51st Venice Biennale, Virgin Garden Emersion
The Chinese Ministry of Culture and La Biennale di Venezia proudly announce the first official China pavilion in the Biennale di Venezias 110-year history at the upcoming 51st Biennale. With the tremendous support of Biennale president, Davide Croff, the Ministry will build a temporary China pavilion for 2005, with the intention of dedicating a permanent facility for Chinas future art and architecture exhibitions by 2007. Under the leadership of Chinas Ministry of Culture, Commissioners for the 2005 China pavilion include Xu Jiang, President, China Academy of Art; Fan Dian, Vice President, Central Academy of Art; Artist Cai Guo-Qiang; Wang Mingxian, Vice Director, Architecture Institute of China, and Pi Li, Central Academy of Art. Exhibition coordinators are Jennifer Ma, Chief Coordinator, and Agnes Kohlmeyer, Venice Coordinator. Organized and sponsored by the Chinese government, the premier China pavilion marks a turning point in political, economic and cultural growth within Chinese contemporary art, and underscores the increasing influence of Chinese creative practitioners on the international artistic and architectural community.
More importantly, Chinas national, long-term participation in the Biennale is a momentous shift from the international exhibitions historically western-centric constitution. La Biennale di Venezia has exhibited and honored the works of numerous renowned Chinese artists over the past ten years, notably, with the late Harald Szeemanns 1999 exhibition, APERTO Over All, in which nearly twenty Chinese artists participated. These artists not only paved the way for the Wests understanding of contemporary Chinese artistic practice, but also served as catalysts for Chinas long-term presence in the international field of contemporary art starting with the countrys presence at this years 51st Biennale. Commissioner Fan Dian remarked, The premier pavilion will be a vehicle through which to explore or re-locate the influence of Chinas political, economic and cultural establishment on the international contemporary art community. Secondly, the pavilion will present to the world a different face of Chinese contemporary art, addressing and ultimately modifying prevailing stereotypes. Finally, the pavilion will shift the direction of La Biennale di Venezia itself. Chinas new pavilion is an opportunity to contemplate what it means to build a national pavilion now, said 2005 curator, Cai Guo-Qiang.
The Chinese pavilion should not be another national symbol of power and style, rather it should respond to its time and space, and serve as a new model for national pavilions of the 21st century. The Exhibition Virgin Garden: Emersion and exhibiting artists will explore notions of spirituality and essence, while recognizing the inherent challenges in articulating such intangible life forces with visual art, by employing elements of Chinese philosophy and culture to frame the dialogue. The inaugural China pavilion will consist of two spaces, adjacent interior and exterior venues. The interior, a former naval oil storage facility, will be in the Arsenale complex near the ferry shuttle dock and will feature a video installation by Xu Zhen and a light installation by Liu Wei. The outdoor, adjacent site, Vergini Garden, is connected to the enclosed gallery by a doorway and will be bridged to the interior by architect Yung Ho Changs open bamboo canopy. The skeletal shelter will be fabricated by traditional Chinese bamboo artisans and designed as a refuge for visitors after extended Arsenale viewing. Also in the courtyard will be artist team Sun Yuan and Peng Yus sculptural installation and a fengshui project for Venice by Wang Qiheng. As some artist projects are still in development, installation details are subject to change.