Friday, August 19, 2022

La Biennale di Venezia - 59th International Art Exhibition The Milk of Dreams - Arsenale - Second Part

La Biennale di Venezia - 59th International Art Exhibition 
The Milk of Dreams - Arsenale - Second Part
Delcy Morelos
For three decades, Delcy Morelos has developed a practice across painting, installation, and sculpture in which soil, clay, fabrics, fibers, and other natural elements are the primary materials. Over time, her paintings turned from reds to earth tones, and then into large scale immersive installations made of soil. In Earthly Paradise - 2022 -  the soil rises above the ground, and masses of earth surround the spectator’s body. Visitors can smell the earth’s aroma mixed with hay, cassava flour, cacao powder, and spices like cloves and cinnamon while sensing the soil’s moisture, temperature, texture, and darkness.   Her use of earth is informed by Andean and Amazonian Amerindian cosmologies and conveys the notion that nature is not something inert that we access and control at our will from an outside and exceptional position, but that we are earthly beings – we become, live, die, and decompose with and as the earth. As the soil penetrates and affects our body and senses, our human becoming takes a new shape: we apprehend we are always becoming humus, as the Latin etymology of the very word “human” recalls. 

Emma Talbot
In her ecstatic paintings on silk, which appear in curtain-like sheaths, the British artist Emma Talbot makes the case that formal experiments can be politically liberating. Citing the French literary theorist Helene Cixous’ 1970s-era theory of l’ecriture feminine, Talbot conceives of textile and its formal characteristics as a means to articulate a feminist artistic language. Marked by the influence of postanthropocentric and posthuman thought, Talbot’s large-scale paintings, drawings, animations, and sculptures incorporate simplified figuration, mythological motifs, rhythmic patterns, vivid colours, and calligraphic texts to express aspects of Talbot’s personal and interior experiences as they extend to topics ranging from technology, nature, urbanism and ecopolitics to the pandemic and aging.

Solange Pessoa 
Solange Pessoa creates installations, drawings, paintings, and sculptures that position the viewer in a space of sublime sensorial experience. Influenced by the experiments of other Brazilian artists she adopts a visceral and fantastical relationship with her local landscape in south-eastern Brazil and the conceptual connections between the body and nature. Since the 1980s, Pessoa has been incorporating organic materials into her enigmatic and fantastical work, creating primordial and ritualistic forms that beat with both life and are muted by the spectre of death. The bold black-and-white drawings that encompass Pessoa’s Sonhíferas series - 2020– 2021 - depict sinuous creatures and insects in the act of metamorphosis.


Prabhakar Pachpute
Indian artist Prabhakar Pachpute is known for versatile work that combines the political, the personal, and the surreal. Pachpute comes from a family of coal miners. Addressing sobering subjects that have impacted his community’s lived experiences, his work is often suffused with pensive, poetic undertones or fantastical elements that are both alluring and unsettling. Pachpute is best known for theatrical, wall-sized charcoal drawings, and his chosen medium is a poetic tribute to his familial history and the principal subject of his critique. The surreal scene depicted in Unfolding of the Remains-II - 2022 - was, in part, inspired by the discovery of a Roman-era warship in an eastern Serbian mine, where it had been buried for 1,300 years.  Distant, vaguely mechanical and biomorphic forms – including a scarecrow with exhaust tubes for arms – harken the encroachment of human industry and infrastructure. Collapsing multiple temporalities into a single mural- like image, Pachpute’s painting pays reverence to the passage of time while also testifying to its consequences.
Marianne Brandt
In 1924, the year she began studying at the Bauhaus in Weimar and produced the first in a series of metal items that launched her pioneering industrial design career, German artist Marianne Brandt also made two abstract collages and took her first documentary photographs. These works marked the beginning of a visual practice that the artist pursued for at least a decade. Between 1924 and 1932, Brandt made about fifty collages that she alternately referred to as Montagen or Photomontagen.  All feature female figures that depict the key traits of the German feminist movement known as Neue Frau - New Woman. A group of photos showing Brandt in her studio, her image reflected by the objects she has designed, reveals her allegiance to this new spirit with a look that is both feminine and masculine, her delicate features made androgynous by a Bubikopf - short-cropped -haircut. The image she presents in Selbstporträt mit Schmuck - 1929 - seems like a perfect manifesto of this new generation, and her body, more armoured than bejewelled, proclaims its right to be consciously displayed.

Teresa Solar
Teresa Solar’s art alludes to material entities in states of transformation. Suspended between the biological and the industrially produced, the tangible and the mythical, her works of sculpture, drawing, and video present a hybrid world inflected by fiction and storytelling, natural history, ecology, and anatomy. Within her sculptural practice, large-scale installations and smaller objects made from contrasting materials frequently appear in families of sister sculptures. Solar’s new series Tunnel Boring Machine - 2022 - comprises three large sculptures inspired by animals and prehistoric life forms reminiscent of fish gills, dolphin fins, beaks, blades, and oars. Treated with a high polish finish, these works speak to a conception of abstracted time: they are inventions of fiction and simulation, compositions of a long hidden earthly skin.
Sandra Mujinga
Sandra Mujinga’s multidisciplinary practice is driven by a profound interest in the body – and its absence. In her uncanny installations, ghostly hooded figures, sculptures resembling flayed skins, and fantastical hybrid creatures are made instruments of observation. Taking inspiration from animal survival strategies such as camouflage and nocturnality, science fiction’s concept of “world-building,” posthumanist thought, and Afro-futurism, Mujinga proposes an imaginary world where cyborg existence does not necessarily signal a threat to autonomy; rather, hybridity functions as protection.  Sentinels of Change - 2021-  woven from upcycled textiles, take inspiration from dinosaur fossils. These sculptures are positioned in a liminal space, in which decay and rebuilding exist on the same timeline.

Marguerite Humeau
Marguerite Humeau’s supernatural, biomorphic sculptures could have been lifted from a work of science fiction, occupying a world in which hypermodern technology and medical equipment have displaced human life. A vacillation between speculative science and ancient myth, robot and fossil, biomedical engineering and archaeological discovery is a defining characteristic of Humeau’s practice, which plays out in physical spaces that read as cyborg temples and laboratories of the extinct.   Her new pieces made from aluminium, salt, plastic ocean waste, and algae for The Milk of Dreams, Humeau borrows from research on ecstatic rituals, trances, animal morphology, and climate change. Posing ritual as an expression of consciousness, she stages sinuous marine sculptures as if caught in a moment of religious rapture. What emerges here is a type of sublime understanding of mortality that may exist beyond the domain of humans.

Monira Al Qadiri
Al Qadiri has spent the last decade creating sculptures and videos that assume a range of strategies to explain the Persian Gulf region’s stunning urban and economic development over the last decades. Her interpretation of the Gulf’s so-called “petro-culture” is manifested through speculative scenarios that take inspiration from science fiction, Arab soap operas, Gulf War-era pictures of burning Kuwaiti oil fields, traditional melancholic music, pearl diving, and oil drilling machinery.

“I consider myself a cyborg. Google is my memory.”
 Tishan Hsu
Tishan Hsu has described technology’s integration with the body as his central artistic preoccupation. As he has said, “I consider myself a cyborg. Google is my memory.” In the early 1980s, Hsu had been working as a “word processor” at a Wall Street law firm, encountering computers before they were widely accessible. His early bulging paintings and tiled sculptures evoke the hours he spent immersed in such a technological orbit: saturated with static, bits of digital data, scratchy surfaces, floating orifices, and fragmented body parts, these works dissolve the threshold between screen and flesh. Phone-Breath-Bed and Breath 3 - 2021 - play on the technologies that simultaneously disembody and connect human beings, with particular attention to medical apparatuses. At the root of these works is the question of technology’s effects – whether distorting, surveilling, or life-giving – on human beings.


Geumhyung Jeong
Techno-capitalism has us hurtling towards a digitally native society and yet, still, there is something deeply unsettling about human/non-human interaction. Choreographer and performance artist Geumhyung Jeong uses her body and animatronic figures built from DIY parts to emphasise the uncanny relationships that have developed between people and machines. Her work occupies an in-between space – a comfort with technology that is uncomfortable, a sensitivity towards objects that is non-consensual, a beautiful and horrifying revelation of techno-social opposition and similitude. Jeong intentionally maintains an amateur, toy-like, experimental quality to her engineered beings. They are clunky but responsive, alluring but humble. Their playfulness is foregrounded in the curious amalgamation of prosthetic parts. 
Elisa Giardina Papa
Elisa Giardina Papa’s witty, research-based works frame the presentation and performance of gender, sexuality, and labour in the 21st century digital economy. Giardina Papa’s new video installation U Scantu”: A Disorderly Tale - 2021 - reimagines the Sicilian myth of the donne di fora - women from the outside and beside themselves - described in orally passed-down tales as feminine, but also masculine; human, yet part animal; and benevolent, yet vengeful. This video installation envisions the donne di fora as teenaged “tuners” who ride bikes customized with powerful sound systems through the abandoned postmodern architecture of Gibellina Nuova. The ride of the “tuners” is interspersed with text and visual motifs from a 19th-century collection of Sicilian fairy tales, Giardina Papa’s fragmented childhood memories of songs and stories told by her grandmother, and the 16th and 17th- centuries Inquisition trials that criminalized women that were believed to be donne di fora. Accompanied by ceramic sculptures of goose feet and braided snakes made in collaboration with Sicilian artisans, “U Scantu”: A Disorderly Tale repurposes the magical, ritualistic, and fantastical as radical forces that generate an imaginative space beyond predetermined categories of humanness and womanhood.

 Robert Grosvenor 
Since the 1960s, Robert Grosvenor has been developing a diverse artistic language, making use of architectural concepts and spatial dynamics in sculptures that evince both a solemn austerity and a winking mischief. Grosvenor is known for largely making his sculptures by hand from inexpensive materials, even when they appear industrially produced. The sensuousness of Grosvenor’s approach is compounded by an eccentricity that suggests the Space Age fantasies of his early years, as well as darker future. Untitled - 1987–1988 -  a structure made from corrugated iron, appears as if a vestige from a potentially apocalyptic event. Formed by the sides of the trailer where Grosvenor stores tools in his studio, the sculpture contains no ceiling, floor, nor wheels, signalling architecture without providing its functionality.


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