How do you think Un chino de paso por Venecia, camino a Cuba (A Chinese Man Passes Through Venice On His Way To Cuba) fit in the general context of the Biennial, or didn’t it?
I think it was effectively suited for the Biennial because it broached themes such as emigration and power conflicts among human groups in historical and present contexts. During my stay in Venice I saw that many exhibitions had similar approaches, such as the pavilions of Greece, New Zealand, and Germany, just to mention a few.
How do you evaluate the experience of participating with a solo show in the Venice Biennial?
I am still reflecting on what it means to have a solo show in Venice coinciding with its Biennial. I can say that it enabled me to experience from inside the work processes that are carried out in independent spaces and galleries in parallel to the central event.
Did you visit the central exhibition, other national pavilions, or the collateral showcases? What particularly impressed you?
I visited many exhibition spaces of the Venice Biennial and came to the conclusion that it would take at least three weeks to see the entire event. Looking at the Biennial from a distance I can say that the national pavilions of Egypt, Greece, NSK, New Zealand, and Cuba were my favorites. At the central exhibition I liked the piece Atrato by Marcos Ávila Forero very much, and from the collateral showcases, the retrospective of Tehching Hsieh. For me it was a reunion with his work, which I saw in Montreal eight years ago.
The artist Moataz Mohamed Nasr Eldin, who exhibited in the Egyptian Pavilion, succeeded in creating a shocking atmosphere in which the new media and primary materials like earth or clay were brought together to create an environment that made you feel as if you were inside the images in the video.
I really liked the work by artist George Drivas in the Greek Pavilion because, in a very subtle and creative way, he presented the migratory conflicts faced by our world today. On the other hand, New Zealand approached the same conflicts with more direct images and actions of artist Lisa Reihana, such as the slogans Refugee Rights and Indigenous Rights printed on the bags handed out to the visitors.
The NSK State Pavilion, represented by and commissioned by the IRWIN artistic collective, is quite interesting. It is a project created in Slovenia that consisted of creating a country recognized in the system, but without physical territory. This country has the authority to issue valid passports with almost universal recognition, and that makes it possible for many people to be NSK citizens. The public could apply for NSK citizenship and later receive their passports. Being present at the opening of the pavilion was special for me, because some years ago I visited these artists’ studio in Ljubljana and saw the project that they now turned into a reality.
I think the Cuban Pavilion broached many themes such as emigration, religion, politics, history, and human desires that the selected artists had been developing in their works. The curatorial selection offered a diversity of themes and confluence of generations that worked very well. For example, I see a very special connection between Carlos Martiel’s performance and the work by Meira Marrero & José Ángel Toirac, artists from different generations but with similar concerns that respond to the same context. The curatorial design of the works displayed on the first and second floors also caught my attention. The Cuban Pavilion was among those that aroused most interest in this edition. This is not just my opinion but that of many people I later met in Venice and other European cities.