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VENICE BIENNALE 2011 ILLUMInations Bice Curiger currated the 2011 Venice Biennale titled ILLUMInations


ILLUMInations : a look further “…accentuate the ‘light’ of cognitive experience and the intercommunicative, intellectual understanding that accompanies moments of epiphany” (p2) For the 45th Venice Bienalle Bice Curiger curated the exhibition ILLUMInations. So what does that even mean? To illuminate means literally to throw into light, reflecting I think directly on contemporary art which in my mind is throwing out new ideas and putting a different spin on it. While nations Curiger refers to more metaphorically. “It is a ‘United Nations’ of a different kind, following a more open interpretation and with on the possibilities of change and development.” A nation can even refer to the birth of something such as a new idea. Birthing new ideas and throwing them into new light. While this is the theme of the exhibition it also describes contemporary art pretty well. Curiger strongly supports the ideas of the artist and work that is presented at the Bienalle and challenges all of the viewers to take it seriously. She chose her contemporary artists on how strong their style was as well as if they could engage the audience well enough. When reflecting on some

of the work that is shown I can see why she would bring this up. I think with contemporary art it is sometimes hard to take it seriously or even understand it when it is a bunch of wrappers duct taped together or when it becomes something so far strewn from tradition art and craft that you start to wonder what went wrong when did we start to consider this art. But in that I think the definition of art has grown a lot and the medium of it has expanded, this has been proven in the Bienalle. It is a reminder that the times are changing and sometimes it is not about the craft or if it looks pretty but the idea behind it. I’d like to think of these more abstracted or performance pieces like really elaborate sentences. You could of just said it but when you look back the form of it really made the difference. The exhibition was designed to shed light on “the institution itself, drawing attention to fertile opportunities and dormant, unrecognizable strengths as well as to conventions that need to be challenged.� Shedding light on contemporary piece both reflected in the physicality of the piece as well as the thought provoking side of it. Taking large world wide issues and bringing them up to start a conversation. I think the pieces are conversation starters Curiger quotes

“art constitues one of the most valuable elements of civilization and promotes freedom of thought and fraternal understanding among all peoples”. This is a plateform to say things that can not normally be said it is an open forum for issues and statements and to show the world what is really going on. With all nations there are borders at the ILLUMInations exhibition these borders are raised in edgy topics like freedom of speech, which the Denmark pavilion took on with full force with several artists from around the world. But there were many more issues talked about. Through all of these issues and works we are dealing with history. Curiger questions “But does this denote a present day dilemma or an aversion to dealing with history?”(p.5) In response to a divide that you can see with old master artists and new modern or contemporary art. Urs Fischer was one of the artist Curiger chose for the ILLUMInations exhibition. His works were giUrs Fischer, wax man

ant candles so they literally emitted light from them. With these pieces they showed the process of depletion as you could take in many ways (depletion of classic art, history, humanity) You can see the contrast as a full replica of fellow artist burns down and head rolls on the ground and an ordinary office chair. These works use time and material to change and are constantly a different piece visually they are a mess of melted wax in various colors replicating cave like stalactites and mentally the idea of the objects melting and what they represent and what that means to the viewer. It makes you think what do these items really mean to us in the world and how they function. James Turrell literally uses light and illumination as his medium in his work for the Biennale. He creates an illusion of space with colored lights creating forms that seem to be more than they are. He even managed to divide a room into two completely different spaces by just manipulating the light. He has succeeded to “separate light Urs Fischer, wax chair

James Turrell, light

from its source�. It was hard to describe a full experience of his work without actually participating in so I can only imagine what the experience was like. Turrell is challenging what art really is and shows what it could become. I think that it is a great example of intriguing contemporary art that makes you think. It may not directly address large world issues but it does challenge space and the infinite. It challenges lines of distance and proximity. Haroon Mirza created an installation using technology, sound and light. The audience is pulled into a sound proof box where there is a pulsating light on the ceiling that amplifies with sound, builds up and then goes to complete darkness and silence. Mirza created not only an art piece but also an experience that challenges human senses. He deprives the audience of two

main senses that gives them the experience of deprivation. Something that Mirza seems to want the audience to experience more and perhaps bring into their own life. The world continues to move forward and technology continues to grow. I think this piece speaks a lot to that world and how much technology sometimes controls our lives. What would it be like if we didn’t have all of those technological advancements would art be the same? Would our lives be the same? What if we were thrown into complete darkness? His piece The National Apavilion of Then and Now addresses human communication. The craft of the piece and form definitely fall into the contemporary art category as well. The craft is clean with new materials even though this piece seems to rely a lot on the technological aspect and the human interaction. He eloquently states his idea in this installation. Finally I’d like to talk about Nathaniel Mellors piece called Haroon Mirza, The National Pavillion of Then and Now

Nathanial Mellors, Hippy Dialect

“Hippy Dialects� which consists of two animatronics heads that speak short almost schizophrenic statements to each other. The piece I think heavily speaks to communication and could be a representation of the todays society form of speech and the toll that technology has had on us. This conversation is dark and disturbing, at first it seems a little heavy but then when taking in account the form of these heads bobbing back and forth and the witty things they say it sheds a new light. In this arena communication is key because of the fact that so many different cultures are coming together and we don’t all speak the same tongue. The issues presented must visually break that barrier so that the world can have a conversation about it. In the ILLUMInations exhibitions 83 artists contributed their ideas and works as well as 89 nations participated with their own pavilions.

James Turrell (top left), Urs Fisher (bottem left) Haroon Mirza (right)


Vennice Biennale

Venice Biennale: A Look Closer  

Looking at the ILLUMInations essay and theme

Venice Biennale: A Look Closer  

Looking at the ILLUMInations essay and theme