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Have a look at the Johannesburg Pavilion‘s activities at the 56th Venice Biennale thus far! Since the “world’s greatest contemporary arts showcase” has only just begun, this week’s is a mini-roundup but stay posted for next week’s ARTsouthAFRICA Weekly Newsletter for the full story, and keep up-to-date on ARTsouthAFRICA’s Facebook Page, where we will be posting daily JP2015 diary entries.

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LEFT: Anthea Moys is creating a series of new site-specific video works. The videos explore connections between the profession of lifeguarding and the game ‘Marco Polo’ which is inspired by the Venetian merchant traveller. Lifeguard Alberto Alberti is generously sharing his knowledge about his profession; TOP RIGHT: Suitcase stack sculpture of Fabio Mauri; BOTTOM RIGHT: Paintings my Marlene Dumas

Johannesburg Pavilion DAILY REPORT: 6 May 2015

Daily Report: The Opening Day of the 56th Venice Biennale.

Issey Miyake rules. He is everywhere, in every hue and colour but especially in black draped over the shoulder of a Western European female, slowly making her way to the main entrance of the Giardini, the main venue of the National Pavilions and the framing half of the 2015 director, Okwui Enwezor’s curated exhibition. She is not alone. This is the VVVIP week. Marina Abramovitch, unnaturally expressionless, staring at the suitcase stack sculpture of Fabio Mauri.

The stack shows no emotion either. Mario’s work is a “lifelong enquiry into the treacherous logic of art, ideology and totalitarianism”, a framing practice for the curated show.

Pier Paolo Pasolini surfaces in the reading of his poem La Guinea, which echoes in the “Arena”, a specially constructed space by architect David Adjaye and curated by Isaac Julien, where a live reading of the notes of two photographers, Joanna Hadjitomas & Khalil Joreige, are being read on a burnt-red raised platform surround by bleachers dotted with multicoloured cushions for weary backsides.

The first South African-born artist in this part of the exhibition, is a room filled with small paintings of skulls by Marlene Dumas. Private, poignant and precious squares of stripped-back portraits, simple and powerful, once inhabited skulls in watery greys, blues and a few ochre-yellow bleeds. You can stay in this room for a while, silent, still, at rest.

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Some additional images from JP2015’s social media. Images courtesy of The Johannsburg Pavilion

Walead Beshty’s draped human figure cutouts from newspapers resonates through the drywalls with Dumas’s practice of painting from images in the public realm. These sculptures speaks of an urgency to drag the press pictures into the art space; pick, cut, stick, drape, done(!), the visual language of the makers of ‪#‎Occupy protest posters and placates.

John Akomfrah, founder of the Black Audio Film Collective, presents a three screen film installation. PAUSE. STAY. WATCH THE WHOLE THING. The films wash over you, take you away to water world inhabited by whales, jellyfish and drowned African bodies. Its a meditative construction in motion and moving image that delivers you back to the real world, while longing for the deep blue sea, finding yourself holding on to the side rails of the Vaporetto or waterbus not to fall into the Sta Soft bluegreen hue of the Grand Canal.

JP2015 Daily Report 1

Some additional images from JP2015’s Instagram Feed. Images courtesy of The Johannsburg Pavilion.

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LEFT TO RIGHT: Athi-Patra Ruga, performing The Elders of Azania, in Venice, 2015. 15 Minutes. Start to Finish! Techno-futurist film and sound bathed the performance of Ruga and ten Venetian artists in magical light as they performed the latest instalment of the Future White Women of Azania. Outside the crowds were clamouring, throwing fists in the air, wanting to experience this hugely popular performance, firsthand.

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