Venice Biennale represents rebalancing in the art world
VENICE (AP) — A Nigerian art critic and museum director is the first African to curate the Biennale contemporary art fair that opens Saturday for its seven-month run, while female artists are representing more countries than ever in national pavilions — trends seen as an informal rebalancing in the art world.
There’s Joan Jonas for the United States, Fiona Hall for Australia, Irina Nakhova for Russia, Sarah Lucas for Great Britain, Chiharu Shiota for Japan, Pamela Rosenkranz for Switzerland and Camille Norment for Norway. And those women are all from the more established Biennale participants in the Giardini, around one-third of the 89 national pavilions.
The prominence of women in the national pavilions — which along with the main show curated by Okwui Enwezor comprise the 56th International Art Exhibition — may be coincidence. Still, the force of the female numbers is gaining notice as somehow tapping into a zeitgeist and challenging the notion of the art world as being male dominated.
“I think it is wonderful so many women are representing countries this year. I think it is great,” Jonas said, sitting outside the U.S. pavilion — where she had just been approached by a woman who thanked her for giving hope to female artists.
Jonas started her artistic career as a sculptor in the 1960s before moving into performance art and becoming an early adapter to video in the 1970s. She said that her participation in the Biennale would bring “a lot more attention to my work” — while adding that she always felt supported.
“I am an artist’s artist. From the very beginning, I had an audience. From the very beginning, I felt appreciated,” she said. “I couldn’t continue to work like this if I didn’t have the support of my fellow artists, and then many curators, over the years.”