Installation art at Venice Biennale 2011

So this is what is going down in Venice… The toast of the Biennale this year is the collaboration between Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla, whose work forms part of the US pavilion. The exhibition, entitled ‘Gloria’, creates paradoxical multimedia works on a giant scale using military, religious and economic references.

‘Body in Flight’ compares the freedom of travelling with the tension and anxiety of flying. The artists have taken a business class seat and re-contextualised it within the walls of the gallery. The freedom of the performance by the gymnasts completely contradicts the exhibition content.

‘Algorithm’ is a spectacular custom-made pipe organ with an ATM inside. Every time a person uses the machine, a unique musical soundtrack is played – an ordinarily everyday sound, which in this case makes the participant think about what they are doing.

‘Track and Field’ features a 60-ton military tank with a treadmill on the top, forcing the viewer to question the recreational exercise machine and the role that war plays in our everyday lives.

The South African pavilion, meanwhile, has been curated by Thembinkosi Goniwe and explores a broad medium between fantasy and reality. Entitled  ‘Desire: Ideal Narratives in Contemporary South African Art’, the artists work all depicts an imaginary truth or ideal narrative that reflects South Africa – both desired and detested.

Mary Sibande’s work, ‘Domestic Fantasy’, uses life-sized mannequins to depict the positives of a domestic worker, as well as showing the humanity and commonality between people in society, a narrative told through ‘Sophie’.

Siemon Allen looks at the influence that music had in the anti-apartheid fight, inspired by records released by Miriam Makeba. His artwork consists of over 400 South African records that emulate the same message against apartheid.

Finally, Lyndi Sales’ ‘The Satellite Telescope’ looks at alternative realities and perceptions, inspired by the telescope that was sent into space from Kenya in 1970.  You can see all of the pieces by Mary Sibande, Siemon Allen and Lyndi Sales at the Torre di Porta Nuova, Arsenale Nuovissimo in Venice.

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