Seven Columbia Artists to Participate in Venice Biennale

March 19, 2015

A number of Columbia visual artists are featured at this year's Venice Biennale. The Bienniale, which was first established in 1895, is one of the most prestigious exhibitions of fine arts, music, cinema, theatre, dance and architecture in the world. Among the artists and entities represented are Huma Bhabha ('87), e-flux, which was created by Julieta Aranda('06),  Joan Jonas ('65), Mika Rottenberg ('04), Gedi Sibony ('00), and faculty members Sarah Sze and Rirkrit Tiravanija.

Joan Jonas was selected by the State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs to represent the United States at the Biennale, where she will create a site-specific piece for the American pavilion. In a piece for The New York Times last year announcing Jonas's selection, Carol Vogel called her "a pioneering figure in performance and video art."

"Trained in art history and sculpture, Jonas was a central figure in the performance art movement of the late 1960s, and her experiments and productions in the late 1960s and early 1970s continue to be crucial to the development of many contemporary art genres, from performance and video to conceptual art and theater," according to a website created to preview the Venice installation. "Since 1968, her practice has explored ways of seeing, the rhythms of ritual, and the authority of objects and gestures."

The 56th edition of the International Art Exhibition that takes place at the Venice Biennale is titled All the World’s Futures, and curated by Okwui Enwezor. This highly anticipated exhibition features Huma Bhabha, e-flux, Mika Rottenberg, Gedi Sibony, Sarah Sze and Rirkrit Tiravanija.

Huma Bhabha lives and works in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. She "makes strange and compelling work — sculpture, drawing, photography and prints — that engages the arts and histories of many world cultures," Steel Stillman wrote for an interview with her for Art in America magazine in 2010.

E-flux is a monthly magazine as well as what its website describes as "a publishing platform and archive, artist project, curatorial platform, and enterprise." E-flux is the creation of Julieta Aranda, who divides her time between New York and Berlin.

"Her explorations span installation, video, and print media, with a special interest in the creation and manipulation of artistic exchange and the subversion of traditional notions of commerce through art making," the Guggenheim, which has exhibited Aranda's work, wrote in a biography for her for its website.

Mika Rottenberg is a video installation artist who lives and works in Brooklyn. A sample of her work is featured on website for the PBS show Art21.

In an interview with her for BOMB Magazine in 2010, Judith Hudson wrote that Rottenberg "creates mini-factories, farms, and tableaux, which produce products variously made by tremendously fat, tall, muscled, long-haired or long-fingernailed women."

Gedi Sibony is a sculptor who builds his pieces from the sorts of materials that are discarded from construction and demolition sites, including cardboard, carpet, tape, vinyl, and garbage bags.

"(T)he results aren't about overaccumulation," Christopher Bollen wrote in a piece for Interview magazine. "Like a raw, much more ephemeral DIY version of high minimalism, Sibony's aim is space, balance, and open-ended strategies. His works are more poems than speeches."

Professor Sarah Sze is returning to the Biennale, where she officially represented the United States in 2013 with her installation Triple Point.

"Sze builds her installations and intricate sculptures from the minutiae of everyday life, imbuing mundane materials, marks, and processes with surprising significance," according to her biography on the Art21 website. "Combining domestic detritus and office supplies into fantastical miniatures, she builds her works, fractal-like, on an architectural scale."

Professor Rirkrit Tiravanija is a conceptual and installation artist.

"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," the BMW Guggenheim Lab wrote for an online biography. The same page offers Tiravanija's vision statement for Confronting Comfort, the lab's theme. It begins:

I am interested in time

I am interested in time between spaces

I am interested in time and spaces between things

I am interested in time between spaces and things and people

I am interested in time between people

I am interested in spaces between people

I am interested in contingencies between people and place

The Venice Biennale will run from May 9 through November 22.