The 59th Venice Biennale is just around the corner, and after the past two years, the “highly anticipated” doesn’t seem to be cutting it entirely. Soon, the labyrinth of waterways will be packed with art-hungry crowds as the global art world once again descends upon the world’s most prestigious art event (23 April to 27 November 2022).
Cecilia Alemani to host central exhibition ‘The Milk of Dreams’ at Arsenal and Giardini, named after surrealist icon Lay A book by Leonora Carrington, the surrounding palazzo is full of world-class Venice Biennale accessory events.
There will also be a number of firsts this year. Eight countries – Cameroon, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Namibia, Nepal, Oman, Uganda and Uzbekistan – will debut at the Venice Biennale, while the Nordic Pavilion will be taken over by indigenous Sami artists for the first time.
With more than 90 national pavilions at Giardini and Arsenale this year, reducing our must-sees isn’t the easiest task, but here’s what we’re most excited about:
The 59th Venice Biennale: the best choices for the national pavilion in 2022
Germany: Maria Eichhorn
Maria Eichhorn, Maria Eichhorn Aktiengesellschaft [Maria Eichhorn Public Limited Company], 2002, detail, exhibition view, Documenta11, Kassel, Maria Eichhorn / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2021. Photography: Werner Maschmann
Known for her deft wit and stunning conceptualism, Maria Eichhorn is sure to stop and think at Giardini this year. If her acquisition of the German Pavilion is similar to her 2016 show at Chisenhale Gallery (the artist simply closed the non-profit space to offer employees 5 weeks, 25 days and 175 hours of paid leave), or at Documenta11 (for which she Setting up a public limited company where the company itself is the sole shareholder and is prohibited from increasing capital), we needed something special.
UK: Sonia Boyce
Sonia Boyce, For you, only you (installation view), 2007. Three-channel video installation. 14 minutes 35 seconds © Sonia Boyce. All rights reserved, DACS/Artimage 2022. Photography Mike Pollard
Sonia Boyce’s pavilion will be a quintessentially collaborative, improvised and social practice-led installation comprising video, sound, wallpaper and sculptural objects. As the artist explains: “Few would question the enormous challenges we have faced together over the past two years. For me, in the journey of creating new works, it is the irrepressible spirit of human creativity that shines.
Hong Kong: Angie Su
Video performance photos Lauren O’s magnificent levitation Angela Su 2022 Courtesy of the artist. Photography: M+ commissioned Jialin Image
Angela Su’s multi-faceted work explores perception and the body through morphing, mixing, transformation and levitation. In addition to her pavilion exhibition, Su will present a side exhibition “Arise, Hong Kong in Venice” co-organized by M+, Hong Kong’s Museum of Global Contemporary Visual Culture, and the Hong Kong Arts Development Council (HKADC). As M+ Deputy Curator and Chief Curator Chong Dao Run said: “Su Anqi is widely known for her complex biomorphic paintings and performances, marking the maturing of Hong Kong’s art scene and its growing international recognition.”
Denmark: Uf Isoloto
Uf Isoloto’, Pangaia (New Age Headache), 2016. Exhibition “My God! Is it still alive?”, ARKEN Museum of Modern Art, Ishøj, Denmark, 2017. Photography: Anders Sunenberg
If there were two words that could describe recent world events, it would be surrealism and surrealism. The same goes for Uffe Isolotto’s Danish pavilion “We Walked the Earth,” which will invite viewers into a mysterious world where elements of Danish pastoral life merge with a grotesque sci-fi phenomenon – a haunting image of an uncertain future.
Canada: Stan Douglas
Stan Douglas London, 9th August 2011 (Pemberley House)2017. © Stan Douglas.Courtesy of artists Victoria Miro and David Zwirner
First at the Canada Pavilion, Stan Douglas’s exhibition will unfold in two venues in Venice. Douglas will present four large-scale photographs in Giardini, while a 16th-century salt warehouse in Dorsoduro will be transformed by a major two-channel video installation. The artist’s striking work will compare the socio-political events of 2011 and 1848, delving into themes of journalism, combating the lack of democratic freedoms and the disintegration of sovereign elites.
Ghana: Group Introduction
Nana Opoku, (Afroscope) Dreamer Series2021
Following its debut at the 2019 Art Biennale, Ghana will present the group exhibition “Black Star – A Museum of Freedom” featuring large-scale installations by three artists: Na Chainkua Reindorf, Afroscope and Diego Araúja. The show takes its name from the Black Star, which symbolizes Ghana, and Africa’s connection with its diaspora, through its flag, national football team and most notably national monuments.
dumb type, Trace/React II. Photography: Kazuo Fukunaga
Groundbreaking art collective Dumb Type is known for immersive installations, video works and performances that examine consumer culture in a modern and technology-driven era. Based on a geography textbook from the 1850s, its new work for the Japan Pavilion promises sensory saturation fit for an “era of post-truth and critical space”.
Brazil: Jonasas de Andrade
Jonathan De Andrade, OPEC [The Fish]2016. Video still. Courtesy of the artist
New installation by Aragonese artist Jonasas de Andrade Com o coração saindo pela boca [With the heart coming out of the mouth] Drawing on numerous Brazilian expressions and idioms that refer to the human body to express feelings and behaviors. Visitors can look forward to photographic impressions, sculptures (some interactive) and a video work on themes of pop culture, nostalgia, pornography and political criticism.
United States: Simone Leigh
Simone Lee, 2021. Artwork © Simone Leigh. Courtesy of the artist and Matthew Marks Gallery. Image credit: Shaniqwa Jarvis
Sculptor Simone Leigh’s Venice exhibition will be one of the year’s headlines, exploring and elevating ideas about history, race, gender, labor and monuments to regain a powerful narrative for black women, a major solo show at ICA Boston Staged before 2023. As Jill Medvedow, Director of ICA Ellen Matilda Poss and Co-Commissioner of the US Pavilion, said: “The scale and grandeur of Leigh’s art requires visibility and power; it is exploratory, timely and urgent.
ORTA Collective, Alexandra Morozova in circular cardboard – genius light generator2022. Photo: ORTA Collective. © ORTA Collective / Courtesy of the artist
The interdisciplinary collective ORTA (Alexandra Morozova, Rustem Begenov, Darya Dzhumelya, Alexandr Bakanov and Sabina Kuangaliyeva) will present the life and work of Almaty artist, writer and inventor Sergey Kalmykov (1891-1967) in their pavilion exhibition. LAI-PI-CHU-PLEE-LAPA New Talent Center is an experimental research station that explores the central idea of Kalmykov and the most important of his many alter-ego’s, “the great and immortal builder of the vortex of the flying tower”. interested? You are not alone.
Oman: group exhibition
The Sultanate of Oman debuted at the Venice Biennale with a group exhibition “Destined Imagination” bringing together the work of five Omani artists spanning three generations: Anwar Sonya, Hassan Meer, Budoor Al Riyami, Radhika Khimji and the late Raiya Al Ravashi. Their contributions range from family recollections of the 1960s and 1970s (a turning point in Oman’s modernization), to rock formation installations and films that reflect on how Omani identity is shaped by geography, and a film about art and technology that imagines the future has grown to artist unemployment The point; all of this is displayed in a pavilion inside the Armory designed by Muscat architect Haitham Al Busafi.
Screenwriter: TF Chan
Iceland: Sigurður Guðjónsson
Sigurður Guðjónsson, Fluorescent light 32021. Photos courtesy of BERG Contemporary and the artist
Located in the Armory for the first time, the Iceland Pavilion will showcase the multifaceted work created by Sigurður Guðjónsson, known for his organic and high-tech synergy between visual, audio and spatial. According to project curator and CERN curator Monica Bello, the artist’s exhibition promises a synesthetic experience that stretches the senses, revealing “the richness and elegance of matter.”
Ireland: Niamh O’Malley
Niam O’Malley, shelf2017. Photo by Ross Kavanagh.Salute to the artist
Niamh O’Malley’s exhibition “Gathering” begins at the artist’s workspace at Temple Bar Gallery + Studios (TBG+S) in Dublin, where stone, steel, wood and glass are shaped, combined and assembled. Known for his minimalist sculptures and video works, the artist is interested in negotiating between landscapes and how objects and spaces speak.
Switzerland: Latifa Echakhch
Latifa Echakhch’s installation for the Swiss Pavilion is one of harmony and discord. Conceived in collaboration with percussionist and composer Alexandre Babel and curator Francesco Stocchi, concertwill take visitors through time counterclockwise, surrounded by sculptures shrouded in eerie creeping darkness.
Italy: Gian Maria Tosatti
Photography: Maddalena Tataro
For the first time in its history, the Italian Pavilion will showcase the work of one artist. Gian Maria Tosatti has the privilege of occupying the entire Tese delle Vergini space for his large-scale, site-specific installations.This powerful and disturbing work, titled The history of the night and the fate of the cometis a story of duality: between man and nature; sustainable development and territory; morality and interest.