53rd Venice Biennale

53rd Venice Biennale

New Zealand Pavilion at the Venice Biennale

May 6, 2009

53rd International Art Exhibition,
La Biennale di Venezia 2009

7 June – 22 November 2009

Judy Millar, Giraffe-Bottle-Gun
La Maddalena, Campo della Maddalena, Strada Nova, Cannaregio

Francis Upritchard, Save Yourself
Fondazione Claudio Buziol, Palazzo Mangilli-Valmarana, Cannaregio


New Zealand returns to the Venice Biennale for a fourth time with two artists in two venues.

Judy Millar creates a site specific installation for Venice’s only circular church, La Maddalena* that pushes viewers up close to her visceral, gestural canvases; it’s an immersive experience. The colour courses through the church, almost spilling out onto the piazza outside; this energetic work takes us into a new space.

Francis Upritchard installs a series of tableaux in three second floor rooms that look out over the Grand Canal of an exquisite Venetian palazzo. She uses the palazzo’s ornate mirrors to backlight and reflect table-height scenes of figures, illuminated by her hand-made lamps. The figures are quasi human: figurative and yet small enough to be dolls; so highly coloured as to suggest they come from another world.

Millar and Upritchard reflect Birnbaum’s theme of Making Worlds with these intense microcosms, one in a place of worship, the other in an intimate former residence. They both insist on a space for the contemporary in the antique Venetian landscape. Add to this the fact that these artists are committed makers: the physical aspect of Judy’s mark-making is emphatic, whilst Francis’ intensively worked figures reveal a long process of modelling, baking and painting: both overtly enjoy the ‘work’ element of making.

The venues are a short distance apart, parallel to the Grand Canal on one of the prominent walking routes between Venice’s train station and the Rialto, in Cannareggio.

The exhibitions will be launched on 3 June starting with an early morning procession through the streets of Venice to both venues led by a Māori kaumatua who will give the traditional New Zealand blessing of inauguration to the exhibitions. This will be followed by a spectacular powhiri (Māori welcome ceremony) by a 20-strong award-winning Kapa Haka group and breakfast in St Mark’s Square, accompanied by a performance by Moana and the Tribe.

The official opening parties showcasing the exhibitions for each artist will be held on 4 June beginning at Fondazione Claudio Buziol and proceeding to La Maddalena.

New Zealand’s unique blend of contemporary and design culture has given rise to a fresh and vibrant Pacific identity. Kiwi culture is about being innovative, independent and celebrating diversity which has led to artists developing a Pacific style seen nowhere else in the world. Featured at Judy Millar’s venue, La Maddalena, will be the New Zealand Room, a meeting place for visitors to explore New Zealand’s contemporary art, culture, literature and design.

The entrance way will be adorned by a unique waharoa (gateway sculpture) by highly regarded Maori artist George Nuku, and visitors will be able to participate in the New Zealand room’s interactive features as well as enter an online competition to win an “Arts Tour of New Zealand”.

Both projects are being developed in association with Commissioner Jenny Harper and are initiatives of Creative New Zealand, the Arts Council of New Zealand, Toi Aotearoa.

To find out more about the New Zealand pavilions visit www.nzatvenice.com for regular updates on both artists’ works, images, event details and New Zealand’s history at La Biennale Di Venezia.

Event details:
3 June 7.30am
Traditional Māori blessing with karakia (prayers) and waiata (songs) at La Maddalena (7.30am) and Fondazione Claudio Buziol (8.15am)

Exhibition opening times:

7 June – 22 November 2009, Tuesday – Sunday, 10am-6pm

Nearest Vaporetto:

Ca’ d’Oro/S.Marcuola

Venue Details: Google Map

For further information and to attend the inauguration ceremonies, contact Theresa Simon & Partners 00 44 207 734 4800 theresa@theresasimon.com

* Please note since last communication, Judy Millar’s venue has changed from San’ Antonio to La Maddalena.

New Zealand Pavilion

RSVP for 53rd Venice Biennale
New Zealand Pavilion at the Venice Biennale
May 6, 2009

Thank you for your RSVP.

New Zealand Pavilion at the Venice Biennale will be in touch.

I have read e-flux’s privacy policy and agree that e-flux may send me announcements to the email address entered above and that my data will be processed for this purpose in accordance with e-flux’s privacy policy*

Thank you for your interest in e-flux. Check your inbox to confirm your subscription.