A huge suspended sculpture made of furniture and a floor covered with dazzling lights are just two of the works Bill Culbert has created for the New Zealand Pavilion at the 2013 Venice Biennale, which opened last night.
Culbert’s exhibition, Front Door Out Back, features eight installations using fluorescent lights and recycled domestic objects to transform the historic Istituto Santa Maria della Pietà (La Pietà) building on the busy thoroughfare between San Marco and the Giardini.
Bill Culbert is a pioneer of the use of electric light in art and has been making works that harness its qualities since the 1960s. “The ultimate experience comes when you stand in the space to enjoy the dazzle and play of light and the journey,’’ he says of his Venice Biennale exhibition.
The Venice Biennale is the most prestigious contemporary visual arts exhibition in the world with more than 80 countries taking part. “Combining light and things with rare economy, Culbert produces art that is austere, poetic and challenging in the way it invites us to revalue familiar things and focus our perceptions,” says New Zealand’s Commissioner for the 2013 Venice Biennale, Jenny Harper.
“Step into Bill Culbert’s Front Door Out Back and you enter a living space of an unusual kind, a sculptural meditation, played out through eight connected spaces, on shelter, habitation and dwelling,” says exhibition curator, Justin Paton.
“On arrival the visitor is confronted with Bebop, a 15-metre-long work suspended from the ceiling of the historic corridor, where 34 second-hand tables and chairs seem to have been lifted and spun through the space, each one pierced by a single bolt of fluorescent light. In another key work, Daylight Flotsam Venice, Culbert feeds 150 fluorescent tubes into a densely packed field of recycled plastic bottles creating a carpet of colour, seen against the backdrop of the canal beyond.”
Creative New Zealand funds and leads New Zealand’s presence at the Venice Biennale. Creative New Zealand acknowledges the support of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu and Massey University in the realisation of the 2013 exhibition.
For more information and photos of New Zealand’s exhibition at 2013 Venice Biennale: www.nzatvenice.com