The Venice Questionnaire 2015 #25: Tsibi Geva

Representing Israel at the 2015 Venice Biennale, Tsibi Geva answered our short questionnaire

Tsibi Geva, Tire Wall, 2015 (detail). Photo: Elad Sarig. Courtesy the Israeli pavilion at the 56th Venice BIennale

ArtReview sent a questionnaire to artists and curators exhibiting in and curating the various national pavilions of the 2015 Venice Biennale, the responses to which will be published daily in the lead-up to the Venice Biennale opening.

Tsibi Geva is representing Israel. The Pavilion is in the Giardini.

What can you tell us about your exhibition plans for Venice?

The plan for the Venice Biennale is for a complex new installation, which will extend over the exterior of the pavilion as well as on its interior and include motifs that I dealt with in the past (the Keffiyeh, terrazzo, lattices, shutters, and other components of the 'house' or 'home'), taking them to a new level. The installation will combine found objects, sculptures, paintings, and video art.

Are you approaching this show in a different way as to how you would a ‘normal’ exhibition?

The project for the Biennale was planned as site-specific for the Israeli pavilion. In this respect, it is different in the way it is bringing together elements I have previously used separately in my work. It is a work that totally disrupts the distinction between external and internal, high and low, conceptually creating different kinds of dialectic hybrids.

What does it mean to ‘represent’ your country? Do you find it an honour or problematic?

I was born in Israel. Except for a few years here and there I have lived in Israel all my life; my art is in a way the product of, and a reflection on this place which I love and which tears me apart in its radical political and ethical conflict. The Hebrew culture and language are my homeland and from my point of view, this is a fact – not an idealisation.

Nevertheless, I belong to those who for many years have opposed the occupation, and the destructive and cancerous influence it has on every aspect of Israeli and Palestinian culture and society. And in my work I tried all those years to deal with this complex and almost impossible identity in aesthetic and linguistic terms.

I was selected to represent Israel in the Biennale by a professional committee because of the artistic achievements I attained over many years.

I am coming to Venice not in order to speak politics, but to build a project that might be political, in that it will make it possible to put forward the repressed and the rejected, thereby facilitating fruitful dialogue; a political and cultural dialogue concerning immigration, multicultural society, temporariness, existential anxiety, a sense of a dead-end road, and living on the edge.

Yes, I feel that it is an honour and a privilege to deal with this problematic reality.

How are you approaching the different audiences who come to Venice – the masses of artist peers, gallerists, curators and critics concentrated around the opening and the general public who come through over the following months?

As with any other exhibition – I welcome everyone.

What are your earliest or best memories of the biennale?

The most meaningful Biennale for me is the one I didn’t see.

In 1993 my older brother Avital was exhibiting in the Israeli Pavilion. My father was terminally ill so I stayed at home in Israel and took care of him. He died right after the Biennale’s opening.

You’ll no doubt be very busy, but what else are you looking forward to seeing?

I'm especially looking forward to the exhibition All the World's Futures and to see how Biennale curator Okwui Enwezor's formulating of the current state of affairs in the world will be reflected in the main exhibition.

How does a having a pavilion in Venice affect the art scene in your home country?

The Israeli pavilion has existed for 60 years and it always awakens a special interest among the art lovers of this country.

Read all responses to the Venice Questionnaire 2015 edition published so far

Read all 30 responses to the Venice Questionnaire 2013 edition 

Online exclusive published on 5 May 2015.