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Alfredo Jaar at the 55th Venice Biennial Representing Chile

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With his installation “Venezia, Venezia” the artist reflects on the relevance of the Biennial, about the critical side of the globalist utopia connected with this international cultural event, about destruction and reconstruction and the ultimate power of culture.

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These days, Jaar’s works seem to be everywhere – at the Tate Modern in London, the Art Basel Art Unlimited in Switzerland. But more importantly he represents his home country Chile at this year’s Venice Biennial with his impressive installation “Venezia, Venezia”. The visitor’s passage begins with a monumental light-box photograph, where the Argentine-Italian artist Lucio Fontana is depicted while walking on the ruins of his Milan studio in 1946, after the devastations of World War II. 
Beyond this disturbing image, where material ruins imply the ones of creative and critical activity, the viewer is confronted with a structure recalling Venetian bridges: stairs lead to a pool of greenish water, seemingly empty and dead. Out of a sudden, approximately every three minutes, a replica of the Giardini, the main exhibition space of the Biennial, emerges – only to disappear shortly after.

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Jaar explains: “The first encounter is with this suspended lightbox with a black-and-white image of Lucio Fontana discovering his destroyed studio. He’s coming back from Argentina where he was born. And this image for me symbolizes a key moment in history where Italy was destroyed morally and physically. And in less than 20 years, an extraordinary group of Italian intellectuals – filmmakers, writers, poets, and artists – they changed the course of history with their work. And it was a demonstration how culture can effect change.”

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