May 28, 2009 - Portuguese Pavilion at the Venice Biennale - Joao Maria Gusmao & Pedro Paiva at 53rd Venice Biennale
May 28, 2009

Joao Maria Gusmao & Pedro Paiva at 53rd Venice Biennale

João Maria Gusmão+Pedro Paiva
“Soup”, 2009. 3′ 35”
35mm film, color, no sound

53rd International Art Exhibition –
La Biennale di Venezia

Experiments and Observations on Different Kinds of Air
João Maria Gusmão + Pedro Paiva

7th June – 22nd November 2009

Curated by Natxo Checa

Fondaco dell’ Arte (Grand Canal)

Preview Days:
2, 3 and 4 June from 9.30 pm – midnight
Pavilion Opening: 5 June from 6 – 8 pm
Press Conference: 6 June at 12 noon

The Portuguese artist duo made up of João Maria Gusmão and Pedro Paiva represent Portugal in this edition, the 53rd International Exhibition of Art – La Biennale di Venezia. The works to be presented have been executed in close collaboration with the curator of the exhibition, Natxo Checa.

Experiments and Observations on Different Kinds of Air, is an appropriated title from one of Joseph Priestley’s better known scientific papers. In the exhibition the artists set out to isolate, stage and explore singular phenomena pertaining to science as a possible way to get to know the world. Priestley, an 18th century natural philosopher not unanimously credited with the discovery of oxygen in its gaseous state, sets the tone for their explorations.

“In adopting Nature and its respective manifestations as their subject matter, the artists aggregate and propose complicated blocks of ideas and knowledge that together establish a complex scientificticious phantasm. We are faced with a series of fictional scripts, literary in profile, rooted in the observation of particular phenomena and the design of a particular philosophical architecture” states the curator in his introductory text.

Setting in motion defunct as well as functional theories of science, influenced by anthropology, Greek philosophy and literature, the artists will present an installation consisting of a number of 16 mm and 35 mm silent film works.

As is common to their practice, an anthology of texts has been edited to accompany the exhibition. This anthology, eponymously titled after the exhibition, is edited by Mattia Denisse and include essays by Honoré de Balzac, Jorge Luis Borges, Geneviève Calame-Griaule, Jean Cocteau, Charles Darwin, René Daumal, Roger Gilbert-Lecomte, Stanislaw Lem, Lie-tseu, Auguste de Villiers de L’Isle-Adam, Gustav Meyrink, Fernando Pessoa, Plato, Pliny the Younger, Edgar Allan Poe, Gaston Tissandier, Paul Valéry, Jules Verne, H. G. Wells as well as contributions by the curator, commissioner and editor. The anthology is published by the Directorate-General for Arts of the Portuguese Ministry of Culture and distributed by Electa Mondadori in Italy and 90º in Portugal. The publication will be on sale at the Portuguese Pavilion and at Electra bookstores in Venice.

João Maria Gusmão (Lisbon, 1979) and Pedro Paiva (Lisbon, 1977) are artists of a new generation with a recent and unusually solid career. In the last decade the duo’s participation in international contexts such as the 27th São Paulo Biennial, the 6th Mercosul Biennial, Manifesta 7, PhotoEspaña 08 along with exhibitions, among others, at CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco and Kunstverein Hanover has contributed to the consolidation of their work. Upcoming exhibitions at Ikon Gallery, Birmingham and Inhotim Cultural Center, Minas Gerais.

Natxo Checa (Barcelona, 1968) is an independent curator and Director of Zé dos Bois (ZDB) Center for creation, production and diffusion of contemporary art in Lisbon. In partnership with ZDB, the artists and curator have collaborated on several projects: DeParamnésia (2001-2002), Magnetic Effluvium (2004-2006) and Abissology (2008).

The Portuguese Pavilion is commissioned and produced by the Directorate-General for Arts of the Portuguese Ministry of Culture represented by Jorge Barreto Xavier, the Director-general for Arts.

Press Office of the Portuguese Pavilion
International Press: Cecilia Andersson, +46 768 722 831 and +39 3409 388 402
National press: Sandra Vieira Jürgens, +351 933 451 775

Portuguese Pavilion
Fondaco dell’ Arte
Calle del Traghetto o Ca’ Garzoni
San Marco 3415 Venezia
Vaporetto 1 Sant Angelo; Vaporetto 82 San Samuele
Traghetto from San Tomà to the pier next to Pavilion
To view map go to:

Directorate-General for Arts of the Portuguese Ministry of Culture
Av. da Liberdade, 144 – 2º andar, 1250-146 Lisboa • T: +351 211 507 010 •

Portuguese Pavilion

Portuguese Pavilion at the Venice Biennale
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