April 3, 2019 - Danish Pavilion at the Venice Biennale - Larissa Sansour: Heirloom
April 3, 2019

Danish Pavilion at the Venice Biennale

Larissa Sansour / Søren Lind, In Vitro (production still), 2019. Film, 2 channels. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Lenka Rayn H.

Larissa Sansour
Danish Pavilion at the Venice Biennale
May 11–November 24, 2019

Press Event: May 8, 4:30pm
Opening: May 9, 1pm

Danish Pavilion at the Venice Biennale


For the Danish Pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale, the Danish-Palestinian artist Larissa Sansour will present Heirloom, an otherworldly rumination on memory, history and identity. Curated by Nat Muller, the exhibition will comprise of a two-channel science-fiction film, a sculptural installation and an architectural intervention, inviting the viewer into a dark universe.

“The film, entitled In Vitro, is staged in the town of Bethlehem decades after an eco-disaster. The dying founder of a subterranean orchard is engaged in a dialogue with her young successor, who is born underground and has never seen the town she is destined to replant and repopulate. Inherited trauma, exile and collective memory are central themes.

The younger woman struggles with her memories of the past, dismissing them as nothing but reductive patterns, tropes and iconography. This is a topic of great interest to me. In my recent work, the negotiation of identity markers and signifiers is a key focus. While these aim to erect the pillars of a shared understanding, they also tend to rid the notions they emphasise of any significance, eventually rendering them meaningless.

The sculptural installation takes a psychological object from the film and recreates it as a large-scale monument. It further explores the protagonist’s trauma and converts it to a physically imposing fact.”
–Larissa Sansour, February 2019

The interplay between fiction and reality, the ever-evolving merger of myth and history, is a recurring theme in Sansour’s art. As curator Nat Muller explains: “Science fiction becomes a vehicle in which imaginaries and future scenarios can be challenged and tested, and in which individual narratives and personal experiences intertwine with collective ones; it becomes a place and time in which remembrance and forgetfulness compete, and where the past, the present, and even the future, might be dispossessed. Nevertheless it is also is a realm of possibility, of alternative world-making, if not radical alterity.”

The film In Vitro is directed with Søren Lind and features the internationally-renowned Palestinian actors Hiam Abbass and Maisa Abd Elhadi. It was filmed in Bethlehem, London and Oxfordshire.

Larissa Sansour was born in 1973 in East Jerusalem. She studied Fine Art in Copenhagen, London and New York. Her work is interdisciplinary and uses film, photography, installation and sculpture. Sansour has had several major solo shows internationally—most recently at Dar El-Nimr in Beirut. Her work In the Future They Ate from the Finest Porcelain has been shown in Liverpool, Rome, Cardiff, Copenhagen, Nottingham, Dubai, Madrid and London, while her Nation Estate exhibition has been shown in Rome, Jerusalem, Copenhagen, Wolverhampton, Turku and Paris. Sansour lives and works in London.

Nat Muller is an independent curator and writer based between Birmingham and Amsterdam. She has published widely on the topic of contemporary art and has edited a variety of monographs. Recent exhibition projects include This is the Time. This is the Record of the Time at Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam & American University of Beirut Gallery (2014/15) and the A.M. Qattan 2016 Young Artist of the Year Award at Qalandiya International in Ramallah. She is an AHRC-funded PhD candidate at Birmingham City University researching science fiction in contemporary visual art from the Middle East.

Project publication
The volume Heirloom will be at the finissage of the Biennale, as part of the Research/Practice series (ed. Anthony Downey, Sternberg Press, 2019). Documenting Sansour’s artistic research for the Danish Pavilion, its material has been collated in parallel with the project’s one-year development, and explores what it means to produce work from within contested geographies. 

Media Relations
Marie Futtrup, Danish Arts Foundation, mfu [​at​] kum.dk, T + 45 41 39 39 81

Gair Burton, Pickles PR, gair [​at​] picklespr.com, T +44 74 02 78 44 70
Alfred Worrall, Pickles PR, alfred [​at​] picklespr.com, T +44 75 07 06 12 06

Danish Pavilion at the Venice Biennale
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