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New Zealand’s venue announced for 2017 Venice Biennale

21 Mar 2016

This content is tagged as Visual arts .


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Tesa dell'Isolotto, Arsenale, Venice

An historic naval warehouse in the heart of the Arsenale exhibition district will be the venue for Lisa Reihana’s media-based exhibition at the Venice Art Biennale in 2017.

The New Zealand pavilion will be housed in the Tesa dell'Isolotto, one of the oldest buildings in the Arsenale, among many permanent national pavilions and part of the Biennale’s curated exhibition.

The venue was announced by the Hon Maggie Barry, Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, at a patrons’ campaign launch in Auckland tonight. 

Commissioner Alastair Carruthers says selecting a venue early was crucial as few spaces are suitable for the artist’s large-scale audiovisual immersive project. He says, “Tesa dell'Isolotto’s location in a shipyard offers new possibilities for Reihana’s exhibition as she develops it for the Venice environment.” 

“We are very fortunate to have found space in the Arsenale, where hundreds of thousands of visitors come to experience the best contemporary art from around the globe. This will be the first time the New Zealand pavilion is within the Biennale’s official exhibition area.”

He says, “The Arsenale is the magnificent historic shipyard of Venice, a naval basin that still operates and a place where ocean ready sailing vessels were built – at a rate of one per day.”

Emissaries will be the exhibition title of Reihana’s 2017 Venice Biennale presentation, which will include her panoramic video in Pursuit of Venus [infected], expanded and augmented with a series of new photographic works.

Reihana says, “Isolotta means ‘island’ and I’m very interested in the relevance of that, and of the location’s history as I develop this exhibition. Transported half a world away we will be new emissaries to Venice.”

Arts Council Chairman Dr Dick Grant says the Venice Biennale is widely recognised as the world’s pre-eminent contemporary art exhibition.

He says, “It provides a huge opportunity for international exposure for New Zealand art and artists – and presents New Zealand as an assured country confidently taking its place on the world cultural stage. Each year, as we build on the success of previous exhibitions, our presence becomes more anticipated.”

Notes to editors:

New Zealand at the Venice Biennale

New Zealand’s arts development agency, Creative New Zealand, funds and manages New Zealand’s presence at the Venice Art Biennale for the almost seven month duration. 

Creative New Zealand is pleased to again be working with Te Papa as our Key Partner and for the first time with Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki as our Presenting Partner.

The New Zealand at Venice patrons generously contribute around a third of the budget for New Zealand’s project at the Venice Art Biennale.

The Venice Art Biennale is widely recognised as the pre-eminent international art exhibition in the world. In 2015 almost 90 countries had a presence – and the Biennale attracted more than 8,000 accredited journalists and 500,000 visitors. 

An official presence there provides a career development opportunity at the highest level for New Zealand contemporary visual artists. It brings the New Zealand pavilion to the attention of global media, art institutions, experts and gallerists and offers professional development opportunities for the curators, exhibition attendants and team members including the technical, design and artistic contributors to the project.

New Zealand has exhibited at the Venice Art Biennale since 2001. New Zealand artists who have exhibited are: Peter Robinson and Jacqueline Fraser (2001); Michael Stevenson (2003) et al. (2005); Judy Millar and Francis Upritchard (2009); Michael Parekowhai (2011); Bill Culbert (2013) and Simon Denny (2015).

Lisa Reihana, artist

Lisa Reihana (b 1964) completed a Masters in Design from the School of Visual Art and Design, Unitec in Auckland in 2014 and graduated with a Bachelor in Fine Arts from Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland in 1987.Of Ngāpuhi and Ngāti Hine, Ngāi Tū descent, she lives and works in Auckland.

Reihana’s work has featured in significant international exhibitions including the Museum van Loon, the Amsterdam Film + Media Arts Festival, the Samstag Museum in Toronto, the Campbelltown Arts Centre, the Havana Biennale, the Brooklyn Museum, the Liverpool Biennale, the Asia Society Museum in New York, the Noumea Biennale, the 12th Biennale of Sydney, and the Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Brisbane.

Reihana was made an Arts Laureate by the New Zealand Arts Foundation in 2014. She was shortlisted for the Signature Art Prize at the Singapore Art Museum in 2014 for in Pursuit of Venus; as well as the Double Take Anne Landa Award, Art Gallery of New South Wales in 2009 and the Walters Prize at the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki in 2008, both for Digital Marae. She has recently been shortlisted for the 2016 Walters Prize for in Pursuit of Venus [infected].

Rhana Devenport, curator

Rhana Devenport is director of Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki. She was director of Govett-Brewster Art Gallery (2006-2013) and held senior positions with the Biennale of Sydney (2005-2006), Artspace NZ (2005) and the Sydney Festival (2004) and was Senior Project Officer for the Asia Pacific Triennial with the Queensland Art Gallery (1994-2004). Her curatorial and publishing projects include projects with Peter Robinson, Fiona Pardington, Judith Wright, Nalini Malani, NS Harsha, Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan, Song Dong, Yin Xiuzhen, Zhang Peili, Lee Mingwei and Lisa Reihana.

For further information, go to www.nzatvenice.com or www.labiennale.org 

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For media or image enquiries contact: Sarah Pomeroy, sarah.pomeroy@creativenz.govt.nz