The Australia Council for the Arts, Australia’s principal arts funding and advisory body, announces Fiona Hall AO as the representative for Australia at La Biennale di Venezia 56th International Art Exhibition. The renowned artist, whose work encompasses a range of mediums from sculpture to video art, will create a multisensory experience of sights and sounds. Her installation also marks the debut of a new Australian Pavilion. Designed by leading Australian architecture firm Denton Corker Marshall, the pavilion—the first 21st-century pavilion to be built in the historic Giardini—will usher in a new phase for the representation of Australian art and architecture on the international stage.
The inaugural exhibition of the new Australian Pavilion, curated by Linda Michael, will be an immersive installation that confronts global political, financial, and environmental events and issues. In the artist’s words, the exhibition will be “a minefield of madness, badness, and sadness in equal measure.” Hall’s drawings, texts, and painted and sculpted forms overlay an archaeological array of remnants of contemporary life, creating a veritable museum of impulses, anomalies, and disorders. Our human impulse to make connections will be set into overdrive by the juxtapositions within, of highly charged, emotive objects and images that alert us to evolving realities and also evoke the paranoia of uncertain times.
“When selecting an artist to represent the nation, we found that Hall’s ideas and work stood out for their unique aesthetics and sensibility and their examination of universal themes of today that transcend borders, particularly environmental degradation and globalization,” said Simon Mordant AM, Commissioner for the Australian exhibition at La Biennale di Venezia 56th International Art Exhibition. “Next year, we look forward to seeing her installation in dialogue with Denton Corker Marshall’s visionary design of Australia’s new pavilion, and welcoming visitors from around the globe to join us in experiencing Hall’s provocative and challenging work.”
The new Australian Pavilion is the only building to be constructed in the Giardini in two decades. Denton Corker Marshall’s design is emblematic of Australia’s approach to contemporary architecture. The pavilion is a bold and simple architectural statement: a white box within a black box. The exterior—clad with black granite—functions as an envelope. Comprised of operable panels, the pavilion can appear as a solid block or a multi-form structure. When the panels are opened, natural light will stream into the gallery. Inside, an elastic and versatile white gallery space will allow the building to meet the needs of any exhibition design or function.
The two-level concrete and steel structure (329.7 square meters) is positioned in dialogue with the surrounding environment alongside the Rio dei Giardini canal. It is the only water-fronting Pavilion in the Giardini. Visitors will enter the building via a steel ramp that leads to a floating terrace overlooking the water. The rectangular, almost square exhibition gallery (240.5 square meters) features polished concrete floors, five-meter high plasterboard-over-plywood walls, and an acoustic plasterboard ceiling.
“The former temporary pavilion, designed by Philip Cox, has served Australia successfully over the past 25 years and was an important statement of Australia, both artistically and architecturally, in the last quarter of the 20th century,” said Elaine Chia, Director, Venice, Australia Council for the Arts. “As the primary overseer of Australia’s presentations at the Venice Biennale for the past three decades, the Australia Council looks forward to offering a new addition to the Giardini that will be an inspirational and limitless place for art and which celebrates the extraordinary contributions of Australia’s preeminent contemporary artists.”