German artist Anna Imhoff was honoured to receive the Golden Lion for best national participation, the most prestigious prize of the 57th Venice Biennale, for her performance called “Faust”.
Barking Dobermans welcoming the visitors. Transparent cages, floors and platforms leaving just enough space for some actors to move and interact, under, above or amongst the crowd. This subversive universe of violence, aggressiveness, intrusion and voyeurism in glass, steel and leather left a strong impression on the Jury of the Biennale. Manuel Borja-Villel, jury member, described the performance as “a powerful and disturbing installation that poses urgent questions about our time.” Since the Golden Lion was awarded to Anna Imhoff, one can also wonder what is the most disturbing : the art performance itself, or the growing queues of visitors waiting to enter the German pavilion in order to be unsettled.
Other awards were given by the Jury : amongst them, the famous prizes going to artists taking part in the central show of the Biennale. “Viva Arte Viva”, curated by Christine Macel, chief curator of Centre Pompidou, Paris runs in parallel to the 85 national pavilions and aims at giving a picture of the contemporary art scene today.
The Golden Lion for the best artist was awarded to another German, Franz Erhard Walther for his installation/performance piece made of bright layers of fabrics meant to be activated by visitors. The Silver Lion went to the young and promising Egyptian born and based Hassan Khan for “Composition for a public parc”. His artwork, an immersive sound installation mixing voices and string instruments sounds delighted the Jury for “the special and imaginative relationship established with the spectator”, his installation “beautifully intertwined the political and the poetic.”
A third Golden Lion, this time for “Lifetime achievement”, went to the American performance and painter artist Carolee Schneemann for her work on feminism and politics. Two special mentions were also given. One went to Petrit Halilaj, who represented Kosovo at the 2013 Biennale. The other went to american multi-media performance artist Charles Atlas.
Finally, the Brazilian pavilion won a special mention for a national representation thanks to an exhibition by Cinthia Marcelle.
The pavilions and “Viva Arte Viva” will run through Nov.26.