Essay 1: Description of your Country, including relevant political, geographic, economic, and cultural issues

Chile is a South American country that resides on a long and narrow strip of land bordering the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Andes mountains to the east. In the mid 16th century, Spain conquered and settled Chile, who later declared their independence back in 1818. Chile emerged from Spain’s rule gathering increasing independence paired with territorial and economic growth. In the late 1960’s to early 1970’s however, the country resided in turmoil between left and right wing politics. Socialist, left wing president Salvador Allende was thrown out by the military coup in 1973 and General Augusto Pinochet came to power. Pinochet led the country for the next 27 years under extreme censorship. In 1988, Pinochet lost a referendum to the center-left coalition, which voted him out of office in 1990. Once Pinochet was voted out of power, Chile became a stable and prosperous nation once again. Recently in 2010, the nation joined the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Today Chile is one of the most stable nations in South America.

Essay 2: Description of your pavilion’s art at the 2013 Biennale    

Chilean artist Alfredo Jaar exhibited an installation at the 2013 Venice Biennale entitled “Venezia, Venezia”. The work was a 1:60 scale model of the giardini venue, with the architecture of the site as it stands today with it’s 28 national pavilions. The model is made of grey resin, resembling the cities monuments. The frame of the installation is a 5mx5m metal pool filled with water. About every three minutes the structure emerges from and sinks below the water. This act of drowning the giardini abandons the global hierarchy that exists within the current system and suggests that we uncover a new, more fitting system in return. With only 28 national pavilions exhibited in the central area, it leaves over 160 countries on the peripheries of the exhibition, and some not represented at all. Jaar addresses this unbalance with a poetic invitation to rethink the model. He points out that our world does indeed have global hierarchy and unbalance, but that we should not further reinforce these ideas in our culture, but challenge them. Accompanying the model in the pavilion is a photograph of Lucio Fontana, hung in a light box. The photograph shows Fontana visiting his studio in Milan upon ruins after World War II. The image describes a moment in time where culture was severely suffering during war, and artists like Lucio Fontana were able to overcome these hard times and reintroduce Italian culture into the world. Jaar believes culture can change the world, and gives this example from the past to make his point.

Essay 3: Analysis of the “success” of your pavilion: why and how was this particular artist selected? Was the choice politically motivated? Do you think the exhibition was a success overall?  

I find it interesting that Alfredo Jaar was chosen to represent the national pavilion of Chile when his work does not seem immediately nationalistic. Jaar moved to New York at the age of 26 and has now resided there for over half of his life. Most of his works deal with traumatic events that happen around the globe, focusing on individuals and their realities. While each piece seems to be nationalistic towards the country being discussed, his approach to seeking out inequalities in the world speaks to globalization. This was Jaar’s 4th time showing at the Venice Biennale, starting with the exhibition entitled “Aperto” in 1986. This was the first time a Latin American artist had been invited to participate in the international exhibition, and the name of the exhibition was telling, “Aperto” meaning, “open”. The curator of the pavilion Madeleine Grynsztejn has worked with Jaar for the past two decades, coordinating his first international exhibition at La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego, CA in 1990. While Massimiliano Gioni was most likely not aware that Jaar’s piece would be a direct critique on the structure of the Venice Biennale, he must have known that his contribution would be less nationalistic and more transnational. I think with the growth of technology, there is a shift towards transnationalism in the art world, and in that sense, it was a successful political decision for Jaar to represent Chile in the 2013 Venice Biennale.

Essay 4: Brief biography of artist exhibited in pavilion     

Alfredo Jaar was born in 1956 in Santiago, Chile. He moved when he was five years old to the island of Martinique, France. He spent most of his childhood here and returned to Chile at the age of 16 in 1972, the year before socialist president Salvador Allende was thrown out by the military coup and General Augusto Pinochet came to power. Pinochet ruled for 27 years, keeping the country under extreme censorship. In 1979, Jaar attended Instituto Chileno-Norteamericano de Cultura in Santiago where he studied architecture. A few years later in 1981 he continued his studies in architecture at the Universidad de Chile, also in Santiago. Upon graduation, Alfredo had had enough of the extreme government of Pinochet, describing his censorship as suffocating, and moved to New York in 1982. Coming into the art scene in New York, Jaar wanted to fully investigate the contemporary trends before he became a player in it himself. He described the work that he saw as “work about art, about themselves, about their realities- it was not about the world.” Jaar wanted to challenge these ideas and make work that confronted global political issues. His work subverted the generalizations of dry mass media by focusing on specific individuals and their realities, provoking an emotional response from the viewer. Jaar is currently living and working in New York City, exhibiting his work all around the world.