Beads to talk about decolonization. Canada's Pavilion at the Biennale

This year the Canada Pavilion for the Biennale is represented by Kapwani Kiwanga and a large female presence, using art as a tool for inclusion and equality through a large installation made of beads.

The Pavilion of Canada presents itself at the 60th International Art Exhibition of the Biennale with a large female presence, artists and curators with diverse cultural backgrounds but united in conveying important messages through their art. Indeed, art is a tool forinclusion and integration that fosters awareness of the themes ofwelcome andequality, values promoted by Canada, which has always considered cultural diversity as a great source of wealth and growth for the country. Kapwani Kiwanga, who participated in the Biennale back in 2022 and is representing Canada for the first time in Venice this year, is recognized among the most prolific and influential Canadian artists on the international contemporary art scene. With her project, an installation made of Murano beads, she invites audiences to reflect on colonialism, decolonization and gender issues. Her narrative is based on ignored or marginalized stories using tools such as sculpture, installation, video and performance.

Kiwanga’s Trinket project exhibited in the Central Pavilion at the Giardini in Venice is curated by Gaëtane Verna, executive director of the Wexner Center for the Arts, commissioned by the National Gallery of Canada and produced in collaboration with the Canada Council for the Arts. Canadian representation in 2024 is also made possible by the National Gallery of Canada Foundation and numerous Canadian sponsors and patrons. The Canadian artists invited to exhibit in the Central Pavilion at the Giardini and at theArsenale stand out for their eclectic and innovative styles, but above all for the depth of the messages they convey. Joyce Joumaa, a video artist living between Beirut and Montréal, investigates how structures of the past can affect the present. The work presented at the Gardens bears witness to discriminatory testing of immigrants. Erica Rutherford, a painter, was one of the openly transgender pop artists in the 1970s who chose Canada to begin her gender transition and live her new life as a woman until her death in 2008. In the other exhibition venues we find artists Ydessa Hendeles with Grand Hotel, an official collateral event of the 60th International Art Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia, set up at Palazzo Berlendis. In Grand Hotel, Ydessa Hendeles explores critical themes of cultural identity, displacement, intergenerational trauma and loss, a journey between past and present. Also held on April 20, during the first public day of Fondazione Querini Stampalia’s opening week, was A World of Many Worlds: a side event presented in collaboration with Asia Forum and co-organized by Canadian curator Ming Tiampo, director of the Institute for Comparative Studies in Literature, Art and Culture at Carleton University in Ottawa. Paul Ygartua, known for solo creation of monumental murals, including the world’s largest, and Jing Zhu, who depicts the contrast and interaction between Eastern and Western culture in his works, are featured at the European Cultural Center - Palazzo Mora in Venice. A strong call for peace comes to the Lagoon from the voice of writer Margaret Atwood and her poem created for Beati Pacifici: The Disasters of War and the Hope for International Peace, a selection of works by Canadian collector Bruce Bailey on the horrors of war, at the Church of San Samuele (through Sept. 29, 2024).

“Kapwani Kiwanga delves into the world’s archives and conducts in-depth research that is elegantly woven into her artworks. She is interested in the role of art as a catalyst to reveal and address alternative socio-political narratives, often silenced and marginalized, that are part of our shared history,” says curator Gaëtane Verna.

Notes on the artist

Kapwani Kiwanga born in Hamilton, Canada, is a Canadian-French artist living and working in Paris. In 2022, Kiwanga was awarded the Zurich Art Prize (CH). She was also the winner of the Marcel Duchamp Prize (FR) in 2020, the Frieze Artist Award (USA) in 2018, and the annual Sobey Art Award (CA) in 2018. He has had solo exhibitions at Copenhagen Contemporary (DN); Serralves Foundation, Porto (PT); Bozar, Brussels (BE); Remai Modern, Saskatoon (CA); Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg (DE); Capc, Bordeaux (FR); MOCA, Toronto (CA); Museum Haus Konstruktiv, Zurich (CH); New Museum, New York (USA); Moody Center for the Arts, Austin (USA); Haus der Kunst, Munich (DE); Kunsthaus Pasquart, Biel/Bienne (CH); MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge (USA); Albertinum Museum, Dresden (DE); Esker Foundation, Calgary (CA); Power Plant, Toronto (CA); Logan Center for the Arts, Chicago (USA); South London Gallery, London (UK); and Jeu de Paume, Paris (FR). Kiwanga is represented by Galerie Poggi, Paris; Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg, Cape Town, and London; and Galerie Tanja Wagner, Berlin.

Image: Kapwani Kiwanga, Transfer II (metal, wind, beads) and Transfer IV (metal, wood, wind, beads), 2024 © Kapwani Kiwanga / Adagp Paris / CARCC Ottawa 2024. Photo: Valentina Mori

Beads to talk about decolonization. Canada's Pavilion at the Biennale
Beads to talk about decolonization. Canada's Pavilion at the Biennale

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