After having participated twice in the International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia – the ones directed by Francesco Bonami in 2003 and by Massimiliano Gioni in 2013 – Enrico David (Ancona, 1966) is representing Italy for the first time this year. His artistic practice has strong ties with memory and the past, both in content and in form. Through his works David presents personal and collective memories, expressing a vast range of emotional states and reviving traditional techniques. His work reﬂects a cultural background that is Italian both in its aesthetic and its historico-artistic references and in the choice of certain materials typical of the handicrafts. Yet his imagery is rich in suggestions matured over the course of the years, commencing with his training, which took place chiefly in London, where he still lives today. The human figure is one of David’s recurrent themes, which he elaborates and represents as a testimony of continual transformations, through a variety of means of expression including sculpture, painting, drawing, the weaving of tapestries and installation. His asexual anthropomorphic figures and his configurations arise from intuitions and evolve in a process of inclusive synthesis that oversteps personal boundaries and becomes a recognizable trace that can be shared collectively. The images that people Enrico’s world of sculpture and painting are resigned, dishevelled, contorted, grotesque, hobbling, at times monstrous and armed with instruments we find incomprehensible. Sometimes they split in two and repeat themselves, forming labyrinths of content and form.
While including a number of works from the past, which will be revisited and updated for Venice, the selection of works on show is made up largely of new productions. From life-size anthropomorphic ﬁgures in bronze to small objects and paintings, all these works have been conceived by David speciﬁcally for the exhibition. David has also responded directly, with a sculpture, to an intervention of Chiara Fumai’s.
Biography: Ancona, 1966. He lives and works in London. Nominated for the Turner Prize in 2009.
He has shown in important solo and group exhibitions at the MCA Chicago (2018); Blum & Poe, Los Angeles (2018); Michael Werner Gallery, London (2017); Sharjah Art Foundation, United Arab Emirates (2016); Collezione Maramotti, Reggio Emilia (2015); Hepworth Wakeﬁeld, West Yorkshire (2015); CLA Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2013); Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa, Venice (2011); Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Basel (2009); Seattle Art Museum, Seattle (2008); and ICA London, London (2007).
Dying at the age of just 39 in August 2017, Chiara Fumai was an important artist, admired both in Italy and abroad for her dedicated reinterpretation in a feminist key of a Western historical canon that has always been rooted in the values of patriarchal domination. Although brought to a premature end, her career has had a profound influence on later generations, evident above all in recent years with a reignited and widespread interest in magical practices and profane cults in relation to the feminist discourse. With her work, Fumai carried out a rigorous inquiry, in personal, passionate and not academic tones, focused on real and fictitious historical events and figures representative of the marginalization experienced by women over the centuries in various situations and contexts, from culture to religion and politics. Her research, which was not just critical but also, always, profoundly constructive, was made relevant to the present chiefly through performative works, often in the format of lessons, staged by the artist herself. Through her collages, environments and impersonations, Fumai brought back to light and gave a voice again to ﬁgures of opposition to the dominant culture, such as the feminists Carla Lonzi and Valerie Solanas, the medium Eusapia Palladino, the dogaressa Elisabetta Querini Valier and still other women, often forgotten, marginalized or vilified like the Circassian Zalumma Agra. The use of the word – written, spoken, embroidered, sometimes coded in magic sigils – was key for Fumai: from the threat to the apology, from the augury to the magic spell, the symbolic and representative value of the word became an essential instrument for the announcement, emancipation and practical realization of an alternative modus operandi to patriarchal oppression.
In the Italian Pavilion, a new production of Fumai’s will be presented for the very first time. This work, never seen before, will be accompanied by works from the past selected with the invaluable assistance of The Church of Chiara Fumai, an organization of which I was one of the founders, headed by Chiara’s mother, Liliana Fumai, and directed by Francesco Urbano Ragazzi.
Biography: Rome, 1978 – Bari, 2017. She took part in dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel (2012).
She showed in important solo and joint exhibitions at the Museion, Bolzano (2015); Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham (2014), Whitechapel Gallery, London (2014); De Appel Arts Centre, Amsterdam (2014); Fondazione Querini Stampalia, Venice (2013); MUSAC (Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León), León (2013); MACRO Testaccio, Rome (2011); Careof – DOCVA, Milan (2008).
Winner of the Premio Furla in 2013 and the New York Prize of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry for the Cultural Heritage and Activities in 2017.
Invited to take part in the ninth staging of Documenta in 1992, Liliana Moro proposed installing a Fiat Cinquecento that, with its engine running constantly, would try in vain to tow with a cable the heavy structure of the Fridericianum – venue of the exhibition at which works by the main exponents of Arte Povera were shown. Although not realized, the project lives on in the form of a collage and remains representative of this artist’s approach to the past: Liliana Moro’s work picks up history and takes it forwards. An operation that, according to the artist herself, relies precisely on that stylistic ‘subtraction of weight’ celebrated by Calvino in the first of his Six Memos for the Next Millennium, ‘Lightness’ (1985). Working with different materials and on different scales, Liliana Moro has a propensity for essentiality. Not to be confused with a minimal style, her clean and precise approach leads to the creation of apparently simple gestures which, for that very reason, are open to a multitude of different interpretations. Poetic but not romantic, Moro brings contents and objects of everyday use into play, not so much to illustrate them as to reappraise their original function and invite us to go beyond what is visible. An important thread running through her research is the use of space in its formal, conceptual and semantic aspects: for example through interventions in public space, or with an alteration of the relative scales of objects, in order to arrive at the spatiality intrinsic to many of her works, which often establish mechanisms of relationship with the viewer in which an action, such as bending down or climbing up, becomes implicitly necessary to the experience.
For the Italian Pavilion a number of her past works will be presented alongside new productions, including not just new commissions but also existing works that have never been shown before, accumulated by the artist in her studio over the years. This collection brings together the fundamental moments in the artist’s research and her development, revealing the visceral coherence of the journey she has been making over a long period of time.
Biography: Milan, 1961. She lives and works in Milan. She took part in documenta IX, Kassel (1992) and Aperto – 45th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia.
In 1989 she founded, along with other artists, the Spazio di Via Lazzaro Palazzi in Milan. She has shown in important solo and joint exhibitions at the Triennale, Milan (2015); MAMbo Bologna (2013); Fondazione Antonio Ratti, Como (2012); MART, Rovereto (2012); Italics, Palazzo Grassi, Venice (2008); Italian Institute of Culture, Los Angeles (2007); De Appel Amsterdam (1999); PS1, New York (1999); Moderna Museet, Stockholm (1998); MUHKA, Antwerp (1996); Castello di Rivoli, Turin (1994).