Armenia scoops Golden Lion at 56th Venice Biennale

Ahram Online , Saturday 9 May 2015

Armenia won best national pavilion at the international arts festival, while the US's Adrian Piper won best artist

On Saturday, its opening day, the jury of the 56th Venice Biennale announced the winners of the international art festival. Armenia was awarded the Golden Lion for best national participation while American Adrian Piper won the Golden Lion for best artist.

In an official statement, the jury wrote that the Armenian pavilion had won for its display “based on a people in diaspora, each artist engaging their specific locality as well as their heritage.

The pavilion took the form of a palimpsest, with contemporary positions inserted into a site of historic preservation. In a year that witnesses a significant milestone for the Armenian people, this pavilion marks the resilience of trans-cultural confluence and exchanges." The work was entitled Armenity/Haiyutioun.

The jury meanwhile described Piper as “a pioneering artist [who] has reformed conceptual practice to include personal subjectivity—of herself, her audience and the publics in general. Her presentations invite us to engage in a life-long performance of personal responsibility and calls out attention to ephemeral and transitional character of value systems."

Her installation was called The Probable Trust Registry: The Rules of the Game #1–3.

Other winners included El Anatsui of Ghana who received the Golden Lion for lifetime achievement and Susanne Ghez of the USA who won the Special Golden Lion for services to the arts.

The Silver Lion for promising young artist in the international exhibition went to Im Heung-Soon of South Korea for his work Factory Complex.

The jury said that Heung-Soon's video work "probes the nature of precarity in relation to the conditions of labour for women across Asia. Factory Complex takes the form of a documentary but with a direct, lightly mediated, encounter with his subjects and their working conditions.”

The jury also announced three Special Mentions for artists exhibiting at the international exhibition: Harun Farocki of Germany, the Abounaddara collective which is based in Syria, Giardino delle Vergini, and Massinissa Selmani of Algeria 1980.

The curator of the Biennale’s 56th International Art Exhibition, which is titled All The World’s Futures, is Nigerian curator and art critic Okwui Enwezor.

The award ceremony took place at Ca’ Giustinian.

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