Ultramarine [‘oltremare’] is a deep blue pigment that was once obtained, via a complex process, from the semi-precious stone lapis lazuli. It was used by the ancient Egyptians, then in the painted temples of sixth- and seventh-century Afghanistan and, later, in Chinese and Indian art: Italian artists began to use it in the middle ages. In the 1400s Cennino Cennini extolled its qualities: “Ultramarine blue is a noble colour, pure and perfect beyond all others; its qualities excel anything that can be said of it or done with it”. The name derives from its place of origin, the Orient: the pigment arrived in Europe via the ports of Syria, Palestine and Egypt, lands which were “across the sea”. Among the most precious of the colours used in Italian painting, ultramarine was only ever applied to frescoes “a secco” [as a final layer applied once the fresco plaster is dry], as was the case, for example, in Giotto’s paintings in the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua. Since 1825 the name ultramarine has been used to describe a manmade pigment of the same colour..
The group exhibition Plaisance engages contemporary artistic practices that move in and out of ethnographic framing, countering progressive and predominant codes of representation by inhabiting a secondary register of historical erasures, seeming blankness, and aphasic or amnesiac gaps within cultural memory. Giving living form, color, and voice to a resistant uncanny, Plaisance redirects affective forms of visibility and legibility to trouble political signification, referentiality, and presumed narratives of historiography.
While the exhibition’s title echoes the popular entertainments and mimetic objects of fleeting desire associated with pleasantries, distractions, and trifling objects, it also evokes a more archaic understanding of plaisance as a place affording contemplation alongside a prevailing architecture—not unlike the garden pavilion or Folie structures of eighteenth century leisure. Within the exhibition at Midway, plaisance becomes a place of rupture and reorganized looking that engenders thick descriptions of gesture, object, and image, enacting an intricacy of distinctions over the sweep of generalizing abstractions.
Smash-up (a synonym of accident, crash, collision) is the word from which the term “mash-up” has been derived in Jamaican Creole: a song consisting entirely of recombined parts of existing ones.
For his second solo exhibition at Fluxia, Andrea De Stefani created a dry garden based on the aggregation of materials and forms of discordant origins, a landscape designed from the reconfiguration of residual forms. The elements that De Stefani has identified, collected and used as a matrix for his sculptures come from a specific environment: the margins of the industrial zone and the urban periphery, a terrain vague described by French landscape architect Gilles Clément in his definition of the “third landscape”.
This is a show about evasiveness and exactitude. The works in Otherwise Unexplained Fires* insist on the latency of meaning, not because they want secrecy, but because they cannot fully reveal themselves. By circling, erasing, and sidestepping in exact ways, other registers of understanding start taking place, reaching the very points they appear to avoid. This precise shaping and shifting is also a suggestion of a beyond: of possibilities that lie beyond those already actualised within dominant modes of thinking and acting.
Established in 1899, the Federal Art and Architecture Competition is the oldest and best-known art competition in Switzerland. It is open to Swiss artists, architects, curators and critics irrespective of age, and recognises the best positions in their fields.
Of the 528 dossiers (589 individuals) submitted to the Federal Office of Culture in the first round, 71 were invited by the Federal Art Commission to present their work in Basel.
Sam Durant’s third exhibition at Sadie Coles HQ, Proposal for Public Fountain, centres on a fountain sculpted from black marble – a prototype for a larger installation in a public setting – together with a series of related graphite drawings. The structure features a reproduction of an armoured water cannon, which sprays a jet of water onto a hooded figure bearing an anarchist flag. Its note of polemic is a defining aspect of Durant’s art. Poised between detached commentary and acerbic critique, it recasts a contemporary episode of state authoritarianism in the ‘stately’ aesthetics of public stonework.
Golden Lion for the Best National Participation to Luanda, Encyclopedic City, the first pavilion of Angola at the International Art Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia. The International Jury assigned the prestigious award “for the curators and artist who together reflect on the irreconcilability and complexity of site”. The Pavilion – commissioned and supported by the Ministry of Culture of Angola – hosts the photographic works by the Angolan artist Edson Chagas with an installation and a graphic project curated by Paula Nascimento and Stefano Rabolli Pansera (Beyond Entropy Ltd) in collaboration with Thankboys. The Pavilion is sponsored by Bai, Banco Privado Atlantico, and Ensa.
Mark Manders (1968) is representing the Netherlands at the 55th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia. The Dutch pavilion showcases Room with Broken Sentence, curated by Lorenzo Benedetti (1972). The exhibition covers a 23 year span of Manders’ activity, combining existing installations with a monumental 4 meter high monumental new work.
Vadim Zakharov’s installation has united the upper and lower storeys of the Russian Pavilion in a single project for the first time in the building’s long history (the Pavilion was built in 1914 by the Russian architect Alexei Shchusev who, ten years later, would also design Lenin’s Mausoleum in Moscow).
The theme of the installation turns around the ancient Greek myth of Danaë. The myth of Zeus and Danaë has inspired many famous works of art since ancient times, including the picture by Rembrandt, painted in 1636-1647 and kept in the State Hermitage Museum, where it was seriously damaged in 1985 by a man who threw sulphuric acid onto the canvas and slashed it in two places.
The exhibition of Terike Haapoja, reminiscent of an x-ray machine, attempts to open views to the non-human and to show nature as a sovereign agent. The exhibition consists of two separate parts, one of which is the set of installations Closed Circuit – Open Duration (Suljettu joukko – avoin kesto), which takes advantage of technology and natural processes, and the other is the project Party of Others (Toisten puolue).
Community (2007/2013) is a multi-channel video installation that belongs to the first segment, and which can be considered as a key of sorts to the Haapoja exhibition. Reflected on round projection surfaces, we see a recently dead animal – a horse, a cat, a calf, a dog, a bird – recorded with an infrared camera. The images show the inevitable in the colours etched on the corpses of animals: colourful life fades into its deep blue background. We witness how islands of matter that were alive only a moment ago dissolve into a sea of entropy. What kind of a community is this? Are we its members? And how does it define its limits?
The Czecho-Slovak pavilion at the 55th International Art Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia opened to the professional public on 29 May 2013 with the exhibition project Still the Same Place by Petra Feriancová and Zbyněk Baladrán curated by Marek Pokorný.
As the project curator Marek Pokorný says: The project Still the Same Place is an affirmative as well as critical attempt at reflection on the cultural-historical and psychological significance of Venice, usually crowded out by the self-centred gesture of artists from national pavilions and from the presentation of art at the Biennale.
The Pavilion of Georgia at the 55th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia is a parasitic extension to an old building in the Arsenale. This informal structure called “kamikaze loggia”— characteristic of Tbilisi—has been designed by the artist Gio Sumbadze, who is a researcher of the typology of these architectural additions. Vernacular extensions of modernist buildings have been created since the 1990s as an organic response to the new, “lawless” times after the fall of the Soviet Union. They increase the living space and are usually used as terraces, extra rooms, open refrigerators, or—as in Sumbadze’s case—an artist studio. It is said that a Russian journalist named them “kamikaze”, drawing a parallel between the romantic and suicidal character of such an endeavour and the typical ending of mostGeorgian family names “-adze”. This architecture also refers back to the local palimpsestic building technique, which since the Middle Ages has allowed new houses to be built on top of existing ones on the steep slopes of the Caucasus Mountains thus not monumentalising the past but expanding on it for the future.
The Fondazione Prada presents between 1 June and 3 November 2013 at Ca’ Corner della Regina in Venice an exhibition entitled “When Attitudes Become Form: Bern 1969/Venice 2013” curated by Germano Celant in dialogue with Thomas Demand and Rem Koolhaas. In a surprising and novel remaking, the project reconstructs “Live in Your Head. When Attitudes Become Form,” a show curated by Harald Szeemann at the Bern Kunsthalle in 1969, which went down in history for the curator’s radical approach to exhibition practice, conceived as a linguistic medium.
by Adnan Yildiz
In order to write about the recent anti-government protests in Turkey, I am occupying this virtual space through which you receive news about selected exhibitions. Exhibitions aim to challenge the way in which we look at the world and so does life itself. Ten days ago, it all started with the excessive use of police force and tear gas against the Gezi Park occupation in Istanbul’s Taksim Square. The police brutally attacked the demonstrators and burned their tents. The photos and updates coming from the demonstrators were clearly documenting the unprecedented cruelty against those who were trying to develop creative tools and peaceful strategies to deal with the demolition of the park such as reading books, camping, etc. The Turkish press was completely blind and mute; the repressive government denied the seriousness of the facts. Thousands of people united to react against this state violence, and the uprising has spread through many cities demanding freedom of speech, resignation of the government and putting an end to the excessive use of tear gas by the police as well as plastic bullets, tanks, tear gas dropping helicopters and physical violence. As far as we know, 3 people were killed, many people have been injured and arrested by the police.
This is neither an Arab Spring against the militarist monarchy, nor is it the Occupy Movement protesting an inequality of % 99 versus 1. It is a combination of many things. In order run an opinionated discussion, we need to consider some recent historical facts.
Anri Sala’s project for the French Pavilion has been conceived for the space of the German Pavilion where it is exceptionally being exhibited, and is entitled Ravel Ravel Unravel (2013).
The title of the piece is a subtle play on words based on the verb to ravel and its opposite, to unravel, as well as a reference to the famous French composer Maurice Ravel, who in 1930 composed the Concerto in D for the Left Hand which is at the heart of Anri Sala’s project.
Occupying the central space of the German Pavilion, the first of two works, entitled Ravel Ravel, consists of two films, each focused on the left hand of a famous pianist: Louis Lortie and JeanEfflam Bavouzet. Both of these performers were invited by Anri Sala to perform Ravel’s Concerto, accompanied by the Orchestre National de France, conducted by Didier Benetti.
The artwork of Lara Almarcegui (Zaragoza, 1972) at the 55th Biennale di Venezia stems from a heightened awareness of the city, using its wastelands and buildings to reflect on the evolution of the urbis itself and the elements that comprise it. With engaged projects such as her guides to modern ruins and urban wastelands or her rubble mountains, Almarcegui has taken her practice to capital cities like London, Beirut and Vienna and has participated in major international contemporary art events such as Manifesta 9 (2012) and the São Paulo Biennial (2006).
Under the curatorial guidance of Octavio Zaya, Almarcegui brought two related projects to the Italian exhibition—the highlight of the art world calendar—that continue in the same line as her previous works. One tackles the physical space of the Spanish Pavilion in the Giardini, while the other explores an empty plot of land beside the island of Murano.