Day #3 - Arsenale round-up & Venetian Blind opening

Following the opening of the New Zealand Pavilion last night, we went back to talk to Lead Curator Zara Stanhope and Project Curator Chris Sharp about their involvement in Post hoc. Zara and Chris have an intimate knowledge of Dane Mitchell’s practice as they have worked alongside him since the beginning of this project two years ago, as well as having worked with him previously.

Post hoc by Dane Mitchell, Palazzine Canonica, New Zealand Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, 2019.

We talked with Zara on how Post hoc does not only operate within the Biennale framework, but also extends its reach to local residents and the general public alike who might not view the trees as art but rather as infrastructure.

'We have this engineered anechoic chamber here and also these very lumpen stealth tower trees, three of which you’ve seen around the Marine Institute here and four more placed around Venice. So in a sense, Post hoc is a project which is like a network over and amongst the city. It is not just here in this Pavilion but really radiates out across Venice.'

Contemporary HUM interviews Zara Stanhope, Lead Curator of Post hoc, 2019.

Chris described the anechoic chamber as 'a metaphor, to a certain extent, for the entire project, in that it is trying to present or contain this vast loss, these 3 million words, these over 250 lists and these seven months of speech, of utterances. At the same time, in the box is this uncontainable thing so it’s almost like this speech is deliberately a false sense of containment, which is the core of the project.'

HUM will be publishing our full conversations with Zara, Chris and other key figures involved in NZ at Venice 2019 in the coming weeks.

Next, we headed on to the Arsenale to visit Ralph Rugoff's curated exhibition and several other national pavilions. A specific decision of this year's curator was to include the same artists in both curated sections of the Giardini and Arsenale, which offered a deeper understanding of the selected artist's work. Despite the long queues and big crowds, the Arsenale didn’t feel crammed which was testament to Rugoff’s strong curatorial eye.

Images: Hito Steyerl, This is the future, 2019; Neïl Beloufa, Global Agreement, 2018-19; Tarek Atoui performance 9th May 2019; Korakrit Arunanondchai with Alex Gvojc, No history in a room filled with people with funny names 5, 2018; Teresa Margolles, La Búsqueda, 2014; Augustas Serapinas, Chair for the Invigilator, 2019; Ed Atkins, Old Food, 2017-19.

One of our highlights was seeing the Ghana pavilion marking the first time the country has participated in a Venice Biennale. The pavilion itself was designed by architect Sir David Adjaye, and featured a number of artists such as John Akomfrah, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, El Anatsui and Ghana’s first professional female photographer, Felicia Abban. The pavilion was particularly poignant with the death of its curator Okwui Enwezor earlier this year.

Another standout was the Ukrainian pavilion; the project consisted of flying a cargo aircraft over Venice which contained a digital directory of all living Ukrainian artists who wanted to participate.

The Shadow of Dream Cast Upon Giardini della Biennale, Pavilion of Ukraine; Anna K.E. Rearmirrorview, Georgian Pavilion; Eva Rothschild, Irish Pavilion.

After the Arsenale shut for the day, we headed over to the opening of Venetian Blind, a multi-disciplinary project co-curated by David Cross and Cameron Bishop at Palazzo Bembo. Over the course of the Biennale, six groups of post-grad students and academics from Deakin University in Australia will travel to Venice where they will be handed a provocation relating to the city's history, and respond through site-specific actions in the public space. The groups can choose any form of presentation, the only requirement being that they document it in the gallery space at Palazzo Bembo.

Top: HUM talks to Venetian Blind co-curators David Cross and Cameron Bishop at Palazzo Bembo, 2019. Bottom (L): Opening night of Venetian Blind, 2019. (R): Each box contains a set of materials that participating groups will use in their project.

All photos: Contemporary HUM