Mexican Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale
For her 2012 work Five Variations of Phonic Circumstances and a Pause, Tania Candiani created an “Embroidery Machine,” which translated the human speech of visitors in private confessional booths into coded graffiti tags on cloth. For his 1997 work Campo de Acción, Luis Felipe Ortega installed long messages and lines of text along a gallery wall. Indeed, neither artist is a stranger to narrative. Candiani’s work mainly addresses the history of technological, phonic, and linguistic systems, while Ortega’s focuses on the interpretation and mechanisms of space; both practices have strong literary referents.
Candiani and Ortega have produced a collaborative, site-specific work to represent Mexico at this year’s Venice Biennale—one that creates a journey through their host city and explores a historical narrative that links the “Bride of the Sea” (as Venice is sometimes called) to the artists’ hometown of Mexico City. Although Venice is famous for its canals, the Mexican capital, which is built on a dried lake bed, was also once an aquatic oasis, before colonial exploitation and industrial development drained the area. For “Possessing Nature,” the artists have mapped a hydraulic line between the various sites that have hosted the Mexican Pavilion since its inaugural year of 2007. In doing so, they investigate the relationship between architecture, infrastructure, and global power.