At the Venice Art Biennale, pavilions open to diversity

A couple of queer artists occupying the Austrian pavilion, a community that claims to be a “third gender”, the Fa’afafine in the Samoa Islands under the spotlights of the New Zealand pavilion: the explosion of sexual identities has exploded like never before in this 59th edition of the Venice Biennale.

While the curator of the overall exhibition, Cecilia Alemani, has chosen to invite 80% women or artists who are non-binary and from a wide diversity of backgrounds, many national pavilions take this same approach.

Black voices rise from the British pavilion

In the French pavilion, Zineb Sedira – rewarded with a special mention from the jury – weaves his mixed identities, fiction and reality, in a tribute to the militant cinema of the 60s and 70s that saw producers and directors from Algeria, Italy and France.

→ REPORT. At the Venice Art Biennale, the revenge of the “invisible”

In the British pavilion, Sonia Boyce, crowned with the Golden Lion, pays homage to the voices of black singers whose songs she records at the same time fragile, powerful, united, in liberating improvisations. In the United States, Simone Leigh, the first African-American woman to occupy this place, has transformed the architecture into an African palace, with wooden beams and a thatched roof where she presents her monumental sculptures, which return like a glove of colonial images, to turn them into a celebration of black women. The black giant of hers presented at the opening of the international exhibition also earned her a Golden Lion.

In the Hong-Hong pavilion, defying Chinese censorship, Angela Su imagines, through drawings, sculptures, film archives and a video montage, a fiction about a politically committed acrobat who dreams of flying even if it means risking her life… from Luxembourg, Tina Gillen displays fascinating paintings of empty landscapes, inspired by movie sets or… a post-human world. And there are still many women in the pavilions of Ireland, Argentina, Romania, Germany, Switzerland, Israel…

→ PORTRAIT. In Venice: Zineb Sedira, between great history and personal history

Another trend that can be seen this year is the place given to ethnic minorities. The Nordic pavilion of Sweden, Norway and Finland features three artists from the indigenous Sami community who came to Venice in traditional costume and a fourth exhibits their embroidered snowscape paintings in the Arsenal’s main exhibition. In the Polish pavilion, an exceptionally honorable Roma artist transposes Italian frescoes into his own culture, mixing mosaics and brightly colored paintings.

Magnificent children’s games seen by Francis Alÿs

In the Belgian pavilion, Francis Alÿs, who now lives in Mexico, celebrates the universal beauty of children’s games. For more than twenty years, he has filmed and painted them all over the world, including in heavily conflict-affected areas like Afghanistan. The anthology of his images is a magnificent hymn to the inventiveness, to the happy sociability and to the bodies that dance, jump, spin, sing, of all these children, capable of having fun with nothing.

Among all his films, we will remember the one-shot in a cobalt mine in Lubumbashi in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a dark and desolate industrial landscape in the middle of which a boy patiently climbs a huge rubble pushing a tire in front of him. him, before curling up inside him to hurtle down the slope with breakneck acceleration. magical!


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