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55th Biennale di Venezia 2013 – Bust a Move

He’s not a patron saint yet, but the addition of Tino Sehgal’s ‘situation’ in the Pavilion Italia, confirms his status as one of the most active participants in the past two years of mega events.  Following his gigantic Tate Turbine Hall commission in which he enlisted over 70 participants in a 4 month marathon of dance, movement, humming, clicking, shooping, speaking, and interacting with the public; and his smaller, but equally energetic situation in the recent Documenta 13, this iteration in Venice is a miniature epic, but no less intense.  Placed between the Jungian visions of the Red Book, and the large notational drawings of Rudolf Steiner, Sehgal’s 3-person ensemble deliver a dance and chant that becomes a kind of trance induced hypnotic meditation.  It is sometimes risky to insert a performance in an exhibition, and this one must sustain throughout the entire run of the Biennale, but it works both as its own delivery and as a tangible bridge between the searching Anthroposophy of Steiner the spiritual revelation drawings of the American Shakers and the active imaginings of Jung.

The Tino Sehgal at Central Pavilion during the official opening of the Biennale Background: drawings by Rudolf Steiner

The Tino Sehgal at Central Pavilion during the official opening of the Biennale
Background: drawings by Rudolf Steiner

Performance is here in other ways too.  In the very engaging Romanian pavilion where an ensemble of performers enact Alexandra Pirici and Manuel Pelmus’ An Immaterial Retrospective of the Venice Biennale, in which they assume frozen tableaux moments derived from past exhibits including Maurizio Cattalan’s La nona ora, 1999-2001 (the one with the Pope and the meteor).  In the Lithuanian pavilion, this time situated in the brutalist gymnasium building, hunkered in behind the via Garibaldi and around from the Arsenale, various performative gestures assume a relational aesthetic stance in an ensemble delivery that interacts with the everyday life of gymnasts, and the artifice of placements.  This pavilion, curated by Raimundas Malašauskas is like a biennale within a biennale, as is the Future Generation presentation by the Ukrainian Pinchuk Foundation – a mixed bag, but contemporary all the same, for which, after the shakers, trancers and Jung’s, one is a little in need of.
– Juliana Engberg

Installation view at the Pavilion of Cyprus and Lithuania (Photo: Robertas Narkus)

Installation view at the Pavilion of Cyprus and Lithuania (Photo: Robertas Narkus)

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