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Trend in sight

Seen at the 2017 Venice Biennale: art that perceives, anticipates and reflects on the complex world

Contemporary Art | Complex thought, a contemporary philosophical current created by scientist Henri Laborit and conceptualized by Edgar Morin in 1982 (Science with conscience), is expanding in the context of our globalized world. Complexity has gradually infiltrated our imagination, our visuals and discourses. We have also found it the 2017 Venice Biennale’s art.

View of the exhibition “The Boat is Leaking. The Captain Lied.” Fondazione Prada, Venice / From left to right: Thomas Demand, Regen (Rain), 2008 - Alexander Kluge, “…Kommt ein Schiff gefahren” (“…A Ship Sails this Way”), 2017 © Photo Attilio Maranzano Courtesy Fondazione Prada
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View of the exhibition “The Boat is Leaking. The Captain Lied.” Fondazione Prada, Venice / From left to right: Thomas Demand, Regen (Rain), 2008 - Alexander Kluge, “…Kommt ein Schiff gefahren” (“…A Ship Sails this Way”), 2017
© Photo Attilio Maranzano Courtesy Fondazione Prada

To reflect on complexity is to reflect on globality and its chain of systems, considering the interconnection of each domain as well as their transversality and interdependence. This reflection also implies the integration of the notion of uncertainty and unexpectedness as a productive process. Although the concept of complexity was conceived forty years ago, we can discern it through art history since antiquity, with works by emblematic painters such as Giotto, Dürer, Da Vinci, Velásquez, Poussin, Duchamp…
The 2017 Venice Biennale reveals this significant trend through curatorial and artistic practices that evidence the need to rethink a world that has become complex :

- The Biennale’s international exhibition Arte Viva Arte, curated by Christine Macel, can be associated with complex thought through its thematic structure, which generates spaces for the visitor to escape : nine trans-pavilions that reveal the mutations of our time : Artists and books / Joys and fears / Common / Earth / Traditions / Shamans / Dionysian / Colors / Time and infinity. The curator’s purpose is to highlight the diversity of artistic practices and their power to translate into a work of art while going beyond their primary meaning. 120 spaces are devoted to artists from all generations and origins, creating an intuitive and discursive journey that invites the visitor to intertwine a sense of intimacy and community to the concept of universality. Some examples are the reactivated works of Sardinian artist Maria Lai, the installation by Taiwanese artist Lee Mingwei, the performance by Brazilian Ernesto Neto with representatives from the Amazon tribe Huni Kuin, which introduces their cosmogony and manifesto; the textile sculptures by German artist Franz Erhard Walther (winner of the Golden Lion as best artist) which are activated through the involvement of the visitors’ bodies and finally the work by Japanese artist Koki Tanaka

- The boat is leaking. The captain lied at the Prada Foundation, is a collective and transversal curatorial project developed by curator Udo Kittelman, artist Thomas Demand, writer and filmmaker Alexander Kluge and director Anna Viebrock. The exhibition is conceived as a platonist journey that involves various artistic media : photography, film, theatre, scenery… Throughout this intuitive journey whose episodes are endlessly intertwined, the visitor’s role shifts : he or she can experience the exhibit in a non-oriented way, simultaneously seeing and being seen.
It should be noted that these presentation concepts are inspired by Les immatériaux (1985) a pioneering exhibition conceived by philosopher Jean-François Lyotard for the Centre Pompidou. Although heavily criticized at the time, the exhibition announced and anticipated a new way of reflecting on the world after the appearance of the internet, with a focus on connection, transversality and intuition.

- Complexity infiltrates the Pavilions at the Giardini.
Faust, the installation on view in the German Pavilion which won the Golden Lion for best national participation, was conceived by Anne Imhof. The artist offers a critical view on the contemporary world while creating a complex device, a space partitioned by transparent glass walls that create an impression of disproportion and change of scale; Imhof multiplies the visitor’s angles of approach, integrating the act of seeing and being seen. The installation is activated by Faustian characters, young men and women wearing dark clothing interact with the space’s furniture and interior structures, following the instructions the artist sends via SMS or resisting to them. In the Japanese Pavilion, artist Takahiro Iwasaki’s installation also offers the visitor a double approach through his work Turned Upside Down, It’s a Forest. Likewise, Spanish artist Jordi Colomer interweaves the global and individual angles, building an artistic proposal that highlights the need for resistance through activism.

Nina Rodrigues-Ely
Publié le 08/06/2017
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View of the exhibition “The Boat is Leaking. The Captain Lied.” Fondazione Prada, Venice / From left to right: Thomas Demand, Regen (Rain), 2008 - Alexander Kluge, “…Kommt ein Schiff gefahren” (“…A Ship Sails this Way”), 2017 © Photo Attilio Maranzano Courtesy Fondazione Prada Maria Lai, Various works, 1981-2008 (mixed materials) © Photo by AVZ: Andrea Avezzù / IR : Italo Rondinella / FG: Francesco Galli / JS : Jacopo Salvi - Courtesy: La Biennale di Venezia Mingwei Lee, The Mending Project 2009/2017 (mixed media interactive installation, table, chairs, thread, fabric items) © Photo by AVZ: Andrea Avezzù / IR : Italo Rondinella / FG: Francesco Galli / JS : Jacopo Salvi - Courtesy: La Biennale di Venezia Ernesto Neto, Um Sagrado Lugar (A Sacred Place), 2017 © Photo by AVZ: Andrea Avezzù / IR : Italo Rondinella / FG: Francesco Galli / JS : Jacopo Salvi - Courtesy: La Biennale di Venezia Franz Erhard Walther, Various works, 1975-1986 (mixed materials) - Prix Lyon d'Or © Photo by AVZ: Andrea Avezzù / IR : Italo Rondinella / FG: Francesco Galli / JS : Jacopo Salvi - Courtesy: La Biennale di Venezia View of the exhibition “The Boat is Leaking. The Captain Lied.” Fondazione Prada, Venice © Photo Delfino Sisto Legnani and Marco Cappelletti Courtesy Fondazione Prada View of the exhibition “The Boat is Leaking. The Captain Lied.” Fondazione Prada, Venice © Photo Delfino Sisto Legnani and Marco Cappelletti Courtesy Fondazione Prada Pavillon allemand Anne Imhof - 57th International Art Exhibition © Photo by AVZ: Andrea Avezzù / IR : Italo Rondinella / FG: Francesco Galli / JS : Jacopo Salvi - Courtesy: La Biennale di Venezia Pavillon allemand Anne Imhof - 57th International Art Exhibition © Photo by AVZ: Andrea Avezzù / IR : Italo Rondinella / FG: Francesco Galli / JS : Jacopo Salvi - Courtesy: La Biennale di Venezia Pavillon allemand Anne Imhof - 57th International Art Exhibition © Photo by AVZ: Andrea Avezzù / IR : Italo Rondinella / FG: Francesco Galli / JS : Jacopo Salvi - Courtesy: La Biennale di Venezia Pavillon japonais - Takahiro Iwasaki, “Turned Upside Down, It's a Forest“ - 57th International Art Exhibition © Photo by AVZ: Andrea Avezzù / IR : Italo Rondinella / FG: Francesco Galli / JS : Jacopo Salvi - Courtesy: La Biennale di Venezia Pavillon espagnol - Jordi Colomer, “¡Únete! Join Us!“ - 57th International Art Exhibition © Photo by AVZ: Andrea Avezzù / IR : Italo Rondinella / FG: Francesco Galli / JS : Jacopo Salvi - Courtesy: La Biennale di Venezia

View of the exhibition “The Boat is Leaking. The Captain Lied.” Fondazione Prada, Venice / From left to right: Thomas Demand, Regen (Rain), 2008 - Alexander Kluge, “…Kommt ein Schiff gefahren” (“…A Ship Sails this Way”), 2017
© Photo Attilio Maranzano Courtesy Fondazione Prada

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