55th Venice Biennale of Art: Spotlight on the Romanian, Kosovan, Slovak and Czech Pavilion

Alexandra Pirici, If You Don’t Want Us, We Want You, 2011. Intervention in public space, Bucharest.

From 1 June – 24 November 2013 the art world is back in the lagoon. The 55th Venice Biennale of Art will unite artists and art lovers from all over the world. ERSTE Foundation supports two participations from CEE countries and is happy about a third one.

The Romanian Pavilion

tranzit.ro and Raluca Voinea produced and curated this year the show in the Romanian Pavilion at the Giardini. Alexandra Pirici and Manuel Pelmuş present An Immaterial Retrospective of the Venice Biennale. The presentation takes the entire history of the Venice Biennale and reflects it in a national pavilion as in a fragment of a mirror. The retrospective can be seen as an ephemeral monument to the biennale, a critique of its Euro-centrism, vain display of power and luxury or of mere conservatism but also a celebration of its openness for experiments, for the coexistence of virtually all the trends, media, genres, that art uses or represents.By turning the monumental into the immaterial and the object into action, by enacting history, the project also transforms this history; it actualizes it. It is a simultaneous affirmation and undoing, an attempt to archive which is at the same time turned against the weight of the archive, of the storage, of the labels and keys of reading that come with it. By reproducing a variety of works with the means of only a few human bodies, the work changes the scale of what a retrospective can be and implicitly of the biennial itself. It hints at its vastness but it makes it accessible. The bodies of the performers are there present, alive, in tension, contradiction or dependence to one another, exposed to the public. Throughout this year’s Venice biennale, during its opening hours, the performers in the Romanian pavilion are recreating their version of a world’s exposition, one hundred years of history in a day, every day.

Alexandra Pirici, born in 1982, lives and works in Bucharest, Romania. Alexandra has a background in choreography and performing arts but attempts to work undisciplined, across different mediums, including film and music. Manuel Pelmuş is one of the most well-known representatives of Romanian dance in the international context. He works in Bucharest and Oslo. In 2011 he founded Căminul Cultural in Bucharest, together with Brynjar Abel Bandlien and Farid Fairuz.
See also: ro.tranzit.org


The Kosovan Pavilion

The artist Petrit Halilaj has been chosen to represent Kosovo this year. It is the country’s first appearance at the Venice Biennale. Curator Kathrin Rhomberg and Commissioner Erzen Shkololli are well aware of its symbolic and the attention that this project at the Kosovan Pavilion at Arsenale will receive. Petrit Halilaj’s artistic practice is deeply rooted in a constant search of what reality is and how reality might be represented through art. His memories of a rural childhood, his personal experience of war, destruction, exodus and displacement are the very basis of his reflections on life and the human condition. The artist moves back and forth between different countries, between Kosovo, where he grew up and where his family and many friends are; Italy, where he studied; and Berlin, where he temporarily lives. This transnational way of life not only adds to his experience but is also representative of Petrit Halilaj’s specific way of exploring art and reality, and of his continuing attempts to translate or even transform the one into the other. His art can be seen as building bridges between different worlds and realities, ideologies, different generations and phases of life. Petrit Halilaj’s art is unique, but this kind of transnational existence and experience that is at the core of his work, is not. On the contrary, to a varying extent it is an increasingly contemporary reality of everyone’s life and thus all the more radical, a starting point for Kosovo’s first appearance at the Venice Biennale.
See also: kosovopavilion.com


And finally, we are also very excited that in the Pavilion of the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic Zbyněk Baladrán, artist and curator, is presented next to Slovak colleague Petra Feriancová. Zbyněk Baladrán was one of the founder members and curators of the Space for Contemporary Art display established in Prague in 2001. Its merging with tranzit.cz in 2007 produced tranzitdisplay, where Baladrán co-creates the exhibition programme. Together with Vít Havránek he devised the project and exhibition The Monument of Transformation, a three-year research project devoted to social and political transformation. Baladrán was also a member of a team of curators (tranzit.org) of the Manifesta 8 exhibition held in Murcia, Spain in 2010.