Description of country (political, geographic, economic, cultural issues) – Placemark: polygon
The region that we identify as Italy today was under the control of many foreign rulers before Napoleon’s control. Spain had control of the region from 1559 to 1713 and Austria had control over the region from 1713 to 1796. During the Napoleonic Wars, Napoleon and his forces gained control of Northern and Central Italy until the 19th century. In response to his victory of the region from Roman rule, Napoleon created the Giardini. This public garden was created in 1797 as statement of nationalism. The garden helps identify Venice as a cosmopolitan center internationally and still identify national identity. The garden today houses buildings designed by different architects and nations used during the Venice Biennial. The first Venice Biennial was held in 1895, showcasing decorative art, in an attempt to encourage tourism. Sarah Thorton describes the creation of the International Art Exhibition as a growth “out of the decaying city’s desire to encourage its only industry, tourism.” The first themed exhibition occurred in 1972 and was curated by an Italian curator, until 1995 when the French born Jean Clair curated the themed show. The Venice Biennial in 2013 is the 55th year of the exhibition with the theme: The Encyclopedic Palace, curated by an Italian curator, Massimilio Gioni.
Italian Pavilion Art, 2013 Biennial – Placemark: pavilion
Bartolomeo Pietromarchi curated the Italian Pavilion at the 55th International Art Exposition of the Venice Biennial. He was born in Rome in 1968 and was recently hired as the Director of MARCO in Rome in 2011. In addition to his curatorial work in Rome and Milan, Pietromarchi has published many essays and articulates centered around Italian contemporary art. The exhibit, entitled Vice Versa, is sponsored by Italy’s Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and articulates the concepts in Giorgio Agamben’s book, Categorie italiane. Studi di Poetica from 1996. He identifies Italian culture as a “series of diametrically linked concepts.” Pietromarchi presents this in binomials, including “body/history,” “view/place,” “sound/silence,” “perspective/surface,” “familiar/strange,” “system/fragment,” and “tragedy/comedy.” The pavilion successfully presents theses pairs within seven spaces that require the viewer to engage with both artists’ works at the same time and determine the discourse between each other. By traveling through the different rooms, the exhibition explores the complexities of Italian culture, which attempts to blend the art of the past and Italy’s contemporary art movement.
Success of Pavilion (artist selection, politically motivated?, success overall) – Placemark: pavilion
The Italian pavilion in the 55th Venice Biennial focuses focused on contradictions. This theme of contradictions, seen in the title Vice Versa, is a commentary on Italian culture which is full of inconsistencies and paradoxes. This can be seen in the host city of Venice to begin with. While the city is a tranquil tourist destination, the city is fraught with instability of water levels and increased pollution. The contemporary Italian art scene and other aspects of culture face the duality of living up to an impressive past while attempting to find its presence on the global stage. The exhibit this year successfully describes this duality. Additionally, in contrast to Italy’s previous pavilion at the 54th Biennial in 2011, Bartolomeo Pietromarchi had little to live up to. In 2011, many critiqued the Italian Pavilion as a national embarrassment under the curatorial direction of Vittorio Sgardi. Pietromarchi, the curator of this year’s pavilion, has experience in contemporary Italian art and was able to successfully articulate the polarized status of Italy in a way that the public could understand. While the exhibit is not as extravagant or flashy of some of the other National Pavilions, the pavilion is an accurate and improved reflection of Italian society.
Biography of Artists Exhibited—Placemark: artist’s birthplace
Francesco Arena was born in Torre Santa Susanna in 1978 and currently lives in Cassano delle Murge. Much of his work focuses on Italian history, politics, and society that articulate in the sculptural and performance methods. He has exhibited his work in many international cities, including New York City, Milan, Basel, Shanghai, and Bologna.
Massimo Bartolini was born in Cecina in 1962, where he still lives and works. His work relies heavily on the viewers role and presence. This is not his first time at the Venice Biennial. He participate in the 48th Biennial in 1999 and the 53rd Biennial in 2009.
Gianfranco Baruchello was born Livorno in 1924. He currently splits his time between Rome and Paris where he lives and works. He experimented with video and film in early years but also uses more conventional practices in unconventional ways. Including this year’s involvement, Baruchello has participated in the Venice Biennial more than 8 times.
Elisabetta Benassi was born in Rome in 1966 where she still lives and works. Her work directly confronts controversial contemporary themes and issues with an emphasis on reconstructing perception. Some of her most recent exhibition include shows in Vienna, Berlin, Rome, Venice, and Paris.
Flavio Favelli was born in Florence in 1967 and currently lives in Savigno, Bologna. He focuses on craft and creativity in his conceptual work and has an academic background in history.
Luigi Ghirri was born in Scandiano in 1943 and passed away in 1992. This exhibit, created in 1984, displays Ghirri’s strong presence in Italy’s landscape photography.
Piero Golia was born in Naples in 1974 and currently lives in Los Angeles. Golia uses many different forms, like installation, performance, and sculpture in an attempt to distort distinctions between contrasting themes like reality and imagination. In Los Angeles he has displayed shows at the MOCA, Orange County Museum of Arts, and the Gagosian Gallery.
Francesca Grilli was born in Bologna in 1978 and splits time, living and working in Bologna and Amsterdam. Most of her work focuses on sound and language through performance and integrate the viewer and space. She has participated in many performance festivals, including the UOVO Performing Arts Festival in Milan.
Marcello Maloberti was born in Codogno in 1966 and works and lives in Milan and New York. By using performance and installation, Maloberti critiques everyday situations that strike and question memories. He has exhibited in international cities including Paris, London, Copenhagen, and New York.
Fabio Mauri was born in Rome in 1926 and died in 2009. During his life, much of his work focused on the Avant-garde and participated in the Venice Biennial four times. The performance in the 55th Venice Biennial was first performed in 1973 and displays his ise of intense and compelling emotion.
Giulio Paolini was born in Genoa in 1940 and currently lives and works in Turin. His work critiques language through conceptual forms. In addition to his exhibitions in many museums and galleries, Paolini’s body of work includes writings, publications, and anthologies. He has been a participant at Documenta in Kassel and the Venice Biennial for many years.
Marco Tirelli was born in Rome in 1956 where he still lives and works. His use of painting and mixed media shows a blur of perception, causing the viewer to question what is recognizable and not. This is the second time he has participated in the Venice Biennial, the first time being in 1982.
Luca Vitone was born in Genoa in 1964 and currently resides and works in Berlin. Vitone explores the relationship between the individual, its homeland, and the environment through multi-disciplinary study. Like many of the other artists, Vitone has shown his work in the art centers of Paris and New York.
Sislej Xhafa was born in Peja, Kosovo in 1970 and currently splits his time between Brussels and New York. Xhafa attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence where he utilizes video, performance, installation, and photography to focus on complex themes like immigration and identity. In addition to exhibiting in international art centers, he has also shown his work in Istanbul, Korea, and Tirana.