Australian Pavilion wins Golden Lion in Venice

Australian Pavilion

The Jury of the 60th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, comprising Julia Bryan-Wilson (USA), President of the Jury, Alia Swastika (Indonesia), Chika Okeke-Agulu (Nigeria), Elena Crippa (Italy), and María Inés Rodríguez (France/Colombia), has decided to present the following awards:

Golden Lion for Best National Participation:
kith and kin

Commissioner: Creative Australia
Curator: Ellie Buttrose
Exhibitor: Archie Moore
Venue: Giardini

A special mention have been awarded to the following National Participation:
The Echoing Silences of Metal and Skin

Commissioner: Hana Halilaj, National Gallery of Kosovo
Curators: Erëmirë Krasniqi
Exhibitor: Doruntina Kastrati
Venue: Museo Storico Navale, Riva S. Biasio 2148

Golden Lion for the Best Participant in the International Exhibition:
Mataaho Collective
(Founded in Aotearoa, New Zealand in 2012. Based in Aotearoa, New Zealand)

Silver Lion for a Promising Young Participant in the International Exhibition:
Karimah Ashadu
(London, UK, 1985. Lives in Hamburg, Germany and Lagos, Nigeria)

The Jury has decided to award two special mentions to the following participants:

Samia Halaby
(Jerusalem, Palestine, 1936. Lives in New York City, USA)

La Chola Poblete
(Mendoza, Argentina, 1989. Lives Buenos Aires, Argentina)

The Awards Ceremony of the 60th International Art Exhibition took place on April 20th, 2024, at Ca’ Giustinian. Upon recommendation of the Curator of the 60th Exhibition Adriano Pedrosa two Golden Lions for Lifetime Achievement go to Italian-born Brazilian artist Anna Maria Maiolino and to the Paris-based Turkish artist Nil Yalter.

The awards of the International Jury have been presented with the following motivations:

Golden Lion for Best National Participation to Australia:
In this quietly powerful pavilion, Archie Moore worked for months to hand-draw with chalk a monumental First Nations family tree. Thus 65,000 years of history (both recorded and lost) are inscribed on the dark walls as well as on the ceiling, asking viewers to fill in blanks and take in the inherent fragility of this mournful archive. Floating in a moat of water are redacted official State records, reflecting Moore’s intense research as well as the high rates of incarceration of First Nations’ people. This installation stands out for its strong aesthetic, its lyricism, and its invocation of shared loss for occluded pasts. With his inventory of thousands of names, Moore also offers a glimmer of possibility for recuperation.

Special mention as National Participation to Republic of Kosovo:
Small yet potent, Doruntina Kastrati’s installation refers to feminized industrial labor and the wearing down of working women’s bodies. Referencing both the walnut shells used in factory-made Turkish delight as well as the medical parts used to replace worker’s knees as they make these sweets, Kastrati’s elegant sculptures invite viewers to interact with them. A vibrating soundscape travels up through the floor, resonating both in our bones and echoing a larger arena of feminist activism.

Golden Lion for the Best Artist in the International Exhibition Stranieri Ovunque – Foreigners Everywhere to Mataaho Collective:
The Maori Mataaho Collective has created a luminous woven structure of straps that poetically crisscross the gallery space. Referring to matrilinear traditions of textiles with its womb-like cradle, the installation is both a cosmology and a shelter. Its impressive scale is a feat of engineering that was only made possibly by the collective strength and creativity of the group. The dazzling pattern of shadows cast on the walls and floor harks back to ancestral techniques and gestures to future uses of such techniques.

Silver Lion for a Promising Young Artist in the International Exhibition Stranieri Ovunque – Foreigners Everywhere to Karimah Ashadu:

Karimah Ashadu with her video Machine Boys and related brass sculpture, Wreath, upends gendered assumptions about the gaze and what is considered proper to commemorate. With a searing intimacy, she captures the vulnerability of young men from the agrarian north of Nigeria who have migrated to Lagos and end up riding illegal motorbike taxis. Her feminist camera lens is extraordinarily sensitive and intimate, capturing the bikers’ subcultural experience as well as their economic precarity. Masterfully edited to draw out yet subtly critique the performance of masculinity on display, her sensual attention to surfaces of machine, flesh, and cloth reveals the rider’s marginal existence.

Two Special Mentions are awarded to the following artists:

Samia Halaby has been a longstanding artist, teacher, and activist who the jury wishes to honor with a special mention. Her commitment to the politics of abstraction has been married to her unwavering attention to the suffering of the people of Palestine. Her gorgeously rendered modernist painting in the “Nucleo Storico” of Foreigners Everywhere, entitled Black is Beautiful, suggests not only the sovereignty of the imagination but also the importance of global solidarities.

La Chola Poblete engages in critical play with histories of colonial representation from a trans Indigenous perspective. Her multivalent art – including watercolor, fabric, and photography – resists the exoticization of Indigenous women while she insists on the power of sexuality. She approaches Western religious iconography and indigenous spiritual practices with a trans and queer flair, inverting power relations with pieces that refer to ancestral knowledge from South America.

Read more about Venice Biennale