The Jury of the 58th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, comprising Stephanie Rosenthal (President of the Jury, Germany), Defne Ayas (Turkey/Netherlands), Cristiana Collu (Italy), Sunjung Kim (Korea), and Hamza Walker (USA), has decided to present the following awards:
Golden Lion for Best National Participation: LITHUANIA – Sun & Sea (Marina)
Lina Lapelyte, Vaiva Grainyte and Rugile Barzdziukaite
Commissioner: Rasa Antanavičıūte. Curator: Lucia Pietroiusti.
Venue: Magazzino No. 42, Marina Militare, Arsenale di Venezia, Fondamenta Case Nuove 2738c
Golden Lion for Best National Participation was given to Lithuania for the experimental spirit of the Pavilion and its unexpected treatment of national representation. The jury was impressed with the inventive use of the venue to present a Brechtian opera as well as the 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.
Sun & Sea (Marina). Opera-performance for 13 voices.
Imagine a beach – you within this image, or better: watching from above – the burning sun, sunscreen, and bright bathing suits and sweaty palms and legs. Tired limbs sprawled lazily across a mosaic of towels. Imagine the occasional squeal of children, laughter, the sound of an ice cream van in the distance. The musical rhythm of waves on the surf, a soothing sound (on this particular beach, not elsewhere).
The crinkling of plastic bags whirling in the air, their silent floating, jellyfish-like, below the waterline. The rumble of a volcano, or of an airplane, or a speedboat. Then a chorus of songs: everyday songs, songs of worry and of boredom, songs of almost nothing. And below them: the slow creaking of an exhausted Earth, a gasp.
A special mention has been awarded to the following National Participation: BELGIUM – Mondo Cane
Jos de Gruyter & Harald Thys
Commissioner: Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles.
Curator: Anne-Claire Schmitz.
According to the jury 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.
Golden Lion for the Best Participant to: Arthur Jafa (b. 1960 USA, lives and works in Los Angeles)
Golden Lion for the Best Participant in the International Exhibition May You Live In Interesting Times was given to Arthur Jafa for his 2019 film The White Album (venue: Central Pavilion, Giardini), which, in equal measure, is an essay, a poem and portraiture. Jafa uses appropriated and original footage to reflect upon the issue of race. 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.
Silver Lion for a Promising Young Participant to: Haris Epaminonda (b. 1980 Republic of Cyprus, lives and works in Berlin)
Silver Lion for a Promising Young Participant in the International Exhibition May You Live In Interesting Times was given to Haris Epaminonda for her carefully constructed constellations of images, objects, text, forms, and colours that are built out of fragmented memories, histories and imagined connections; for showing us that the personal and the historical can be compressed into a powerful yet loose web of multiple meanings.
The Jury has decided to award two special mentions to the following participants:
Teresa Margolles (b. 1963 Mexico, lives and works in Mexico City and Madrid) for her sharp and poignant works that deal with the plight of women grossly affected by the narcotics trade in her native Mexico, and for creating powerful testimonies by shifting existing structures from the real world into the Exhibition halls.
Otobong Nkanga (b. 1974 Nigeria, lives and works in Antwerp) for her ongoing and inspired exploration across media into the politics of land, body and time.
Upon recommendation of the Curator of the 58th Exhibition Ralph Rugoff, the board of La Biennale di Venezia, chaired by Paolo Baratta, also awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement to Jimmie Durham (USA).