We Like — Let There Be Light

As the world gears up to the biannual art madness that is the Venice Biennale, more light is being shed on the central international exhibition at this year’s manifestation that promises to be a particularly interesting one.

Nicholas Hlobo, ‘Mondle umkhulise’ 2009. Mixed media,m 8 x 1,3  Installation view.

Nicholas Hlobo, ‘Mondle umkhulise’ 2009. Mixed media,m 8 x 1,3 Installation view.

Entitled ‘ILLUMInazioni – ILLUMInations’, it will include the work of some 82 international artists and collectives. Bice Curiger, the Artistic Director of the 54th International Art Exhibition is co-founder and editor-in-chief of Parkett, one of the most respected and innovative contemporary art magazines in the world, that has earned an international following since its arrival on the scene in 2004. Swiss Curiger is a former curator at the Zurich Kunsthaus, in addition to the many other strings to her bow.

Her approach to the international exhibition is one that readily embraces the set-up of the Venice Biennale with its national pavilions. A format that has often been criticised as being irrelevant or out-of-date to contemporary art, Bice Curiger rather sees the extant system as one that actively encourages a dialogue between artists in which their national identity –refuted or embraced- is an inevitable part of any biennale’s discourse. Hence the name of the exhibition; ‘ILLUMInations’, geddit? In Curiger’s statement exhibition, one of the aims is to bring to the fore  the development of an international or globalised practice of cotemporary art and where could be more appropriate to discuss the phenomenon than at the Venice Biennale?

The first component of the exhibition’s title is just as indicative. It will literally shed light not only on the globalised position of contemporary art, but, also has to do with light itself. Curiger has already elaborated that the Venetian painter Tintoretto will play an important part in her approach to the exhibition. Noting that, like Tintoretto, many of the much more recent artists whose work interests her, there is a drive on the part of the artists that has to do with a certain search for light, both rationally and with a more intuitive passion.

Bice Curiger’s exhibition will include the work of both highly established artists such as Martin Creed, Katharina Fritsch, Rosemarie Trockel, James Turrell and Cindy Sherman and some of the talents that have soared to international recognition in more recent years such as Urs Fischer, Cyprien Gaillard, Rashid Johnson and Mai-Thu Perret. Given the proposition of the exhibition, it is also self-evident that a significant proportion of the included artists – both internationally established and emerging- are from cultures that have only gained increased international visibility on the contemporary art circuit in more recent decades. Those exhibited will include Yto Barrada, Mohamed Bourouissa, Nicholas Hlobo, Gabriel Kuri and Dayanita Singh, amongst others.

‘ILLUMInazioni – ILLUMInations’will open at the Arsenale and Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Giardini, in June 2011 during the opening festivities of the 54th Venice Biennale.

Song Dong ‘Diary Written in Water. 1995 – 2001’ Installation view. Photographs, ink drawing. Photo: Haupt & Binder.

Song Dong ‘Diary Written in Water. 1995 – 2001’ Installation view. Photographs, ink drawing. Photo: Haupt & Binder.