Venice Note #5: Focus on the Earth & Environment

As artists explore the landscape of Venice they often seek to return to the original roots of their own land or that of the local topography in order to transverse the physical dislocation of the pavilions and offer a way to envelop the viewer within the experience. Through the upheaval of earth, decomposition and amplification of the natural elements, these artist are able to present their works as interactive organisms.

Nordic Pavilion and Finland presented Falling Tree, a dual show that drew its title from the dramatic event that damaged the Avro Aalto Pavilion in 2011, severing the historic structure. This incident served as a point of departure for Antti Laitinen and Terike Haapoja to undertake the study of trees and their elemental composition and fate, tied to the artists’ broader earth-conscious practices.

Lara Almarcegui’s works are often centered on urban regeneration and casting attention to the materials and processes of construction and deterioration in wastelands and abandoned areas of cities. For the Spanish Pavilion, she focused on the wastelands of Murano Island in Venice, known for its glass production. Filling the pavilion with mounds of outcast matter, rubble, and rock, she draws attention to the margins of Venice and the dialectical experience.

Kimsooja’s wondrous transformation of the Korean Pavilion in To Breath: Bottari offers viewers an escape and a place of meditations amidst the Giardini. The entire interior of the pavilion is covered in a translucent mirror film that allows light to stream into the glass building and creates a kaleidoscopic experience within. Meant to amplify light and create a prismic echo-chamber of color, the piece shifts with every shadow and sunray that dances across it, while an anechoic room allows momentary contemplation removed from all of one’s senses.

Images: Antti Laitinen; Lara Almarcegui; Kimsooja