AO On Site for the 54th Venice Biennale 2011: Preview (with photoset) of the 54th International Art Exhibition in the Central Pavilion, and announcement of 2011 winners of the Golden and Silver Lions

June 4th, 2011

Central “International” Pavilion, which partially houses the 54th International Art Exhibition. All images by Caroline Claisse for Art Observed.

Curated by Bice Curiger, The 54th International Art Exhibition opened today to the public. Displayed are works from newcomers and established artists including Maurizio CattelanMartin CreedTrisha DonnellyUrs FischerFischli & WeissKlara LidénChristian MarclayPhilippe ParrenoSigmar PolkePipilotti RistCindy Sherman, and James Turrell. The exhibition’s title, and this year’s theme, is ILLUMInations, inspired in part by 16th century Venetian painter Tintoretto, whose works Curiger boldly included in the exhibition.

Earlier today, Biennale Director Paolo Baratta announced the winners of three official prizes decided on by the International Jury of the 54th International Art Exhibition.

More text, images, and the announcement of the winners after the jump…

Maurizio Cattelan’s pigeon installation in the central pavilion.

The Golden Lion for the Best National Participation went to Christoph Schlingensief’s German pavilion. The pressrelease states that “Christoph Schlingensief has developed a multi-disciplinary practice that is intense, committed, and possesses a strong personal vision. The jury would also like to praise the curatorial work of Susanne Gaensheimer.” Honorable mention was given to the Lithuanian pavilion “for its conceptually elegant, and productively ambiguous framing of a nation’s art history.”

The Golden Lion for the Best Artist at the ILLUMInations exhibition went to Christian Marclay for The Clock, a “masterpiece” that has “made the boundaries between artistic forms and genres irrelevant.” Honorable mention went to Klara Lidén for Untitled, (Trashcan), 2011 as a “confirmation of the strength of her work, its wit and rage, as well as its ability to bring the logic of public intervention into the museum space.”

The Silver Lion for a Promising Young Artist at the ILLUMInations Exhibition went to Haroon Mirza “for the way his work immediately engages the viewer with its refreshing use of weakness and power.”

The jury members chosen by Bice Curiger are visual artist and musician Hassan Khan (Egypt); independent  curator and art critic Carol Yinghua Lu (China); director of the Museion Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Bolzano, Letizia Ragaglia (Italy); writer, critic, and Centre Pompidou curator Christine Macel (France); and filmmaker John Waters (USA).

Previous Golden Lion winners include Louise Bourgeois (France), Richard Serra (USA), Cy Twombly (USA), Gregor Schneider (Germany), Pierre Huyghe (France), Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller (Canada), Marisa Merz (Italy), Su-Mei Tse (Luxembourg), Annette Messager (France), Malick Sidibé (Mali) and Andreas Fogarasi (Hungary).

Installation inside the central pavilion.

In an official interview with La Biennale, Bice Curiger spoke about her practice as a curator, sharing, “I consider myself as a partner of the artists and partner of the audience.” This approach plays out in the exhibition, whose collaborative spirit provides a welcome contrast to the more “competitive” pavilions. Compared with Daniel Birnbaum’s 2009’s international exhibition that presented a majority of mid-career artists, the selection for Curiger’s show is decidedly young. An issue particularly highlighted in Curiger’s choice of artists is the nomadic nature of contemporary art practice – an especially fitting motif given the international nature of the show.

Curiger is an art historian, critic and curator at the Zurich Kunsthaus. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of “Parkett” magazine and is the publishing director of “Tate etc.”

Nicolas Paris, Classroom: Partial exercises.

Nicolas Paris with his work Classroom: Partial exercises.

Norma Jeane

Norma Jeane’s installation

Visitors interacting with Norma Jeane’s work

Cindy Sherman, Untitled (2010)


Tintoretto’s The Last Supper (1592-4)

Tintoretto’s The Stealing of the Dead Body of St Mark (1562-66)

Tintoretto’s Creation of the Animals (1550-53)

David Goldblatt’s Ex-offenders series

Haroon Mirza, Sick (2011)

Cyprien Gaillard, Floods of the Old and New World (2011)

Nathaniel Mellors, Hippy dialectics (OurHouse) (2010)


Young participants in Classroom: Partial exercises by Nicholas Paris


– J. Lindblad

Related Links:

Venice Biennale Releases List of Artists for 2011 ILLUMInations Exhibition [Artinfo]
“I’ve included a very well-known outsider: Tintoretto!” Bice Curiger [The Art Newspaper]
On the Pigeons [NYT]
Breadth in Venice [FT]
Video: La Biennale di Venezia 2011: ILLUMInazioni/Arsenale [Vernissage TV]
Setting the Art World Alight [WSJ]
Art’s Tranquil Voice [WSJ]
The Enormity of the Beast [NYT]
The end of an art prankster [The Art Newspaper]
Arsenale dragon is returning to Africa [The Art Newspaper]
Venice Biennale: Echoes of Old Art [NYT]