Irish Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale
Artist: Sean Lynch
Curator: Woodrow Kernohan
Commissioner: Mike Fitzpatrick
Venue: Pavilion at Arsenale—Artiglierie
The wry Irish artist Sean Lynch is as much a storyteller and detective as a photographer or sculptor; his artworks are in equal parts visual productions and narrative journalism. His series “DeLorean Progress Report” (2009–11) tracked down the physical remains of the mothballed Belfast DeLorean car factory, now serving as housing for crustaceans at the bottom of Galway Bay. “A blow-by-blow account of stonecarving in Oxford” (2013-14) reconstructed the history of two Dublin-born stonecarver brothers who fell into controversy when their decorative monkey carvings, situated at the city’s Museum of Natural History, were accused of illustrating Darwinian tendencies; they proceeded to litter Oxford’s edifices with stone birds, such as parrots and owls, mocking their institutional critics.
In the Irish pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale, titled “Adventure: Capital,” Lynch elevates his bardic technique to epic scale, turning an anthropological lens on the sprawl of late capitalism and its two-way causal relationships with European history—referencing unexpected dyadic threads, such as ruined classical sculpture with anodyne modern public installations, and ancient European riverine cultural beliefs with Britain’s pandemic traffic roundabouts. In playful multimedia, Lynch guides the viewer along the trail of a modern mythic trickster, tweaking the structures of power and capital that dominate Europe and subverting the dominant media dialogue that glorifies them.