Body Language

Body Language, first pavilion transgressive artist talk, 56th Biennale de Venezia 2015

An official event of 56th Biennale de Venezia on 8 may 2015 was the first ever cross-pavilion collaboration, artist talk

Date: 08.05 — 2–3 pm



Teatro Piccolo Arsenale


All The World’s Futures

The 56th Edition of La Biennale de Venezia is curated this year by Okwui Enwezor. His project ‘All The World´s Futures’ sets out to explore the relation of art with the state of affairs in the world today, and to explore this through what he has termed ‘its shadow histories’. On from May 9th this year running until November 22nd 2015. Eighty-nine National Participants will also showcase each of their chosen artists at the historical Pavilions at the Giardini, at the Arsenale, and also at various other locations throughout the city of Venice.

Okwui Enwezor released a compelling statement about the upcoming Biennale and the themes and questions that it hopes to address correlates to Walter Benjamin‘s Theses on the Philosophy of History, in which the philosopher discusses Paul Klee‘s Angelus Novelus, the “angel of history” who exists in a perpetual state of looking back at the wreckage of the past and is simultaneously propelled into the future by the ‘wind of progress’. With its 120-year history as one of the most renowned showcases for international artistic innovation, the Venice Biennale has adopted this image of the “angel of history”, inviting artists to use art a sort of “filter” through which to view the world, to explore the relationship between the social, political, and economic “state of things” and the corresponding “appearance of things” through art, media, and the public.

Body Language

An official event of La Biennale di Venezia 8 may 2015 was the first ever cross-pavilion collaboration at La Biennale di Venezia and took place between Joan Jonas, US-pavilion, Camille Norment, Nordic pavilion and Pamela Rosenkranz, Swiss pavilion.

In this discussion – the first of its kind at La Biennale di Venezia – three different generations of artists were to give a unique insight to their artistic practice and thought from the perspective of different periods, contexts and experiences. As announced their thoughts should bridge artistic synergies across pavilions within the Giardini, as well as cast their own light across wider issues explored in La Biennale de Venezia.

The body, to many artists even today are continue drawn, as they have been for centuries, by the power of the body (male or female) as a theme or as a muse to their work and crystallize around questions and debates as there are; beauty, power, mythology, story telling, the gaze and the human condition.
There can be no shadow without a body to cast it, and the voices of Jonas, Norment and Rosenkranz contribute to the entanglement of histories and shadows, as given by Walter Benjamin’s essay, and bring a contemporary urgency to these questions.

The work of artists Joan Jonas, Camille Norment and Pamela Rosenkranz contributes some of the most provocative thinking around the body in art and society today. Together they address one of the most vital artistic questions of our times -the changing place of our body in the world- and why artists continue to consider it as a recurring tool and motif.

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Jonas, Camille Norment and Pamela Rosenkranz are all deeply concerned with the human body in their work, and they also articulate distinct artistic standpoints that bring the strength of their perspectives as women to the fore. Joan Jonas reflects upon the position of the body, and often her own body, in relation to landscape, story-telling and mythology; Camille Norment considers sound as a powerful mediator of the body and a constructor of cultural identities; and Pamela Rosenkranz works with the body in relation to the technological advances of our world, which are literally dissolving its presence within it.

Joan Jonas (b.1936 NY, USA) 
A pioneer of video and performance art, and acclaimed multimedia artist, Jonas’s work typically spans video, performance, installation, sound, text and drawing. Since 1968 her practice has explored various ways of seeing, the rhythms of ritual, and the authority of objects and gestures.

The U.S. Pavilion features “They Come to Us Without a Word”, a series of multimedia works created by New York-based artist Joan Jonas. An influential female figure of the performance art movement of the 1960s, Jonas encompasses an array of media and themes in her artwork, including video, performance, installation, sound, text and drawing. She often takes inspiration from literature and They Come to Us Without a Word will explore notions of the spirituality of nature as found in Icelandic Nobel Prize winner Halldór Laxness‘s literary works.
A new performance by Joan Jonas, They Come to Us without a Word II, will take place on July 20, 21, and 22 at the Teatro Piccolo Arsenale in Venice, with new music by Jonas’s long-time sound collaborator, American jazz pianist and composer Jason Moran.

Camille Norment (b.1970 Silver Spring, Maryland, USA) 
Oslo based, Norment´s work spans performance, installation, drawing and sound. In particular, Norment performs and composes on the legendary the glass armonica. 18th-century instrument that creates ethereal music from glass and water. Invented by Benjamin Franklin and once played by Mozart and Marie Antoinette, can sound enchanting or excruciating, depending on the pitch and vibration of the glass. 
The glass armonica was at first celebrated for curing people with its entrancing music, but later it was banned, because it was thought to induce states of ecstasy and arouse sexual excitement in women. If it had the power to cure, so the logic went, this bewitching instrument might also have the power to kill through over-exciting its listeners.
Camille Norment creates sonic spaces that integrate social, musical and psychological elements to broaden perspectives on how sound is intricately connected with the body, how it marks our experience and affects our collective consciousness. Raising questions around alienation and emancipation, She reflects upon the power of dissonance to carve out a space for new, affirmative thinking.
Norment’s ‘Rapture’ is a site-specific, sculptural and sonic installation in the Nordic Pavilion, for which the American-born, Oslo-based artist has composed new music on the glass armonica – a legendary

Pamela Rosenkranz (b.1979 Uri, Switzerland) 
Rosenkranz’s work reflects on technological change and the associated transformations in contemporary philosophy, science, global economy and consumer behavior. She investigates the understanding of what it means to be human today, and of what is natural during the Anthropocene (the chronological term given the geological epoch that is defined in terms of the impact of human activity). Rosenkranz goes even further and considers how the image of our identity is shaped by natural forces, thereby contrasting it with how it has been religiously, culturally, and commercially constructed.
The Swiss pavilion is filled with a monochrome liquid whose colour has been rendered to match a standardized northern european skin-tone.
Curated by Susanne Pfeffer, ‘Our Product’ is composed of immaterial elements such as light, colour, scent, sound and organic components such as hormones and even bacteria. These are used to guide the viewer through the pavilion, and confront the historically, religiously, and commercially transmitted image of what it means to be human with its biological genesis. This colour is the reminiscent of the ‘carnate’ that was used throughout renaissance painting in order to project the visual qualities of human flesh; and which is now used in today’s advertising industry as a proven means of physically enhancing attention.

The eurocentric skin colour, which is derived from a broader natural history that involves migration, exposure to the sun and nutrition, is contrasted by a green coating that covers the mantle of the building. the external patio is illuminated by artificial green light burring the distinction between the indoors and outdoors; while a wall paint that is biologically attractive, further dissolves this separation between culture and nature.
Rosenkranz’s work is all encompassing, penetrating all parts of the Swiss pavilion’s architecture with sounds and smells. the synthetic sound of water, generated by a real time algorithm, reverberates throughout the atmosphere, while the scent of fresh baby skin emanates, invading all of our senses. the installation appropriates immemorial aesthetic reflexes that both art and commercial culture rely on, but renders them as cognitively disturbing.

The United States Pavilion is curated by Paul C. Ha and Ute Meta Bauer. Paul Ha is the Director of the MIT List Visual Arts Center and the Commissioner for the U.S. Pavilion. Ute Meta Bauer, is currently the Director of the NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore, Nanyang Technological University, and previously the Founding Director of the Program in Art, Culture, and Technology (ACT) at MIT. The Nordic Pavilion (this year solely commissioned by Norway) is curated by Katya García-Antón, the Director of Office for Contemporary Art Norway (OCA), with the collaboration of Antonio Cataldo, Senior Programmer OCA, Norway.
The Swiss Pavilion is curated by Susanne Pfeffer, Director of the Friedericianum Kassel, Germany.

Tim Marlow, he is Director of Artistic Programmes at the Royal Academy and is an award-wining radio and television broadcaster who has presented over 100 documentaries on British television. He has lectured, chaired and participated in panel discussions on art and culture in more than forty countries.

Nordic-pavilion Camille Norment Rapture 56th-Biennale de Venezia 2015
Swiss-Pavilion Pamela Rosenkranz Our-Product 56th Biennale de Venezia 2015