Lionel Bovier and Christian Marclay, commissioned by Institut Français
The French pavilion will certainly be an outsider at the 2017 Art Biennale. Whereas most exhibitions are focused on the visual aspect of art, Xavier Veilhan will transform the pavilion into a recording studio where the audition plays a major role.
When you enter the pavilion as a visitor, you will feel like an intruder trespassing into an area where musicians are experimenting and recording their latest music. You won’t be attending a concert, but really be part of the creation of a musical piece of art. Numerous instruments will be integrated into the space to enable musicians from different horizons and genres (from classical to electronic and from new music compositions to folkloric styles) to work on site. The studio will not only host the musicians, but also the sound technicians, programmers and producers. More than 100 professional musicians from different countries will use the studio in the Giardini to experiment and record some of their work, either on their own or in collaboration with other musicians.
Most of the names of the musicians will be communicated upfront, but the team will only unveil part of the schedule. You might therefore be lucky and encounter a very lively session, or you could enter the pavilion when no one is playing. The setting itself is however worth a visit on itself, even without the artists. I suggest that you visit the French pavilion in the beginning of your tour of Giardini, so you can return at a later time if you found the place empty. Each visit to this constantly evolving pavilion will be a unique experience, as no day or hour will be the same. It will depend on the musicians, and their inspiration of that moment.
If you cannot make it to Venice, or you want to keep up-to-date with the pavilion’s artistic and musical activity, there will be an app which allows you to follow what is going on in the French pavilion. After the Art Biennale 2017 in Venice, the exhibition will become Studio Buenos Aires then Studio Lisboa. The project will be presented in June 2018 at the CCK in Buenos Aires, then in the autumn at the MAAT, the Lisbon’s brand new museum of art, architecture and technology.
A visit to the French pavilion will certainly be something totally different, which you will never forget. I certainly look forward to discover it. It was one of the 9 national participations which immediately caught my attention, as you can read in ‘What to expect from the Art Biennale 2017’.
Xavier Veilhan, born in 1963 and currently living and working in Paris, studied successively at the École Nationale Supérieure des Art Décoratifs in Paris, the Hochschule der Künste (Art University) in Berlin and the Centre Pompidou’s Institut des Hautes Etudes en Arts Plastiques. He has a long-standing interest in the often-evolving exhibition space in which the visitor becomes an actor. He nourishes his material research with regular musical collaborations with artists like the band Air, musician Sébastien Tellier or pioneer composer Eliane Radigue.
In 2009, he set up the exhibition Veilhan Versailles in the Palace and gardens of Versailles. Between 2012 and 2014, he developed Architectones, a series of interventions in seven major modernist buildings around the world. His interest for architecture was taken to a new level in 2014 when he designed the château de Rentilly. In 2015 he directed two films that extend these spatial explorations: Vent Moderne (La Villette, Paris) and Matching Numbers (3e Scene, Opéra national de Paris). Xavier Veilhan also installed sculptures in various cities in France – Bordeaux (Le Lion, 2004), Tours (Le Monstre, 2004), Lyon (Les Habitants, 2006) – as well as abroad – New York (Jean-Marc, 2012), Shanghai (Alice, 2013), Séoul (The Skater, 2015).
“I imagine an overall environment: an immersive installation that propels visitors to the world of the recording studio and that is inspired by the pioneering work of Kurt Schwitters, the Merzbau (1923-1937). Musicians from all backgrounds are invited to bring this recording studio-sculpture to life, as it becomes home to their creations during the seven months of the Biennale. The pavilion merges visual arts and music, with a nod not only to Bauhaus and the experiments of Black Mountain College but also Doug Aitken’s Station to Station.”
The French pavilion in Giardini was built in 1912, designed by the Venetian engineer Faust Finzi and constructed by the Biennale. It was inaugurated with a personal exhibition of Rodin’s work. The immersive installation of Xavier Veilhan will blur the architectural lines initially drawn up for the French pavilion. The floors, walls and ceilings will collide to form a landscape of wood and fabrics that reveals a fully operational recording studio.
Viva Arte Viva
Xavier Veilhan will participate in the ‘Tavola Aperta’ (Open Table) project where artists and visitors will have a casual lunch together to discuss the artist’s work. You can attend this lunch on June 14, next to the central pavilion in Giardini. Reservations are required.
France is very well represented at the Art Biennale 2017 with the main curator Christine Macel (°Paris – 1969). Following her studies in art history, she was a curator of the heritage and inspector of artistic creation for the ‘Délégation aux Arts Plastiques’ of the French Ministry of Culture (from 1995). Since 2000 she has been Chief Curator at the Musée national d’art moderne – Centre Pompidou in Paris, where she is responsible for the Department of ‘Création contemporaine et prospective’, which she founded and developed.
France will also be represented at the ‘Viva Arte Viva exhibition’ of Christine Macel by 7 artists: Kader Attia, Marcos Ávila Forero, Pauline Curnier Jardin, Raymond Hains, Franck Leibovici, Dorothée Selz and Marie Voignier.
Kader Attia grew up in both Algeria and the suburbs of Paris. He uses this experience of living as a part of two cultures as a starting point to develop a dynamic practice that reflects on aesthetics and ethics of different cultures. He alternately adopts the role of artist, historian, anthropologist, philosopher and ethnographer. Watch his video for the Artist’s Practice project.
A key characteristic of French-Colombian artist Marcos Ávila Forero‘s practice is an ethnographic engagement with political subjects and contexts. Watch his video for the Artist’s Practice project.
Pauline Curnier Jardin crafts fictional adventures through drawing, performance, music, installation and film. Through lighting, color, texture, costume, soundtrack, and props, she creates transgressive, funny, and highly stylized visual settings that are closely linked to theatre. Watch her video for the Artist’s Practice project.
Raymond Hains was a founder of the Nouveau Réalisme movement in the early 1960s. Anything but a realist in the conventional sense, he was an affichiste, creating vibrant, provocative collages from layers of torn posters. Watch the video on his work for the Artist’s Practice project.
Franck Leibovici is an artist and poet, well know across the world, who works on the ecology of art and artistical practices. Watch his video for the Artist’s Practice project.
Dorothée Selz is a sculptor and a painter. She creates edible, ephemeral sculptures, which people can really eat. She also paints using popular images as a starting point. The idea is to bring new life to pictures considered ‘commonplace’. Through the use of very graphic and dynamic paintings, she draw attention to the humor, the unusual or the absurd of a poetic imagery bound to be forgotten.
Marie Voignier is a video movie director. She directed Le Bruit du Canon (Prix du Court métrage – Cinéma du Réel, Paris, 2007), Hinterland (Prix des médiathèques FID Marseille, 2009) and Hearing the shape of a drum (Berlin Biennale 2010). Watch her video for the Artist’s Practice project.
Finally, on the Murano island, the French project ‘The Unplayed Notes Factory’ will be hosted at the Campollieto della Pescheria glass furnace. Despite being shut down for the last 60 years, a strange atmosphere still prevails in this building which seems haunted by the memory of those who once occupied the place. Loris Gréaud will secretly revive the former glass furnace. It’s certainly worth a trip with the vaporetto to Murano.
Review by The Venice Insider
Xavier Veilhan developed one of the most original concepts I ever saw on the Art Biennale. The French pavilion changes daily as different musicians use the studio to practice and record. This fits perfectly in the Viva Arte Viva theme which puts artists and how they create art at the forefront of the 2017 Art Biennale. The studio is beautifully designed with lots of wood and with many instruments standing around waiting to be played. You can also see the actual recording studio behind glass.
The experience is a very important element here, but you need to be lucky to see musicians at work. I went twice to the pavilion, on different days, but haven’t been able to listen to live music. A timing of the sessions would therefore add value for the visitors, so they can plan their day at Giardini accordingly. Despite this, I love the concept and the set-up and I will certainly try my luck again on my next visit. The French pavilion is one of my favourites and is therefore one of the 8 pavilions you cannot miss at the Art Biennale 2017.
Katia – The Venice Insider
If you want to know more about the Art Biennale 2017 and the other national participations, this overview page is a good starting point. If you want to be informed about new pavilions being added to the site, you can subscribe to The Venice Insider biweekly newsletter.
(Picture in banner: Studio Venezia – Model (detail) – © Veilhan / ADAGP, Paris, 2017)
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