National Pavilions at the 59th Venice Biennale | Eastern Europe

This year’s opening of the Venice Biennale was as wet as inspiring. Fruzsina Kacskó, Head of External Relations at viennacontemporary, is sharing her experience and top picks of national pavilions with focus on Eastern Pavilions.

Finally, a live encounter with two vital elements: the sea and art. Courtesy: viennacontemporary / Fruzsina Kacskó

Arriving in Venice on a rainy cold day, involuntarily evoking Thomas Mann and also the melody of “Gloomy Sunday “. The Venice Biennale, the world’s oldest and most prestigious contemporary exhibition, is presenting its 59th edition, after missing one year due to the global pandemic. Many things have changed, the crowd is thinner, the water is clearer, several restaurants and shops have closed or changed, but it is still Venice and the Biennale remains the greatest showcase of contemporary art and global culture. 

The main show “The Milk of Dreams“ is curated by Cecilia Alemani, the Italian-born New Yorker, where the vast majority of artists are women. 

The national pavilions are definitely one of the weakest of the past decades. Many of the artists reflect on past years’ global circumstances with robust installations, sculptures, and textiles.

Here are the most noteworthy National Pavilions:

The much-discussed exhibition by Jakob Lena Knebl and Ashley Hans Scheirl is indeed superb. The duo creates an open stage where visitors are to see and discover the “spaces of desire“.

After many busy pavilions, the Serbian show comes as an island of peace with the distant views of the sky melting in the sea.

A truly exceptional pavilion of Malgorzata Mirga -Tas who is the first Roma artist to represent Poland. She filled the Polish Pavilion with tapestries of 12 parts about Romani migration and everyday life. 

Pastel-colored mosaics cover Keresztes’s sculptures. The lightness of the colors is covering the psychological sufferings and the fear of losing our physical self and that “ our identities becoming imprisoned by the virtual world of social media.” After showing at the Venice Biennale, those works will be brought to the Ludwig Museum in Budapest.

The installation by artistic duo Inguna Skuja and Melissa Braden “Selling Water by the River” is a ceramic creation of an artist’s home ( a female home ) showcasing a bed, a kitchen, and many more. 

The exhibition contains “autobiographical and geographical pieces that use the politics of the home to wrestle with larger themes of oppression in Eastern Europe through a feminist lens”. 

– Solvita Krese, curator to Artsy

In Queendom, Azoulay created a series of large-scale panoramic photomontages and a collaborative sound installation. The space engages visitors through multiple modes of understanding, including architectural interventions that transform the existing pavilion space.

Romantic, minuscule sculptures of cats, mice, and furniture, formed as a fable of the realities imposed by the human intervention into nature. 

Treating the topic of water, inspired by the river in his hometown Kharkiv, Makov exhibits kinetic objects in form of funnels.

Animals and strange creatures dominate over humans, existing species are joined by hermaphrodites and apparitions from fantasy islands, unknown expanses of the universe, or the future.

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