to the silence.
Exhibitions “Invitation of the Soft Machine and Her Angry Body Parts“ by Jakob Lena Knebl and Ashley Hans Scheirl in the Austrian Pavilion and “Walking with Water“ by Vladimir Nikolic in the Serbian Pavilion will be open during the 59th Venice Biennale from 23 April to 27 November 2022.
Images 1-2-3: Jakob Lena Knebl, Ashley Hans Scheirl and curator Karola Kraus. Photo: Christian Benesch
Image 4: Jakob Lena Knebl and Ashley Hans Scheirl. Photo: Christian Benesch
Image 5: Jakob Lena Knebl and Ashley Hans Scheirl with curator Karola Kraus. Photo: Christian Benesch
Images 7-8: Portrait of Vladimir Nikolic and Biljana Ciric. Photo: Bojana Janjić—MSUB.
Source: E-Flux, Artnet News, Austrian Pavilion
59th Venice Biennale | Web | Facebook | Instagram
Austrian Pavilion | Web | Facebook | Instagram
Jakob Lena Knebl | Instagram
Serbian Pavilion | Facebook | Instagram
Walking with Water | Instagram
Vladimir Nikolic | Web