Venice Biennale’s High Prize Goes to Lithuania


VENICE — An opera efficiency on a man-made seaside, by which swimsuited performers break from sunbathing to sing warnings of ecological catastrophe, gained Lithuania the highest prize on Saturday on the Venice Artwork Biennale, the world’s oldest and most high-profile worldwide exhibition of up to date artwork.

“Solar & Sea (Marina)” — introduced by the artists Lina Lapelyte, Vaiva Grainyte and Rugile Barzdziukaite — took the Golden Lion for greatest nationwide participation on the Biennale, beating 89 different nationwide pavilions.

This was the second successive time the prize has gone to a efficiency piece: In 2017, the winner was the German pavilion, for Anne Imhof’s haunting “Faust.”

Saturday’s different large prize, the Golden Lion for greatest participant within the Biennale’s central exhibition, was gained by the American artist and filmmaker Arthur Jafa. He confirmed a stirring 50-minute movie, “The White Album,” by which he juxtaposes photos of white supremacy with portraits of white folks he cares for and is near. Mr. Jafa additionally confirmed a set of monumental sculptures of tires in chains.

“If I might have picked an inventory, I might’ve picked the identical record,” mentioned Catherine Wooden, a senior curator specializing in efficiency on the Tate in London.

Ms. Wooden mentioned the Lithuanian pavilion had “this very intelligent manner of framing folks’s on a regular basis actions and leisure” — mendacity on towels, taking part in board video games, making use of suntan lotion, chatting, studying — with a “fairly highly effective activist dimension” of warnings in opposition to ecological catastrophe and species extinction.

“It’s pedestrian motion assembly this overarching framework of a narrative that was joyful and melancholic on the similar time,” she mentioned.

The Lithuanian pavilion’s curator, Lucia Pietroiusti — who’s curator of basic ecology and reside packages on the Serpentine Galleries in London — mentioned the piece had began out as a barely longer theater efficiency in Lithuanian. She inspired museums to begin considering exterior the field.

“The exhibition format is begging for a sure form of opening up of potentialities,” she mentioned. “We specialize a lot, create these niches of specialism. Then we encounter these big catastrophic conditions like local weather change or species extinction, and we have to discover extra methods to attach.”

The fusion of theater, music, literature and visible arts in “Solar & Sea” was “precisely the form of interdisciplinary collaboration that resonates within the current time,” she added.

The Biennale was established in 1895 as an exhibition of latest artwork from around the globe. As ever extra artists took half, the thought got here as much as have nations construct pavilions.

Belgium’s was the primary to open, in 1907. This 12 months, there have been a complete of 90 nationwide pavilions. They’re normally government-funded. However lately, pavilions have needed to discover various backers. A part of the cash for the Lithuanian pavilion, for example, got here from crowdfunding, its curator mentioned. Different nationwide pavilions depend on non-public donors.

This 12 months’s central exhibition was curated by Ralph Rugoff, the American-born director of the Hayward Gallery in London, and was titled “Might You Stay in Attention-grabbing Occasions.”

In a departure from earlier Biennales, Mr. Rugoff confirmed the identical 79 artists or artist partnerships within the exhibition’s twin venues, the Giardini, a public park, and the Arsenale, a former shipbuilding advanced. Mr. Jafa confirmed his movie within the Giardini and his sculptures within the Arsenale.

The Biennale might be daunting for many who usually are not artwork cognoscenti or contributors within the artwork world. There’s plenty of artwork to see, and a few of it may be forbidding. Efficiency artwork’s rising attraction could also be all the way down to the truth that “it’s truly very accessible,” mentioned RoseLee Goldberg, founding director of Performa, a multidisciplinary arts heart in New York.

“Everybody feels entitled to remark, and feels comfy commenting,” she mentioned. “You don’t really feel intimidated — that there’s a have to have a background in artwork historical past to reply to one thing.”

The Silver Lion for promising younger participant within the central exhibition went to Haris Epaminonda, who was born in Cyprus and lives and works in Berlin.

The five-member jury — led by Stephanie Rosenthal, director of the Gropius Bau contemporary-art museum in Berlin — additionally gave a particular point out to 2 artists: Teresa Margulles, whose work focuses on Mexican girls and their fixed battle with crime and rape; and Otobong Manga.

A particular point out went to the Belgian pavilion for “Mondo Cane,” a comic book, mannequin-based set up by the artists Jos de Gruyter and Harald Thys.

Earlier, a Golden Lion for lifetime achievement was awarded to the American artist Jimmie Durham.

The Venice Biennale runs by Nov. 24.

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