Guide to the National Pavilions: Venice Biennale 2013

Overlords (1)

‘Overlords’ by Tom Estes- an artwork that functions as an art proposal for a partially realized installation, at The Biennial Project VIP reception in 2011

The Venice Biennale (Biennale di Venezia) is a major contemporary art exhibition that  attempts to chronicle the development of contemporary art around the world, partly by the way its national pavilions divide and showcase the work. Next summer the Venice Biennale 2013 plans to add pavilions of countries that have never participated before. For the first time in the history, two countries, France and Germany, will trade national pavilions. And the Vatican is to have its own pavilion.

The Encyclopedic Palace: Futurism and Fascism at The Venice Biennale

The theme of the 2013 Biennale, from June 1 to Nov. 24, will be “The Encyclopedic Palace,” a phrase drawn from the title of a symbol of 1950s-era Futurism, an 11-foot-tall architectural model of a 136-story cylindrical skyscraper intended by its creator for the National Mall in Washington. The model, by the self-taught Italian-American artist Marino Auriti, now belongs to the American Folk Art Museum in New York. “It’s the crazy dream, bordering between knowledge and madness, image and imagination,” Mr. Massimiliano Gioni, director of the 2013 exhibition said, and appropriate for the Biennale because it reflects the grand ambition of this international exhibition. Mr. Gioni added that he hoped the spirit of Auriti’s work would encourage contemporary self-taught artists to join the international mix at the Biennale.

The Italian Fascists and Futurists used the Venice Biennale exhibitions from 1928 to 1942 as a cultural platform to demonstrate the key aspects of their mutually supportive ideologies. Under Fascism, the Biennale became the perfect forum for the two groups to cultivate and challenge Italy’s aesthetic and national identity at home and abroad. By the 1930s, they appealed to both creative and combative sensibilities of the Italian people, using a shared propaganda, imagery, and activist strategies. The Fascists, led by Benito Mussolini from 1919 to 1945, focused on regenerating a corrupt Italy through cultural, political, and military means. The Futurist artists, led by F.T. Marinetti from 1909 to 1944, reviled the past until their fantasies — about the beauty and proliferation of machines — became a reality and an ideal by which to transform Italian society and identity. Redefining their goals and taking on new ideals and practices that accommodated the strident and eventually oppressive nationalism of Fascism, the Futurists demonstrated how the Biennale, which had started in 1895 as a showcase for international artistic competition, and a promotion of Nationhood had, by 1928, transformed itself into a singular, prestigious platform for Fascist propaganda.

For more information on the Venice Biennale under Fascism listen to lecturer Laura Beiles  on the Futurist Exhibitions.


Biennale Venice Arsenale

Eight additional countries represented 

Paolo Baratta, president of the Biennale, and Massimiliano Gioni, director of the 2013 exhibition, said at a news conference at the Biennale’s headquarters, a 15th-century Gothic palazzo overlooking the Grand Canal in Venice, that at least eight additional countries will be represented beyond the 89 that participated in 2011. The newcomers will include the Bahamas, Bahrain, Ivory Coast, Kosovo, Kuwait, the Maldives, Nigeria and Paraguay. “It’s too early to say exactly how many countries in all will be participating,” Mr. Gioni said in a telephone interview.

France and Germany trade national pavilions

For the first time in the history of the Venice Biennale, two countries, France and Germany, will trade national pavilions. For the 2013 edition, which runs from June 1 to November 24, French artist Anri Sala will design a project for the German pavilion, and the artists invited by Germany — Ai Weiwei, Romuald Karmakar, Santo Mofokeng, and Dayanita Singh — will show their work in the French pavilion.

“France and Germany have been discussing the possibility of such an exchange for ten years,” said Christine Macel, head curator at the Pompidou Center and commissioner of the French pavilion. “Anri Sala and I thought about this idea and its meaning in connection with our project, and, in conversation with Susanne Gaensheimer of the German pavilion, we decided to give an affirmative reply.”

The initiative doesn’t involve a specific artistic collaboration but serves as a symbol of openness. “The exchange seems natural to us, in the framework of a cultural context that goes beyond the idea of nationhood,” Macel said. “This corresponds to the way that Anri Sala and I experience the worlds of art, as a whole that is open and fluid. Plus, his project will take on its full meaning in the specific context of the German pavilion.”

The national borders of the German pavilion have already become porous with the presence of artists from other countries: South Korean artist Nam June Paik (1993), British artist Liam Gillick (2009), and now Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. In 2013, the exchange between France and Germany is another step forward in the process of decompartmentalizing the prestigious Biennale.

According to Marcel, the pavilion exchange also celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Elysée Treaty, which brought the two countries closer together after the Second World War. So it seems that, instead of just being an internal organizational detail in the art world, the exchange is actually part of a global policy to strengthen friendly relations between France and Germany during these troubled economic times.

As for the project to be created by Sala, a French artist of Albanian origin, it’s almost entirely shrouded in mystery. “The project will pursue Anri Sala’s reflections on space and sound, but in a totally new way,” Macel said. “If we are able to support the artist’s vision to its fullest, it will be an extraordinary work.”


The Encyclopedic Palace, by the self-taught Italian-American artist Marino Auriti. A symbol of 1950s-era Futurism, the 11-foot-tall architectural model is of a 136-story cylindrical skyscraper intended by its creator for the National Mall in Washington. 

The Vatican to have its own Pavilion

The Vatican is finally due to have its own pavilion at the next Venice Biennale (1 June-24 November 2013), after speculation and delays since the idea was first mooted in 2009. At a press conference yesterday, “the vice president of the promoting committee for the Holy See’s pavilion at the Biennale Arte 2013 was present,” says a statement. The Art Newspaper understands that the Venice Biennale president, Paolo Baratta, will make a space available for the Vatican at the Arsenale site.

Antonio Paolucci, the director of the Vatican Museums, said: “The Holy See wants to choose the best contemporary art and not expose itself to criticism” (The Art Newspaper, November 2010). Paolucci declined to comment on the works to be shown in Venice but earlier this year, the Italian newspaper La Stampa reported that “the artists will include fewer than ten men and women from various countries around the world, some of whom are established artists and others who are just emerging. Their subject matter will be the first 11 chapters of the Book of Genesis.”

Venice Biennale 2013: National Pavilions

Artist: Nicola Costantino
Venue: Arsenale

Artist: Simryn Gill
Commissioner: Simon Mordant
Curator: Catherine de Zegher
Venue: Pavilion at Giardini

Artist: Mathias Poledna
Commissioner: Jasper Sharp
Venue: Pavilion at Giardini

Artist: Tavares Strachan
Commissioner: Nalini Bethel
Curators: Jean Crutchfield, Robert Hobbs
Venue: Arsenale, Tese Cinquecentesche

Artist: Berlinde De Bruyckere
Venue: Pavilion at Giardini

Artist: Shary Boyle
Venue: Pavilion at Giardini

Central Asia
Artists: Vyacheslav Akhunov, Sergey Chutkov, Saodat Ismailova, Kamilla Kurmanbekova, Ikuru Kuwajima, Anton Rodin, Aza Shade, Erlan Tuyakov
Commissioner: Vanessa Ohlraun
Project leader: Susanne M. Winterling
Curators: Ayatgali Tuleubek, Tiago Bom
Venue: Palazzo Malipiero

Artist: Alfredo Jaar
Commissioner: CNCA, National Council of Culture and the Arts, Chile
Curator: Madeleine Grynsztejn

Artist: Jesper Just
Venue: Pavilion at Giardini

Artist: Dénes Farkas
Curator: Adam Budak
Organizer: Centre for Contemporary Arts, Estonia
Venue: Palazzo Malipiero, S.Marco 3199 III floor

Artist: Anri Sala
Curator: Christine Macel
Venue: Pavilion of Germany at the Giardini

Artists: Ai Weiwei, Romuald Karmakar, Santu Mofokeng, Dayanita Singh
Commissioner: Susanne Gaensheimer
Venue: Pavilion of France at the Giardini

Artist: Katrin Sigurdardottir
Commissioner: Dorothée Kirch
Curators: Mary Ceruti, Ilaria Bonacossa

Artists: Albert Yonathan Setiawan, Sri Astari, Eko Nugroho, Entang Wiharso, Titarubi
Commissioner: Soedarmadji Jean Henry Damais
Assistant Commissioner: Mirah M. Sjarif
Curators: Carla Bianpoen, Rifky Effendy, Achille Bonito Oliva

Artist: Richard Mosse
Commissioner, curator: Anna O’Sullivan

Artist: Gilad Ratman
Venue: Pavilion at Giardini

Artist: Koki Tanaka
Curator: Mika Kuraya
Venue: Pavilion at Giardini

Korea (Republic of)
Artists: Group exhibition
Curator: Kim Seung-duk
Venue: Pavilion at Giardini

Artist: Petrit Halilaj
Curator: Kathrin Rhomberg
Commissioner: Erzen Shkololli
Venue: Arsenale

Artists: Kaspars Podnieks, Krišs Salmanis
Commissioners: Zane Čulkstēna, Zane Onckule
Curators: Anne Barlow, Courtenay Finn, Alise Tīfentāle

Artist: Akram Zaatari
Commissioner: Association for the Promotion and Exhibition of the Arts in Lebanon (APEAL)
Curators: Sam Bardaouil, Till Fellrath
Venue: Arsenale

Artist: Raimundas Malašauskas

The Netherlands
Artist: Mark Manders
Curator: Lorenzo Benedetti
Venue: Pavilion at Giardini

New Zealand
Artist: Bill Culbert
Commissioner: Jenny Harper
Deputy Commissioner: Heather Galbraith
Curator: Justin Paton

Artists: Aissa Deebi, Bashir Makhoul
Commissioner: Palestinian Art Court – al Hoash
Curators: Bruce Ferguson, Rawan Sharaf
Venue: Liceo Artistico Statale di Venezia, Palazzo Ca’ Giustinian Recanati, Dorsoduro 1012

Commissioner: Elisa Victoria Aquino Laterza
Curator: Osvaldo González Real
Technical curator: Tiziano Inguanotto

Artist: Joana Vasconcelos
Commissioner: Direcção-Geral das Artes Ministério da Cultura

Artist: Vadim Zakharov
Curator: Udo Kittelmann
Venue: Pavilion at Giardini

Cancelled the participation

Artist: Lara Almarcegui
Curator: Octavio Zaya
Venue: Pavilion at Giardini

Artist: Valentin Carron
Curator: Giovanni Carmine
Venue: Pavilion at Giardini

Artists: Bernd Behr, Hsu Chia-wei, Katerina Seda
Curator: Esther Lu
Organizer: Taipei Fine Arts Museum
Venue: Palazzo delle Prigioni, Castello 4209, San Marco

Artist: Ali Kazma
Commissioner: Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts
Curator: Emre Baykal
Venue: Pavilion at Arsenale

United Arab Emirates
Artist: Mohammed Kazem
Commissioner: Dr. Lamees Hamdan
Curator: Reem Fadda

United Kingdom
Artist: Jeremy Deller
Venue: Pavilion at Giardini

Artist: Wifredo Díaz Valdéz
Venue: Pavilion at Giardini

Artist: Sarah Sze
Commissioner: Bronx Museum of the Arts
Co-Commissioners: Holly Block, Carey Lovelace
Venue: Pavilion at Giardini


Swampy: Venice is Flooded! – Live Art Guerrilla Action as part of ‘Bizzare Artist Happenings’ with The Biennial Project  (as featured by Tate Shots at The 54th  Venice Biennale) 

About Art Selectronic

Art Selectronic is an artist-led initiative, that supports grass-roots contemporary art that remains unswayed by fashion, trends or the whims of government funding. The project involves ongoing research into the placing of contemporary art, it’s audiences and it’s relationship to the everyday. We place great emphasis on context. Our mission is to support new works of contemporary art and foster an audience from a wide range of backgrounds.
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1 Response to Guide to the National Pavilions: Venice Biennale 2013

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