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Arts Venice Biennale 2019: 10 National Pavilions To Visit

Venice Biennale 2019: 10 National Pavilions To Visit

Venice Biennale 2019: 10 National Pavilions To Visit
By Oliver Giles
By Oliver Giles
May 09, 2019
The Venice Biennale—arguably the most important event on the global art calendar—begins this Saturday. Before the hundreds of exhibitions open and are flooded with a glamorous crowd of art collectors, curators and critics, we introduce 10 national pavilions you should make a beeline for

Hong Kong

Shirley Tse, Negotiated Differences (detail) (2019). (Courtesy of Shirley Tse. Photo: Joshua White. Commissioned by M+, 2019)
Shirley Tse, Negotiated Differences (detail) (2019). (Courtesy of Shirley Tse. Photo: Joshua White. Commissioned by M+, 2019)

Representing Hong Kong at the Venice Biennale this year is Shirley Tse, a Hong Kong-born, Los Angeles-based installation artist who is best known for her sprawling works that explore the material of plastic both physically and philosophically. 

For her exhibition at Venice, which is curated by Christina Li, Tse has created a modular, winding sculpture that weaves through the exhibition space before emerging into the building’s courtyard. Unusually, this new work features wooden and metal details alongside Tse's trademark plastic. 

See also: Venice Biennale 2019: Shirley Tse On The Hong Kong Pavilion

Ghana

El Anatsui, Earth's Skin (2007). (Courtesy of Guggenheim Abu Dhabi and the artist)
El Anatsui, Earth's Skin (2007). (Courtesy of Guggenheim Abu Dhabi and the artist)

Ghana is one of four countries participating in the Venice Biennale for the first time this year—the others are Madagascar, Malaysia and Pakistan. 

Acclaimed architect David Adjaye has designed Ghana's pavilion, which is filled with works by several Ghanaian artists who have received acclaim at home and abroad. Included in the show are paintings by Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, photographs by Felicia Abban and installations by El Anatsui, whose tapestries woven from unusual materials such as bottle caps have been exhibited at museums around the world. 

Canada

An image from the set of The Journals of Knud Rasmussen (2006), an Isuma film. (Courtesy of Isuma)
An image from the set of The Journals of Knud Rasmussen (2006), an Isuma film. (Courtesy of Isuma)

Cananda, which has long struggled with its legacy of colonialism, is for the first time devoting its national pavilion at the Venice Biennale to Inuit art. 

The exhibition features new work by Inuit artist collective Isuma, which has produced more than 40 films celebrating Inuit culture since it was founded in 1985. The group is best known for its film Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner, the first feature-length film ever to be written, directed and acted entirely in the Inuktitut language. Atanarjuat won the Caméra d'Or award at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2001. 

India

Jitish Kallat, Covering Letter (2012). (Courtesy of the artist)
Jitish Kallat, Covering Letter (2012). (Courtesy of the artist)

Few—if any—figures loom as large over Indian history and culture as Mahatma Gandhi, so it feels fitting that India's pavilion this year is dedicated to the iconic leader of the Indian independence movement. 

Nandalal Bose, Atul Dodiya, GR Iranna, Rummana Hussain, Jitish Kallat, Shakuntala Kulkarni and Ashim Purkayastha are all contributing works to the show, which is part of a year-long celebration called 150 Years of Gandhi that marks the anniversary of the civil rights activist's birth. 

See also: 10 Hong Kong Art Exhibitions To See In May 

Singapore

Song-Ming Ang, Recorder Rewrite (2019). (Courtesy of the artist)
Song-Ming Ang, Recorder Rewrite (2019). (Courtesy of the artist)

The Venice Biennale may be the world's most famous art exhibition, but the Singapore pavilion is using it to put music in the spotlight. Representing the city-state is Song-Ming Ang, whose art investigates how individuals and societies engage with music. 

One of the new works featured in the exhibition, which is titled Music For Everyone, is a video piece that looks at the history and role of the recorder in music education in Singapore since the 1970s. For another work, Ang is inviting members of the public to write letters to him about their lives—he'll respond to each and every one with a mixtape of songs inspired by their letter. The music, Ang says, could range from classical to pop. 

Korea

Hwayeon Nam, Dancer from the Peninsula (2019). (Photo: Gim Ikhyun. © Hwayeon Nam)
Hwayeon Nam, Dancer from the Peninsula (2019). (Photo: Gim Ikhyun. © Hwayeon Nam)

Many countries use their pavilion at the Venice Biennale to showcase the work of an established artist who has already achieved success over several decades—an approach Korea has shunned this year. 

Instead, the country has offered the pavilion to Siren Eun Young Jung, Hwayeon Nam and Jane Jin Kaisen, three mid-career female artists whose work is reconstructing historical narratives and exploring women's roles in Korean history.

This exhibition has one of the best titles in the show: History Has Failed Us, But No Matter.

See also: The Tatler Guide To Art Galleries In Wong Chuk Hang

The Philippines

Mark Justiniani, Ecopraxia (2013). (Courtesy of the artist and The Drawing Room)
Mark Justiniani, Ecopraxia (2013). (Courtesy of the artist and The Drawing Room)

Mark Justiniani studied painting but has since branched out to make installation and multi-media works that reference everything from social realism to magical realism. 

His exhibition at Venice is titled Island Weather and explores how the Philippines' geography has shaped feelings of national identity. 

Scotland

Charlotte Prodger. (Photo: © Emile Holba, 2018)
Charlotte Prodger. (Photo: © Emile Holba, 2018)

Video artist Charlotte Prodger, who made headlines last year when she won the Turner Prize for a video work she made with her iPhone, is representing Scotland at this year's biennale.

At Venice, Prodger is showing a new single-channel video work that was made partly at Cove Park, an artists' residency centre located on the rural west coast of Scotland. 

See also: Material World: Para Site Director Cosmin Costinas' Textiles Collection

Taiwan

Shu Lea Cheang, Still from 00 X, 4K video, 10’00’’, from the film series for the installation 3x3x6 (2019). (Courtesy of the artist and Taipei Fine Arts Museum)
Shu Lea Cheang, Still from 00 X, 4K video, 10’00’’, from the film series for the installation 3x3x6 (2019). (Courtesy of the artist and Taipei Fine Arts Museum)

Taiwanese artist Shu Lea Cheang has been making net art—art that's made using and exhibited on the Internet—ever since the technology was released for public use in the early 1990s. In 1999, her work BRANDON became the first work of net art to be collected by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. 

Now, Cheang has created a brand new installation for Venice that explores ten cases of people who have been imprisoned because of differences of race, gender or sexuality. The exhibition is titled 3x3x6, which refers to the three-by-three square-metre cells constantly monitored by six cameras that are standard in many prisons today. 

Malaysia

Anurendra Jegadeva, Migrant Altar (2012). (Courtesy of Wei-Ling Gallery)
Anurendra Jegadeva, Migrant Altar (2012). (Courtesy of Wei-Ling Gallery)

Malaysia has gallerist Wei-ling Lim to thank for this exhibition—the first the country has ever hosted at the Venice Biennale. 

Following last year's change of government, Lim wrote to the prime minister in what she describes as a "fit of madness" and asked for his blessing to organise an exhibition at the Venice Biennale. He replied last December giving Lim the go-ahead, though this left her less than six months to pull the show together. 

But Lim has pulled through. The resulting exhibition is titled Holding Up A Mirror and features works by four Malaysian artists: Anurendra Jegadeva, H.H. Lim, Ivan Lam Wai-hoe and Zulkifli Yusoff.

The Venice Biennale runs from May 11 to November 24.

See also: Hong Kong Art Collectors: 12 Names You Should Know

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Arts Art Venice Biennale Art Fair Art Exhibition Events Venice Italy Galleries

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