at the 57th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia
Grenada’s first participation as an official national pavilion in 2015 at the 56th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia was historic putting the country on the international contemporary art map. The island was one of the smallest countries to participate in this world-renowned event, resulting in much attention being received for Grenada’s art. Many linkages formed and gave Grenada even more exposure in the ensuing period.
Zena Assi Grenada pavilion 57th Biennale di Venezia
In 2017, Grenada has once again been invited to share its art in this prestigious event.
The first time was historic, this second participation is truly ground-breaking. It is the first time that a country from the Caribbean, aside from the art giant of Cuba, has shown in back to back biennales. Jamaica participated once, and Bahamas once, but up to now Grenada is the only island from the Southern Caribbean to participate. It says a lot about the determination of the artists and the commitment of the Ministry of Culture to once again take on this task of showing Grenada’s art on the world stage.
Exhibition: 12. May -26. November 2017
Asher Mains talking about Sea Lungs
The Honourable Senator Brenda Hood as the Minister of Culture appointed Dr. Susan Mains as Commissioner, and Mr. Omar Donia of Contemporary Practices as the Curator. Mr. Donia has great depth of experience as a curator, and brings professionalism and polish. An open call to artists culminated in a contemporary art exhibition in November, from which Mr. Donia chose the artists to present work in the pavilion. The theme of that call was “The Bridge”, and it will carry through to the Grenada Pavilion in Venice.
The headliner artist will be Jason de Caires Taylor, world known for his underwater sculpture parks. His first venture into putting human sculptures below the water was in Grenada, and from there it has grown to Mexico, Bahamas, and Lanzarote, Spain. Asher Mains will exhibit a new iteration of his Sea Lungs series, which was first seen outside of Grenada at the Trio Bienal in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. A larger, more involved installation will portray the life and death of the reef, and the human relationship with the sea.
Milton Williams Grenada
Milton Williams’ art practice centres around the act of collecting. His work requires extensive travel, during which he collects objects of everyday life from the countries he visits. The work being shown in the Grenada pavilion will be an installation of some of these objects. International artists will also join the Grenada pavilion, emphasizing the nature of the theme, that art is a bridge that connects and unifies people.
The international artists are Alexandre Murucci (Brazil), Khaled Hafez (France), Rashid Al Kahlifa (Bahrain) Mahmoud Obaidi (Canada) and Zena Assi (Lebanon). They eachbring a wealth of exhibitions experiences to share.
A team of volunteers from all over the world will bring this island pavilion to life. An advisory board will guide; again an international selection. Amel Mekkawi will be the Head. Others include Natalia Andakulova founder of Andakulova Gallery – Dubai, a prominent art collector from Spain, Mrs. Monica Mascaros, and Sandra Louison a freelance Arts Consultant, herself of Grenadian heritage, has advised and worked with artists of multi disciplinary genres, and also has a specific interest in creating international artist networks using social media as a resource tool. Sandra is also currently working at Whitechapel Gallery in London. The local organising committee will work under the auspices of the Grenada Arts Council.
Once again this fierce little island will face the Lion of Venice with the greatest of hopes that the Lion will be Golden
Grenada National Pavilion
417 Fondamente Zattere, Spiritu Santo, Dorsoduro, Venice, Italy.
In 2017 What Is A Treasure? Jason de Caires Taylor And Damien Hirst
by Andrea Spaziani
Compare and contrast: life and death, poverty and wealth, truth and truthiness, authorship and ownership, interspecies and anthropocentic, hope and hype…
Damien Hirst’s exhibition “Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable” sounds the death knell for creativity. Despite its name, it is void of imagination, and ripe with the tiresome hallmarks of colonial thinking. Its central narrative is the romanticised ‘freed-slave-turns-art-collector-rags-to-riches-distraction-fantasy’ that Hollywood loves to deploy as a feel-good device to placate consumer hopelessness.
Cif Amotan II is the name of Hirst’s character (anagram for ‘I am fiction’): a liberated slave who sailed from Antioch, Turkey (in what I’m imagining must have been a cruise ship based on the size of his collection), towards a long lost sun temple with all of his treasures. Everything sinks to the bottom of the Indian Ocean, where his collection supposedly stayed submerged for over 2 millennia. Actual underwater time? One month.
The works don’t confront expectations, they uphold them, including objectified ripped nude bodies, cisgender domination, hierarchies upon hierarchies, Disney and pop divas positioned against stolen and repurposed cultural symbols, and the sly insertion of Citroen and Honda logos. Product placement rules in “Treasures from the Wreck of More of the Same.”
Value is shifted away from the authenticity of these ‘treasures’ and towards controlled forgery (each original comes with 2 copies) in a very expensive display of art reenacting the same systems that are being critiqued, or art reenacting the same systems that funnel cash into Hirst’s pocket.
How do you like your art? With an ideology? It’s how I like my coffee…
Jason de Caires Taylor’s Bleached Coral at Grenada Pavilion. Photo Susan Mains
Also at the Biennale Arte 2017 is Jason de Caires Taylor, showing at the Grenada Pavilion approximately 5 minutes downstream of Hirst’s diamond-studded runoff. Despite glaring similarities, Taylor’s Ecological Art has a very different take on marine life and the art object.
Taylor’s first installation Vicissitudes (2006) is situated in Molinere Bay, Grenada, and contains 75 sculptures covering over 800 sq/meters, all UNDERWATER. The sculptures helped to restore marine life after Hurricane Ivan in 2004: Taylor’s first nod towards global warming, the effects of which are linked to greater hurricane intensities. The organic shape of his subjects (local citizens) and the neutral ph of his materials (concrete) are conducive to marine life, such as coral, sponges, algae, and fish. It is art turned artificial reef.
Taylor has made and sunk nearly 1,000 pieces, including locations in Cancun/Isla Mujeres (Mexico), Nassau (Bahamas) and Lanzarote (Spain). To see much of it firsthand, viewers have to submerge themselves. In lieu of the plunge, he installs photographs, or pre-sunken sculptures, like those on view at the Biennale
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