best of the 2011 biennale – iraqi pavilion wounded water

18 November 2011 § Leave a comment

Back from the 54th Venice biennale, but with only a couple of weeks until it closes on the 27 November it is superfluous to try to write any sort of comprehensive reviews. So – for what it’s worth – in the next few blogs I will attempt to pick out some highlights and places of interest that may have some future relevance.

Amongst the collateral events which take place alongside the official biennale of the Giardini and Arsenale are literally dozens of assorted National, gallery and artist pavilions. House in a variety palaces, attics or semi-derelict houses they are a fascinating addition to the, relatively, big name and big money offerings of the main event. It is very much a hit and miss affair but there are always gems which appear amongst the largely uninspiring exhibits from the likes of Central Asia, Andorra and Iran.

This years outstanding ‘Collateral’ (the biennale’s word, not mine) pavilion was for me the Iraqi Wounded Water (Acqua Ferita) exhibition. Tucked away in a side road behind the Arsenale it occupies a small run-down canal-side property. Six artists have combined to produce a consistently high quality of work. All have drawn strongly upon the recent sad history of the country to produce powerful and meaningful work.

Ahmed Alsoudani is the biggest name. His recent successful exhibition at Haunch of Venison cementing his reputation. Untitled  2011 with a tortured and broken figure above a similarly tortured Arabic motif is the stand-out work here.

Others include Adel Adibin with a clever video of two suited businessman fighting with fluorescent tube light-sabres. Walid Siti rips a hole in a giant copy of an Iraqi banknote to bring to life the featured beauty spot – now tainted. Ali Asaf creates his own version of the Narcissus myth Narciso – he observes not the reflection of himself but detritus of the city as it drifts beneath his gaze.

Azid Nanakeli and Halim al Karim also feature. All deserve a bright and successful future after this excellent collaboration.

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