New Voices Mark The Biennale

20 January 2023

Since 1895, Venice’s Biennale has nurtured and celebrated great artists and helped bring the world together after times of great disruption. Thanks to generous Canadian donors, Myriad Canada supported the participation of four unique Canadian talents in the delayed, post-pandemic 2022 edition of what many see as the art world’s foremost exhibition.

“We can think of artists as ambassadors and as prophets in a way that can help us look at the present moment with different eyes, different lenses,” said curator Cecilia Alemani, whose programme spotlighted young artists and those who lack commercial representation.

Delayed by a year by Covid-19, the 59th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, normally held every other year (hence the name), ran from 23 April to  27 November. The theme, ‘The Milk of Dreams’, was an exploration of the body, metamorphosis, technology, and the relationship between humans and the planet.

Each of the artists supported by Canadian funds had a singular voice that was deeply relevant to that theme, employing unique approaches to making works that push traditional boundaries of various media.

With commentary from Biennale Arte 2022 curator Cecilia Alemani, they were:

  • Elaine Cameron-Weir’s sculptural objects evoke the merging of body, technology, and machine: “I always love her work and it fits so well within the theme of the show, and so that came quite naturally.”
  • Jes Fan’s glass pieces infused with hormonal substances make evident the fraught intersection between biology and identity: “Jes is someone that very much works with their own body and using pieces of the body. I wanted to challenge us to try something ”
  • Kapwani Kiwanga focuses on a critique of systems of power through a combination of conceptual and architectural strategies: “What I appreciate about her work is that she can use abstraction to convey very relevant political ”
  • One of the exhibition’s youngest artists, Tau Lewis created epically scaled masks, hand-stitched from foraged textiles: “I really tried to give a platform to artists who can really use it, to kind of push their work further.”