The 54th Edition of the Venice Biennale will open the door 4th of June and will run through 27th of November, 2011 include several country participants from the Middle East: Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Syria, United Arab Emirates and for the first time Saudi Arabia.
Artist: Ahmed Basiony (Killed during a demonstration on Tahrir Square, 28 January 2011)
Commissioner: Shady El Noshokaty
Curator: Aida Eltorie
Executive Curator: Shady El Noshokaty
Multimedia Engineering: Magdi Mostafa
Location: National Pavilion, Giardini di Castello
Notes: The Egyptian Pavilion is honored to present a project in the name of our friend and brother, Ahmed Basiony (1978 – 2011).
On January 28th, 2011 – artist, musician and professor, Ahmed Basiony was killed with several gunshot wounds inflicted by snipers on the Friday of Wrath in Tahrir Square (The 2011 Egyptian Revolution). Ending at 32 years of age, the same period that witnessed the remaining year of Anwar Sadat’s presidency, followed by his assassination, and resulting with an Egypt held under the Mubarak Regime, Basiony was what one would consider an emblem of hope to millions of Egyptians, who were determined to live their life for change from a nationally repressed command.
A man who lived and died for his country; an artist honored for his courage and loving mystique amongst his friends, colleagues, and students who were proud to learn from his life, and more-so from the cause behind how it all ended, Basiony’s words on his facebook status, on his last Wednesday and Thursday evenings, showed his full determination to continue the revolts in peace though beaten down with police batons:
“Please, O Father, O Mother, O Youth, O Student, O Citizen, O Senior, and O more. You know this is our last chance for our dignity, the last change to change the regime that has lasted the past 30 years. Go down to the streets, and revolt, bring your food, your clothes, your water, masks and tissues, and a vinegar bottle, and believe me, there is but one very small step left… If they want war, we want peace, and I will practice proper restraint until the end, to regain my nation’s dignity.”
Artists: Morteza Darebaghi, Mohammad Mehdi Qanbeigi, Monir Ghanbeigy, Mohsen Rastani
Commissioner: Mahmood Shalooei
Deputy Commissioner: Mojtaba Kalhor
Location: Palazzo Malipiero, San Marco 3198
Pavilion IRAQ: Wounded Water
Artists: Adel Abidin, Halim Al Karim, Ahmed Alsoudani, Ali Assaf, Azad Nanakeli, Walid Siti
Commissioner: Ali Assaf
Deputy Commissioner: Vittorio Urbani
Curator: Mary Angela Schroth
Organization: Nuova Icona / Sala 1
Media Partner: Canvas Magazine
Location: Fondazione Gervasuti, Fondamenta S. Ana (Via Garibaldi) Castello 995, between Giardini and l’Arsenale
Notes:Iraq will be exhibiting at the Venice Biennale for the first time since 1976. Although all six artists were born in Iraq, the group now practices all over the world: Asaf is based in Rome, Siti works in London, Abidin lives in Helsinki, Al-Karim is based in Denver, and Alsoudani, Berlin. Despite Iraq’s long absence from Venice, several of the exhibiting artists have previous biennale experience: Siti exhibited a wall installation at the 53rd Venice Biennale in 2009 as part of a collateral event and Abidin was featured in the Nordic Pavilion during the 52nd Biennale. Alsoudani currently shows with Haunch of Venison Gallery in New York.
Pavilion SAUDI ARABIA: The Black Arch
Artists: Raja and Shadia Alem
Commissioner: Dr. Abdulaziz Alsebail
Curator: Mona Khazindar and Robin Start
Notes: Shadia Alem felt a desire to follow Marco Polo’s example and, “bring my city of Makkah to Venice through objects brought from there.”
Robin Start, the art adviser, says that the participation of Saudi Arabia in the Venice Biennale is important on so many levels, but insists that it is as “important for Saudi artists themselves.”
The artists were chosen after six candidates traveled to Venice to offer their proposals for how to design the pavilion. Shadia and Raja were chosen after their proposals were considered to be the most appropriate for the biennial’s theme, which this year is “Illumination”.
“We wanted the artists to engage with this title,” said Start. ‘The Black Arch’ is a journey of imagination and exploration. The principal message of the work is the movement of the mind from the known to the unknown.” (read full article)
Pavilion SYRIAN ARAB REPUBLIC: Evolution
Artists: Sabhan Adam, Bernard Aubertin, Talal al Abdoullah, Nemat Badaoy, Beppe Bonetti, Ivan Lardscheneider, Renato Mambor, Piero Mottola, Salvo Pastorello, Nizar Sabour, Rima Salamoun and Slis (Pierluigi Slis)
Commissioner: Christian Maretti.
Curator: Fabio Anselmi, Sandro Orlandi.
Location: Isola di San Servolo, Caserma Cornoldi
Pavilion UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: Second Time Around
Artists: Reem Al Ghaith, Abdullah Al Saadi and Lateefa bint Maktoum
Commissioner: Dr. Lamees Hamdan
Curator: Vasif Kortun
Organization: Ministry Of Culture, Youth And Community
Location: Arsenale, Artiglierie
Web-site: Pavilion UAE on Venice Biennale
Lebanon (not participate)
As for Lebanon, it skipped the 2009 Biennale but had its own national pavilion for the first time in 2007, curated by Saleh Barakat and Sandra Daghe with the participation of artists Fouad Elkoury, Lamia Joreige, Walid Sadek, Mounira Al Solh, and Akram Zaatari. The exhibit had the official support of Lebanon, but was funded by private donations from the Lebanese community. The 2007 curators’ statement said that Lebanon was joining the Biennale “at a time of grave political crisis in the country — when the concept of the nation has once again been called rather roughly, even violently into question.”
The curator for 2011 was to have been Georges Rabbath, who had titled the pavilion “Lebanon As a State of Mind.” Ten artists were to have been featured: Annabel Daou, Etel Adnan, Marya Kazoun, Cornelia Krafft, Ricardo Mbarkho, Samer Mohdad, Jacko Restikian, Shawki Youssef, Camille Zakharia, and CPS (Chamber of Public Secrets). Daou, who grew up in Lebanon and moved to the United States at age 18, told ARTINFO that she received a letter from the culture minister about 10 days ago stating that Lebanon would not participate in the Biennale. Daou said that “I thought possibly there might be issues… obviously these things are difficult,” but that she didn’t expect the pavilion to be canceled after plans were so advanced. Lebanon’s coalition government fell apart in January, and so far the country has been unable to form a new one.
Bahrain (not paricipate)
Bahrain’s inability to send an artist to Venice is especially unfortunate since last year the country had its first appearance at the Venice Architecture Biennale and walked away with the Golden Lion for best pavilion. Curated by architects Noura Al-Sayeh and Fuad Al-Ansari, the national display focused on plans to develop areas along its shores where water has receded and included three traditional fisherman’s huts. The jury was impressed with its “lucid and forceful self-analysis of the nation’s relationship with its rapidly changing coastline.” It is unclear whether Bahrain had already chosen a curator and artist for its appearance in the Venice Biennale this June.
Notes: The Australia Council for the Arts has tapped the Egypt-born sculptor Hany Armanious for its pavilion at the 2011 Venice Biennale. Armanious is known for a wide variety of sculptural work, ranging from sizable installations involving mud, dirt, and bricks to small, handcrafted objects made out of polyurethane, clay, plastic, and foam.