Adrian Piper in All the World’s Futures, La Biennale di Venezia, 2015

by James Lipovac
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I was recently bowled over by the powerful work of Adrian Piper currently on display in Venice.  A conceptual artist with a PhD in philosophy from Harvard, Piper was born in New York City and works out of Berlin. Her art opens eyes and seeks to build bridges between people. Last week at the Biennale, she received the Golden Lion for best artist for her efforts.

Among the group of pieces is an interactive installation titled “Rules of the Game” which called on viewers to sign life-long contracts at three separate desks, with one of the three rules:

I will always be too expensive to buy

I will always mean what I say

I will always do what I say I am going to do

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In another room, objects were covered with the words “everything will be taken away” and hung next to a giant photo of the Nazis at their Degenerate Art Show. I was taken, as is often the case, by the way the work effected the audience, or didn’t. You can see in the photo at the top of the post, viewers standing around blankly, while the man on the right talked loudly on his cellphone for the entire time I was viewing at the work. Her ominous prediction sees so much more probable in this setting. After a week of contemplating the theme of All the World’s Futures, I found Piper’s directness on the topic hard to describe as anything less than courageous and superb.

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Adrian Ghenie @ the Romania Pavilion, La Biennale di Venezia, 2015

by James Lipovac DSC03729

This image of a giant Venus Fly trap dwarfing a man in a trench coat standing underneath a menacingly heavy sky was a stand-out at Ghenie’s speculator painting performance at the 56th La Biennale di Venezia in the Romanian Pavilion.

I first came across Adrian Ghenie’s work at Pace in New York in March of 2013. A painter friend of mine encourage me to check out the show. The strength of the work is Ghenie’s ability to harmonize elements of abstract figuration and more realistic interpretations all in the same canvas.

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I was excited to see what a fellow painter would do given the chance to represent their own nation, in this case, Romania. In his show “Darwin’s Room” Ghenie uses Darwin, evolution, and survival as themes for his grand brushwork and sheets of oil. He switches between and harmonizes intimate slow moments of finessed detail, larges areas of squeegeed paint, and thick sections of impasto.

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Chiharu Shiota “The Key in the Hand” @ the Japan Pavilion, La Biennale da Venezia 2015

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Chiharu Shiota’s  “The Key in the Hand” installation is a bold vision of the the dark beauty of the human life lived. This Berlin-based artist was born in Osaka Prefecture in 1972.

Curator, Hitoshi Nakano- “After being confronted with the deaths of several intimate friends and family in recent years, Shiota has converted these experiences into the lingua franca of pure and sublime art without averting her eyes from the reality that all human beings must face “life” and “death” but that each of us must do so individually. “


BGL to represent Cananda in the Venice Biennale

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After seeing this fox impaled by a plexi spire, the Futurelab is excited to see what BGL, an artist collective established in 1996, comes up with for this year’s Venice Biennale.

The three artists live and work in Québec City.

From the Parisan Laundry website:

Renowned for cheeky, critical and explosive works, BGL creates self-referential, site-specific installations that seek to re-contextualize the space of the gallery. These artworks are at once nostalgic, while simultaneously indebted to contemporary culture. The trio often utilizes local signage, foodstuffs and urban clichés as references into a long-term investigation of our own unpredictable relationship with nature and consumer culture. Within BGL’s playful scenarios, we are able to witness the transformation of the Canadian landscape: an ongoing battle between the organic and the artificial. As a result, the viewer becomes more aware of their personal implication in a disposable consumer culture. This is precisely what BGL is engaging with in their artistic practice: a process of recycling and reusing that is then restaged and recontextualized within the gallery space. The collective’s massive exhibitions have included the staging of a seasonal ornamental tree factory, a bonfire and even a ‘Marché aux puces’ (flea market). Such works reposition found objects, cultural ephemera and unique sculptures in new and thought-provoking ways.

BGL was created while the three members—Jasmin Bilodeau, Sébastien Giguère and Nicolas Laverdière—were students at Laval University. For almost two decades now, the collective has presented major installations and performances and participated in innumerable group and solo exhibitions. BGL has been invited to show their work by a variety of institutions, including the first edition of the Bienal del fin del mundo (Ushuaia, Argentina), the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, the Musée d’art moderne Lille Métropole (France), Mercer Union (Toronto), Hart House (Toronto), The Havana Biennale (Cuba) and The Montreal Biennale. More recently, the artists have enchanted their public with the installation Fancy Canada conceived especially for the 2013 major group exhibition Oh Canada! at MASS MoCA (Massachussetts). In 2012, the members of BGL took part in the Louis Odette Sculptor-in-Residence Program at York University (Toronto). Recent notable projects include Alberta’s Nuit Blanche, Cultiver son jardin at the UQAM gallery,Marshmallow, Cauldron + Fire at the Vancouver Art Gallery and Le discours des éléments at the National Gallery of Canada, among others. The collective has been recognized by the Canada Council for the Arts and The Conseil des arts et lettres du Québec on numerous occasions and has twice been a finalist for the Sobey Art Award. Their work is found in the collections of The Musée National des beaux-arts du Québec, The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, and The National Gallery of Canada. BGL was chosen to represent Canada at the 2015 Venice Biennale.