60th Venice Biennale: What you need to know

Archie Moore and more…

Words: Erin Irwin

April will see the 60th Edition of La Biennale di Venezia, this year titled Stranieri Ovunque – Foreigners Everywhere and curated by Adriano Pedrosa. The Giardini and Arsenale will be filled with presentations by artists from around the globe, each with a singular practice that sits at the forefront of artistic production.

The title of the biennale comes from a series of works by Claire Fontaine collective, with the phrase in turn coming from a Turin collective that sought to fight racism in Italy during the early 2000s. Pedrosa explains that the “the expression Stranieri has several meanings. First of all, that wherever you go and wherever you are you will always encounter foreigners— they/we are everywhere. Secondly, that no matter where you find yourself, you are always truly, and deep down inside, a foreigner”.

This year’s biennale will be distinguished by a curatorial resolution to include art and artists that have never participated in the international exhibition, though some may have been featured in a National Pavilion or collateral event. There will also be particular emphasis on performance art and outdoor projects.

Split into two sections, the International Exhibition will be comprised of Nucleo Contemporaneo and the Nucleo Storico. Nucleo Contemporaneo expands on the theme of the biennale and the concept of ‘straniero’, seeking to encompass several movements and motifs including queer art, outsider art, folk art, and indigenous art. Works will include a mural on the Central Pavillion by Brazil’s Mahku collective and video work from the Disobedience Archive project by Marco Scotini, and there will be a section spotlighting queer abstraction. Nucleo Storico will present works executed in the global south during the 20th century, including several from New Zealand artists Selwyn Wilson and Sandy Adsett.

The Australia Pavilion will see artist Archie Moore present Kith and Kin, which will provide viewers with an immersive experience that reflects on the country’s 254-year and 65,000+ year history. The artist is of Kamilaroi, Bigambul, British, and Scottish heritage, and he regularly explores the complexity of legacy and effects of colonisation through the lens of his own personal experience. Imprisonment and incarceration will be central themes to Kith and Kin, both as a reflection of the experience of First Nations peoples, and that of the settlers that came whilst the country was a penal colony, with the artist’s great-great-grandfather arriving as a convict in 1820. Moore will be only the second First Nations artist to present at the Australia Pavilion.

Of the exhibition, the artist says that “the phrase ‘kith and kin’ simply means friends and family but an earlier old english definition for kith dates from the 1300s and originally meant ‘countrymen’ (kith also meant ‘one’s native land’) and kin: ‘family members’. These words gradually took on the present looser sense: friends and family. Many indigenous Australians, especially those who grew up on country, see the land and other living things as part of their kinship system – the land itself can be a mentor, teacher, parent to a child. the sense of belonging involves everyone and everything and first nations peoples of Australia, which, like most indigenous cultures, is deeply rooted in our sacred landscape from birth until death.”

The Australia Pavilion will be curated by Ellie Buttrose, who says of the presentation that “Kith and Kin physically immerses the audiences in the world of Archie Moore and lays bare how we are all entangled within his web of connections”.

Other Australian artists exhibiting at the biennale include Marlene Gilson and Naminapu Maymuru-White.

The biennale will also see a host of satellite exhibitions and projects, including several home-grown presentations such as Galerie pompom’s Garden of Time, which will exhibit works by artists from Australia and the Netherlands.

The Venice Biennale will run from Saturday 20 April to Sunday 24 November 2024.

This article was posted 13 February 2023.

Image: The Australia Pavilion. Courtesy: Creative Australia.

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