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La Biennale di Venezia

Awards of the 58th International Art Exhibition 

La Biennale di Venezia, hosted the awards ceremony of  the 58th International Art  Exhibition at Ca’ Giustinian, a Late gothic historical building as well as the head office of La Biennale di Venezia.

The Jury, consisting of curators and practitioners from around the globe, distributed 3 Awards and 3 special mentions.

The Golden Lion for Best National Participation was awarded to Lithuania. The jury was impressed with the inventive use of the venue to present a Brechtian opera as well as the Lithuanian Pavilion’s engagement with the city of Venice and its inhabitants. “Sun & Sea (Marina)” is a critique of leisure and of our times as sung by a cast of performers and volunteers portraying everyday people.

Special mention in National Participation went to Belgium. Unsparing in its humour, the Belgian Pavilion offered an alternative view of the under-recognised aspects of social relations across Europe. The uncanny staging of a series of fictional characters in the form of mechanised puppets based on folkloric stereotypes allow the Pavilion to act on several registers, while creating two if not more parallel realities.

The Golden Lion for Best Participant in the International ExhibitionMay You Live In Interesting Times” was awarded to  Arthur Jafa for his film The White Album (2019), which, in equal parts essay, poem and portraiture. Jafa reflects on the issue of race using appropriated and original footage. Just as the film critiques a moment fraught with violence, in tenderly portraying the artist’s friends and family, it also speaks to our capacity for love.

The Silver Lion for a Promising Young Participant in the International Exhibition was awarded to Haris Epaminonda for her carefully constructed constellations of images, objects, text, forms, and colours built out of fragmented memories, histories and imagined connections. Epaminonda’s work showcased how the personal and the historical are linked in a web of multiple meanings.

This year, there are two Special Mentions were awarded to Teresa Margolles and Otobong Nkanga. Teresa Margolles for her sharp and poignant works that deal with the plight of women grossly affected by the narcotics trade in Mexico, and for creating powerful testimonies by shifting existing structures from the real world into the Exhibition halls. The jury felt Otobong Nkanga deserved a mention for her ongoing and inspired exploration across media into the politics of land, body and time.

 The Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement was awarded to Jimmie Durham. An American sculptor, essayist and poet, living and working in Europe since 1994. Curator Ralph Rugoff commended Durham “for making art that is at once critical, humorous and profoundly humanistic.”

The Exhibition opened to the public on May 11th 2019 and is open till 24th November 2019.

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