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.
Artist duo IC-98 is representing Finland. The pavilion is in the Giardini.
What can you tell us about your exhibition plans for Venice?
Hours, Years, Aeons is a site-specific continuation of our work-in-progress, the Abendland cycle. It will be an intimate mixed media installation combining animation and material elements. The story revolves around extremely long durations, drawing the viewer into distant future after the age of man.
Are you approaching this show in a different way as to how you would a ‘normal’ exhibition?
The Finnish Pavilion (Aalto) is a very challenging exhibition venue, being small and rather idiosyncratic. It’s impossible to approach it as an empty vessel - a white cube or a black box. You have to integrate the building and its history into the work, which luckily comes naturally to us. At the same time, this integration is made very difficult because the pavilion was designed as a modernist machine for displaying paintings, and the listed status prevents fundamental engagement with the space, the building and its immediate surroundings.
What does it mean to ‘represent’ your country? Do you find it an honour or problematic?
The national representation is an anachronism and as such rather problematic. We are above all representing ourselves. Having said that, it would be naive to think that we are not part of a national scene, the power relations and funding mechanism peculiar to Finland. This anachronism (which isn’t going to disappear from sports any time soon!) is however becoming more interesting as it becomes more rare. Venice opens up - or forces upon us - the need to think about artistic nationality and its meanings in a situation where we ourselves live under the illusion of total individuality and freedom.
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?
Thinking about reception would feel opportunistic to us. We do what we do and hope it reaches and touches somebody. No matter who, whether a professional or a member of general public.
What are your earliest or best memories of the biennale?
Up until recent years the biennale didn’t have much meaning to us. We couldn’t relate to it, I guess.
You’ll no doubt be very busy, but what else are you looking forward to seeing?
Okwui Enwezor’s main exhibition sounds very interesting. When we first heard about the theme, it was almost uncanny. The curatorial concept seems to be very much in line with our work and our interests of many years.
How does a having a pavilion in Venice affect the art scene in your home country?
It’s hard to say anything about the impact. At least having the pavilion in the Giardini (and in recent years occasionally two pavilions!) is taken for granted. The upside is that you are guaranteed to have visitors to see your work. The downside is that the Finnish Pavilion is not very suitable for displaying contemporary art in all its varieties.
Online exclusive published on 7 May 2015.