ABOUT LA BIENNALE DI VENEZIA
Connect Channel was appointed by the South African Department of Arts and
Culture in November 2016 to respond to the brief and to project manage the curation
and installation of our country’s pavilion. Connect assembled an accomplished
project team comprising curators Lucy MacGarry and Musha Neluheni, who were
ably supported by Parts & Labour in the design and execution of the installation.
The Venice Biennale dates back to 1895, when the first International Art Exhibition
was organised. It is one of the pre-eminent international bienniales and cultural
institutions in the world, introducing hundreds of thousands of visitors to exciting
new art every two years. The 57th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di
Venezia (13 May - 26 November 2017) is directed by Christine Macel, Chief Curator
at the Musée national d’art moderne – Centre Pompidou in Paris.
Christine Macel, Artistic Director of the 57th Venice International Art Biennale, the
world’s most prestigious contemporary art event, outlined a curatorial framework
emphasising the important role artists play in inventing their own universes and
injecting generous vitality into the world we live in.
“The team we have assembled brings together Connect as an experienced
local production company, accomplished curators and a proven project management
company with first-hand experience of the Biennale. Our collective goal is to
spearhead a new approach to the South African Pavilion in 2017 by presenting the
work of two leading, South African artists and to leverage social and popular media
to enhance local, public engagement with the South African Pavilion.” - Connect
CEO, Basetsana Kumalo.
The curators responded with a bold decision to select only two artists to present an immersive video installation. The selection of Candice Breitz and Mohau Modisakeng and the medium was part political statement, part response to the Biennale’s theme. The installation invites viewers to explore the artist’s role in visualising and articulating marginalised narratives. What is it to be visible in everyday life, yet invisible and disregarded at the level of cultural, political or economic representation?
“We are truly thrilled that Breitz and Modisakeng will be representing South Africa. Breitz’s photographs and multi-channel video installations offer nuanced studies of the structure of identity under global capitalism, while Modisakeng employs a highly personal language to express ideas about his own identity and the body. This marks the first time that Modisakeng and Breitz will be shown alongside each other in the context of a significant exhibition.” - Curator, Lucy MacGarry.
The placing of new works by Breitz and Modisakeng in dialogue causes viewers to reflect on experiences of exclusion, displacement, transience, migration and xenophobia, and explores the complex socio-political forces that shape the performance of selfhood under such conditions.
The result was that the SA Pavilion had a major impact and stood out in an extremely busy and competitive environment.