55th Venice Biennale. Edson Chagas at the Angolan Pavilion
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.
Through Luanda, Encyclopedic City continues the research initiated by Beyond Entropy at the 13th International Architecture Exhibition 2012 and develops a reflection on the theme of “Encyclopedic Palace” through the work of Edson Chagas.
The Encyclopedic Palace has been given an impossible task: no building can contain a universal multiplicity of spaces, possibilities, and objects. When a building tends towards the encyclopedic, it becomes a city. The city includes multiple conditions in the coherence of form— even though this is an urban, conflict-ridden form. Edson Chagas focuses on the complexity of Angola’s capital, Luanda, which derives from the presence of unpredictable spaces and the coexistence of irreconcilable programs: city and country, infrastructure and habitations, garbage tips and public spaces. Luanda is an encyclopedic city. How can the knowledge of a city be organized through the taxonomy of its spaces?
Central to Edson Chagas’ work is a reflection on the ways in which images are used to give form to the way the city is experienced. Edson Chagas’s Found Not Taken series – which has been partially selected for the Angola Pavilion by the curators Paula Nascimento and Stefano Rabolli Pansera- concentrates on the systematic cataloguing of abandoned objects that are repositioned within an urban context to create new relationships between the objects and their context, form and its codification. What relationship is created between spaces and their images? What role are imagination and creativity allowed to play in this urban taxonomy?
In the ambiguity of a vision which uncovers and nonetheless reconstructs, what is delineated is an urban cartography mixing documentary-like precision and poetic reconstruction: a new way of observing the encyclopedic wealth of spaces around us and, perhaps, a new way of inhabiting these spaces.
Luanda, Encyclopedic City is exhibition and catalogue together curated by Paula Nascimento and Stefano Rabolli Pansera (Beyond Entropy Ltd) with the collaboration of Thankboys as designers and art directors. The show is composed by 23 photographic big format posters setting up an installation open to the interaction with the audience. The exhibition is compared with the collection of Ancient Art owned by Vittorio Cini hosted in Galleria di Palazzo Cini. The public is invited to meditate on the theme of the Encyclopedic Palace through the exhibit and the graphic project which gives the possibility to create one’s own urban encyclopedia and catalogue starting from the unusual red hardcover placed at the beginning of the exhibition itinerary.
Palazzo Cini in San Vio, Dorsoduro 864, Venezia
Top – Luanda, Encyclopedic City, installation view, Pavilion of the Republic of Angola at the 55th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. Palazzo Cini. Photo: Paolo Utimperger
Images from the series Found Not Taken, by Edson Chagas, Luanda, Encyclopedic City, Pavilion of the Republic of Angola, 55th International Art Exhibition- La Biennale di Venezia. Courtesy: the artist and A Palazzo Gallery, Brescia