This is Nigeria’s first year at the Venice Biennale. This is interesting, seeing as the curator for the biennale in 2015, Okwui Enwezor, was from Nigeria. The work is appropriately titled How About Now. Three artists were selected – Peju Alatise created a piece titled Flying Girls, Victor Ehikhamenor exhibits his massive painted canvas with mirrors and sculptures from the Benin City market, and Qudus Onikeku’s performance piece is visible in the third room.
Located in the Giardini, the Korean pavilion stands out like a disco in the desert and would not be amiss at Afrikaburn. The outside facade of the building has a gigantic casino arcade with neon lights enticing visitors to 24/7 orgasms, all-night parties and more. Created by Cody Choi and called Venetian Rhapsody, the facade flips the consumerist nature of American culture in Korea back on itself, and re-commodifies it while commenting on consumerist culture.The second artist, Lee Wan, created a series of works with various clocks running at different speeds. He spent time interviewing hundreds of people to determine how long they have to work to make enough money for breakfast. Each clock runs according to that person’s hourly wage.
We have to admit; we gatecrashed the New Zealand opening party for a short while – thanks for the Spritzes! Located at the end of the Arsenale, the pavilion takes the form of a moving video installation about 20 to 30cm, titled In Pursuit of Venus by artist Lisa Reihana. It plays out various scenes that evoke New Zealand’s colonial history and the controversial British “explorer”, Captain James Cook, and more.
Wooden houses and building constructions are mirrored and hung in the space. In the middle, visitors peer up through the floor. All are surprised when they realised they’re part of the exhibition.
As we stepped into the Azerbaijan pavilion, we entered a floor-to-ceiling projection of identities from various histories and cultures speaking to the duplicity of identity in the country. Upstairs, two massive installations of string instruments fill up two rooms.
Native American Pavilion
This is a small fringe pavilion located in Dorsoduro in the university grounds and hosted by Zuecca projects. The project deals with water rights, access and the future of water. At the one corner of the garden, massive pillars were exhumed from the foundations on which Venice was built. These pillars are replaced every so often as they decay, but some have also fossilised due to the salty water.
The Green Light Project
Massive bio-dome tents with fluorescent lighting cover bodies that look like figures of Christ the Redeemer. Roberto Cuoghi re-created a large scale, mass produced crucifixion factory. The last installation took our breath away. We walked through a dark, low labyrinth of scaffolding and up a flight of scaffolding steps. When we turned around, we were greeted by the view of an upside-down warehouse roof. At first, it’s difficult to make out how this would be possible but on closer inspection, it’s apparent that what you are seeing is a picture-perfect reflection of the roof in water.
Claudia Fontes created a huge three-storey high white horse arching towards a female figure. It’s a must-see!
Vahjiko Chachkhiani constructed a small “abandoned” wooden house with a constant downpour of rain inside. Over the course of the biennale, the pavilion will decay with rot but remain solid on the outside.