Four Faculty Members Featured in Venice Biennale Art 2019

BY Zoe Contros Kearl, August 22, 2019

Artists Need to Create

© Lauren Bon and The Metabolic Studio, Artists Need to Create on the Same Scale that Society Has the Capacity to Destroy, 2006. Neon. Edition 1/12. © Lauren Bon and The Metabolic Studio. Photograph by Joshua White.


Four Visual Arts faculty members are featured in Venice Bienniale's 58th Annual Art Exhibition, running May 11 to November 24, 2019. Tomas Vu, Rirkrit Trivanija, Kiki Smith, and Sarah Sze all have work on view as part of the exhibition Artists Need to Create on the Same Scale that Society Has the Capacity to Destroy: Mare Nostrum, curated by Phong Bui and Francesca Pietropaolo. 


The exhibition is intended as a meditation on the fragility of our environment and the urgency of the impact of climate change on the Mediterranean Sea. It presents works by over 70 artists, along with a public programming. The project undertakes the full activation of the Brooklyn Rail’s radical ‘social environment’ (a synthesis of Joseph Beuys’s social sculpture and Nicolas Bourriaud’s relational aesthetic). The Brooklyn Rail’s office is moved temporarily on site, producing its monthly issues as well as the River Rail, an offshoot of the Brooklyn Rail focusing on environmental issues. Similar to Jürgen Habermas’s proposed ‘public sphere,’ this shared forum is intended to foster generative conversations on how the arts, politics, and culture are integral parts of the commonwealth of greater public that may lead to necessary steps towards collective action.


Vu (b. Saigon, Vietnam) received a BFA from the University of Texas, El Paso, and an MFA from Yale University. He has been a professor at Columbia University School of the Arts since 1996, when he helped found the LeRoy Neiman Center for Print Studies. In 2000, he was appointed the LeRoy Neiman Professor of Visual Arts. Since its inception, Vu-Daniel has served as Director/Artistic Director of the Neiman center.


Tiravanija (b. Buenos Aires) is widely recognized as one of the most influential artists of his generation. His work defies media-based description, as his practice combines traditional object making, public and private performances, teaching, and other forms of public service and social action. He is the winner of the 2004 Hugo Boss Prize awarded by the Guggenheim Museum. Tiravanija was also awarded the Benesse by the Naoshima Contemporary Art Museum in Japan and the Smithsonian American Art Museum's Lucelia Artist Award. Recently, Tiravanija’s work was shown at Art Basel Miami Beach, November 2016: untitled 2016 (the tyranny of common sense has reached its final stage), DO WE DREAM UNDER THE SAME SKY. His piece was also shown at Art Basel Hong Kong this March 2017: untitled 2009 (who is afraid of chrome, chrome and chrome), untitled 2017 (no water no fire), untitled 2013 (indexical show no. 1), untitled (do we dream under the same sky / June 25, 2016). He is a professor at Columbia University. 


Smith is a prolific sculptor and printmaker. Smith has received numerous awards, including the Skowhegan School of Art's Medal for Sculpture, membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Athena Award for Excellence in Printmaking from the Rhode Island School of Design. She has exhibited her work extensively throughout the United States and Europe. A major retrospective of Smith's work was organized by the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and later traveled to the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2007. The Museum of Modern Art organized a notable retrospective of her prints and multiples in 2003. Smith's work is included in numerous collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Smith is represented by Pace Gallery and lives and works in New York. 


Sze represented the United States at the Venice Biennale in 2013, and was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 2003, and a Radcliffe Fellowship in 2005. She has exhibited in museums worldwide, and her works are held in the permanent collections of prominent institutions, including The Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim Museum, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; The Fondation Cartier, Paris; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and the Museum of Modern Art, Los Angeles. Sze’s work has been featured in The Whitney Biennial (2000), the Carnegie International (1999) and several international biennials, including Berlin (1998), Guangzhou (2015), Liverpool (2008), Lyon (2009), São Paulo (2002), and Venice (1999, 2013, and 2015). Recent institutional exhibitions Sarah Sze: Timekeeper, Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA (2016, traveled to Copenhagen Contemporary, Denmark, in 2017); ARoS Triennial, Arhus, Denmark (2017); and Centrifuge, Haus der Kunst, Munich (2017).