When the 58th Venice Biennale opens on May 11, 2019 in Venice, Italy, the collective Isuma will make history as the first Inuit artists to exhibit in the Canada Pavilion as part of the months-long exhibition. Ahead of the opening, from immersive worlds to poetic works and more, our editorial team has rounded-up their must-sees for surrounding installations at this premiere contemporary art event.
Anthea Hamilton — Arsenale
London-based Anthea Hamilton’s large-scale installations are something to behold. The artist often incorporates the physical space of the gallery into her projects—allowing observers to become fully immersed in her work, taking a walk through art and becoming part of the installation. Notably, she employed this strategy in her 2018 exhibition The New Life at Secession Gallery in Vienna, Austria, that combined both the structure of the institution and the visually stunning lines of her family tartan together to fully engage visitors in her work. Hamilton’s grandeur will certainly be a standout in the 2019 Venice Biennale’s main exhibition May You Live In Interesting Times and worth seeing for yourself.
— Napatsi Folger, Contributing Editor
El Anatsui, Ibrahim Mahama, Felicia Abban, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, John Akomfrah, and Selasi Awusi Sosu — Ghana Pavilion
This year’s edition of the Biennale is full of firsts, not limited to Isuma’s landmark representation of Canada at the country’s national Pavilion. 2019 also marks the first year Ghana will present a national Pavilion, featuring an all-star line up of contemporary Ghanian artists including John Akomfrah, El Anatsui, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye and others. Presented in a newly constructed pavilion, designed by award-winning architect David Adjaye, this group exhibition will provide a welcome look at the West African nations exceptional artistic output on the international stage.
— Alysa Procida, Executive Director and Publisher
Shilpa Gupta — Arsenale
Shilpa Gupta’s work challenges us to examine all the lines of containment we have drawn in our world. These are the arbitrary lines on maps, our understanding of the limits of language and relation with other human beings, and the restrictive ways we may view the usefulness of things. As a writer, I am always excited to see works that play with our ideas on what is language, and how we communicate in ways that may be outside our initial understanding of language. I am also fond of things that are made of other things. Gupta is a master of making work from found objects and she often uses words and poetry in her creations. Her practice engages the audience even to the point of touching or sometimes leaving with a physical piece of the work; even pushing the lines that contain work/artist/audience. Her work tells me that she has the soul of a poet.
— Taqralik Partridge, Editor-at-Large
Nadia Myre – Zuecca Project Space
Zuecca Projects, a contemporary art space not affiliated with the official proceedings of the Biennale, will be exhibiting the work of Anishinaabe artist Nadia Myre and Mohawk artist Alan Michelson in Volume 0. The project asks Myre and Michelson to respond to European perceptions of North American Indigenous people and their historical connections to Venice. I’m excited to see what Myre, an artist celebrated for her delicate, intricate work with glass beads, will show in the context of a city with some of the most significant art glass studios and how that work will function as an act of decolonization in the world’s leading art exhibition.
—Britt Gallpen, Editorial Director
Larissa Sansour – Danish Pavilion
Representing Denmark at this year’s Biennale, Danish and Palestinian artist Larissa Sansour crafts a world for her audience through a science fiction film, sculptural installation and architectural intervention. Centering on her film In Vitro directed with Søren Lind, Sansour explores themes of trauma, memory, myth and history in a story set in a dystopian city of Bethlehem, decades into the future after an environmental disaster. Paired with her sculptural installation representing a key psychological element in the film, Sansour’s exhibition Heirloom invites viewers into an immersive and imposing storytelling experience.
—Emily Henderson, Contributing Editor