The Spanish pavilion at the Venice Biennale is one of the first buildings the visitor encounters when entering the Giardini, the site that houses the general exhibition and the 79 national proposals included in the 59th edition to be held between April 23 and November 27. The construction, signed by Javier Luque and then intervened by Joaquín Vaquero, was inaugurated in 1922. Over a century, the work of a thousand artists has paraded through its walls, with whom the recent history of contemporary art can be summed up Spanish. What has not been seen in the pavilion until now is the total intervention of the building, a groundbreaking architectural proposal entitled Correction Made by the artist Ignasi Aballí with the complicity of the curator Bea Espejo. The project was presented this Thursday in the renovated auditorium of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation.
José Andrés Torres, president of Cultural Action, and Guzmán Palacios Fernández, director of Cultural and Scientific Relations of the AECID, wanted to emphasize the importance of art for coexistence. With regard to the intervention of the president of Ukraine in the Spanish parliament, they recalled that the mural Guernica It was presented by Pablo Picasso at the 1937 Paris International Exhibition.
Torres has celebrated that the edition that is now inaugurated has a large representation of Spanish artists in the central exhibition entitled the milk of dreamsin which there is work by two hundred artists from 58 countries. The selection confronts contemporary works with new projects conceived specifically for the Art Biennale. Among the works selected by deceased artists are Maruja Mallo (1902-1995) and Remedios Varo (1908-1963), the cartoonist Josefa Tolrá (1880-1959) and the British born in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria Georgiana Houghton (1814-1884 ). The chosen young women are Teresa Solar (Madrid, 36 years old) and June Crespo (Pamplona, 40 years old).
Ignasi Aballí (Barcelona, 64 years old) explained in the presentation that he knew that his project had been chosen in 2020. But the confinement came and what was going to be shown in 2021 was postponed, so that the Biennial coincided with the centenary of the opening of the Spain building. The proposal affected the interior of the building and the exterior, all of Venice. During his many visits to the Biennale, Aballí had noticed a strange relationship between the Spanish pavilion and its neighbors in the Netherlands. “It is a building turned with respect to those that surround it”, explains the artist. “It’s out of whack. I decided to play with the idea of rectification and error, while working with opposing concepts such as straight and rotated, or, for example, empty and full”.
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The curator sums up the project by saying that the building offers a meta-exhibition in which two architectures coexist. The new one has been installed inside the old one, and inside both there is nothing else. The project is also a summary of Aballí’s work because it contains many of the themes that have always accompanied his work: time and its imprint, the duplicity of naming and showing, absence and disappearance, the idea of wasting, the error and correctness or limits of the work material. For Aballí, the sum of the two structures of the pavilion composes a sculpture on which dust or light act on a whim, as if they were brushes scratching a palette of sensory lights.
The intervention has a second part in the form of seven books that have to do with the exhausted model of Venetian tourism. All are distributed free and are located in places not recognizable by the conventional visitor. The game consists of locating the hiding places. Several are located in bookstores to which they want to pay homage in these difficult times, in which case the ‘acqua alta’ is added, which periodically floods the ground floors of the buildings.
“We want to play with the speed of the visits. We know that each pavilion consumes about three minutes of each spectator’s journey. We are looking for slow and open speed”, explains Bea Espejo. “To do this we propose a slow turn around a city where it is easiest to get lost.”