Spanish artist Jaume Plensa, hailed as one of the foremost creators of artworks for public spaces, brings his show Together to the Basilica of San Giorgio, a church he describes as ‘probably the most beautiful in Venice’. These new works reflect Plensa’s interest in the body’s relationship to space, scale, material and place. The artist, who has long been interested in breaking down barriers, sets up a conversation in the space between the two vast sculptures, one situated in the foreground of the altar, and the other in the nave, seeking to connect and communicate on an intuitive level.
2: The astonishing Chiharu Shiota installation for the Japan pavilion
Berlin-based artist Chiharu Shiota has stretched dense swathes of red yarn across the exhibition space and hung hundreds of thousands of keys from the ends. The effect is astonishing. There is a kind of mania to Shiota’s intricate, relentless lengths of yarn, but the complex, architectural shapes she produces are lit from within and these soft, glowing areas suggest a warm, dream-like spirituality. Beneath the red arches, celestial yet weighted by the metal keys, sit two distressed boats, their bottoms covered with keys. Hundreds more spill across the floor. These look oddly human, and one is reminded, horribly, of recent tragedies involving the drowning of refugees. Now, every key hanging above our heads looks like an individual. ‘Keys do look like people,’ concedes the artist, ‘with their round heads and long bodies.’
3: Simon Denny’s exploration of the ‘art’ of the NSA
The Berlin-based artist discusses the leaks of Edward Snowden, the language, graphics and design of the National Security Agency (NSA), how our material is interpreted online and the role of art within institutions. His exhibition, Secret Power, is on show at the Marciana Library in Venice
4: Why for Sarah Lucas (and the British) it’s all about the body
Richard Riley, curator of the British Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale, discusses the ‘standout’ talent of Sarah Lucas, and her show, I Scream Daddio, that focuses squarely on the body (both male and female), and serves up a blend of ‘classicism, irreverence and toughness’.
5: Doug Fishbone’s Leisure Land Golf
The London-based American artist introduces his Crazy Golf course with a difference, featuring nine fully playable holes each created by a different artist and tackling themes relating to tourism, trade, leisure and globalisation. ‘It's designed to be fun but if you look you will see that all the holes have a clear political dimension to them,’ explains Fishbone. Fore!
6: The Rapture of Camille Norment
‘Music is a defining element of what it means to be human,’
says Camille Norment who has created Rapture, a site-specific, sculptural and sonic installation for the Nordic pavilion. ‘Sound moves through things, it shakes them up, ’explains the artist, who has used the building as a body that responds to the sounds within and moving through it. In this film, we see her remarkable glass harmonica, an instrument producing a sound she describes as ‘very visceral, very clean’. Norment explains the work is about ‘shaking things up and transgressing borders&rsquo.;
7: The provocative video works of Nastio Mosquito
‘I understand if what I do provokes people,’ says Angolan artist Nastio Mosquito, who has three video and performance works on show at Oratorio di San Ludovico, a tiny, beautiful oratory, hidden at the end of a residential side-street in Dorsoduro, Venice. Based in Belgium, Mosquito explains this high-octane video installation provides different perspectives on the ‘validation of our individual dreams’, questions ‘how we can live better’, and explores the ‘matter of identity.’
Nastio Mosquito has three video and performance works on show with Ikon gallery at Oratorio di San Ludovico
For more features, interviews and videos from Venice, see our Venice Biennale Blog