My reflections from the Venice National Pavilions (Giardini)

Venice, Apr-24/Nov-24

On our second day at the Venice Biennale, we embarked on a journey through the national pavilions nestled within the Giardini. Despite the lengthy queues snaking through the grounds, we managed to immerse ourselves in the artistic narratives of eight countries. Here are my candid reflections on each:

Great Britain‘s pavilion, curated by John Akomphrah, offered a visually stunning showcase complemented by an immersive sound experience. While the film images captivated, I couldn’t shake the feeling of repetition throughout the exhibition.

In Japan‘s pavilion, curated by Yuko Mohri, I found myself smiling at the ingenious use of decomposing fruits as energy sources for light bulbs, alongside a rainwater collection system. Mohri’s fusion of problem-solving and artistic expression left a lasting impression.

Australia‘s pavilion, curated by Archie Moore, served as a poignant reflection on deaths in custody and the over-representation of Aboriginals in the Australian incarceration system. It provided a solemn space for remembrance and contemplation.

Romania‘s pavilion, curated by Serban Savu and Atelier Brenda, stood out with its captivating mosaics and thought-provoking theme of labour and leisure. Savu’s figurative paintings prompted introspection on a topic seldom explored in such depth.

Brazil‘s pavilion, curated by Gliceria Tupinambá, bore the name Hãhãwpuá, paying homage to the Pataxó tribe. While it effectively highlighted the urgency of preserving indigenous culture, I felt there was room for more nuanced storytelling.

Spain‘s pavilion, curated by Sandra Gamarra, was the highlight of the Giardini for me! My spirits were uplifted when I encountered Gamarra’s innovative “Migrant Art Gallery.” Her work is incredibly stimulating and showcases immense talent, combined with hard work and deep knowledge. Edu Leme, who represents Gamarra at Leme Gallery in Sao Paulo, foresaw her potential 20 years ago; his expert eye cannot be fooled. This pavilion represents a significant step up from the last Biennale’s edition.

Germany‘s pavilion, with contributions from Y Bartana, E Mondtag, M Akstaller, N L’Huillier, R Lippok, and J Werner, envisioned a sci-fi world prioritising nature. However, logistical challenges such as long queues detracted from the overall experience.

Finally, the USA‘s pavilion, curated by Jeffrey Gibson, concluded our day on a high note with its vibrant celebration of American Indigenous culture within the context of pop culture. Gibson’s kaleidoscopic presentation left me feeling uplifted and inspired.erience.

Isabela Galvao to London Art Walk
April 2024