Naima Morelli

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VeniceBiennale2019
The 2019 Venice Biennale has asked artists to step into the socio-political realm, in the middle of far-right Matteo Salvini’s Italy. And they have done it, dismantling Orientalism and getting the Mediterranean closer together in the process.

My first article on this 2019 Venice Biennale has just been published by Middle East Monitor.

Here is the link to the article

 

 

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ArchitectureBiennale

Hong-Kong based magazine Cobo has just published my report on this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale curated by Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena. The overarching theme for the show is “Reporting from the Front” and the Asian pavilions are very much in the spotlight.

Here’s the link to the piece

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memonadiakaabilinke

“I never decide in advance why I want to talk about a subject; it just arises from the context. The wall in particular is a symbol that speaks to me strongly,” says Tunisian-Russian artist Nadia Kaabi-Linke, to explain her new work at Dallas Contemporary gallery. “For me, walls mean separation. But walls are also skins that say something about a city and the people who live there in hidden ways,” she observes. “I have always been interested in revealing the invisible.”

Nadia Kaabi-Linke was born in Tunis in 1978 to a Russian mother and Tunisian father, she studied at the University of Fine Arts in Tunis before receiving a PhD from La Sorbonne in Paris. Her installations, objects and pictorial works are embedded in urban contexts, intertwined with memory and geographically and politically constructed identities. She currently has a solo show, called “Walk the Line”, at Dallas Contemporary in Texas, USA, from September 20 until December 21. I have interviewed Nadia for Middle East Monitor , asking her about her personal path through art, the Tunisian contemporary art scene and the theme of migration in her work.

Here’s the link to the piece

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photostory2
Here’s the second part of my photostory from the research for my book about contemporary art in Indonesia. If you miss the first part you can find it here

Rome, Berlin, Sorrento, Melbourne, Naples, Venice. Since I came back from Indonesia I tried to look for Indonesian art, artists and exhibitions wherever I went – and I met wonderful people in the process. At the same time I faced the challenge to organize all the material from my research and integrate it with new information. For months the arts pages of the Jakarta Post, the Jakarta Globe and Asia Art Pacific became my morning reading. I didn’t know much about how to write a research-based book when I started and I learned so much in the process – in the photo above you can see me experimenting with post-its.
In a few weeks the book will finally be published (want to be updated? Drop a mail to contact[at]naimamorelli.com with the subject line Indonesia Book and I’ll keep you posted). In the meantime here are some pictures from the European and Australian part of my research:

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Since no one cares about the 55th Venice Biennale anymore, I feel like sharing my definitive thoughts about my favourite pavilion, without anyone there to contradict me.
So, chart lovers, my favourite pavilion was the Indonesian one, curated by Rifky Effendy.
In no other pavilion the installations of different artists work so perfectly together. The show almost looked like one single artist and yet it encapsulated such a richness of discourses.

If you were at the Venice Biennale in October, you would have seen me wandering in the Arsenal looking for the Indonesian Pavillion.
I actually overshot the main entrance, so I came in by the back door.
It was dark inside, and there was a soft music that I didn’t notice in the first place. The music though ended up being a background noise influencing the entire experience of the pavilion.
The soundscape was actually by Solo composer Rahayu Supanggah, the guy who reinvented traditional Indonesian music. For the Biennale’s composition he was inspired by the theme of the pavilion, which was “Sankti”.
As the press release stated, Sankti is a sanskrit word that refers to the primordial cosmic energy and the personification of the divine, feminine creative energy, as well as indicating change and liberation.

The first dark-metal work I encountered immediately struck me with his expressive power.
A group of man wearing a Muslim hat were sitting at a table. One man was laying with his head on the table, like someone who had been shot or something. One man was pointing his finger to another gentleman, who looked baffled. If you looked better at these two figures and you would notice that their legs where stretched under the table so to touch each other.
But the figure that really stood out was a matriarch in traditional clothes, upright at the end of the table. She was bringing a hand at his chest like saying: “Who, me?”
A weird lamp was falling from the ceiling, almost touching the table. It was shaped like something between an octopus and a tropical fruit.

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Coming back from Australia, I decided to see the Venice Biennale before it ends.
Maybe it was not the greatest Biennale ever, but there are some artworks worth talking about. Here you are, my personal list of favourites:

  • Arthur Bispo do Rosario

I didn’t know about this incredible Brazilian artist before. Apparently he spent fifty years confined to the attic of a psychiatric institution because he started telling people about his visions. In the institution he started making art not with the idea of becoming an artist, but for his own eternal salvation. His work was first shown at the Venice Biennale in 1995 and now he is exhibiting again at the Arsenal.
I have always been attracted by work that relates with paganism, religion and folk tradition. His clusters of waste material, paper, wood and rags are just beautiful. His installations look like toys or fetishes.

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Oky Rey Montha is an interesting pop-surrealist artist from Indonesia.
I already wrote a post about one of his painting “Dark Venice” here.
Oky just had a big solo show in the Galeri Canna in Jakarta. The title of the exhibition “Brigitta Queen” is referred to his new character, a mysterious girl from Moscow with her face constantly hidden behind a mask.
Here you are a gallery of photographs from the exhibition that can give you an idea of Oky Rey Montha’s visionary world:

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duff0
Words are for explaining, but at the same time words are also for hiding.
In the moment you want to tell something, you’re making a choice. Saying something means not saying something else. It’s the feature of the language, you can’t help it. But if you’re an artist you can play with it.

Arthur Duff is one who is not scared of juggling on the edge of language’s ambiguities, indeed he enjoys himself exploring the multiple layers of semantics.
He’s an American Italian-based artist living in Venice (fortunate guy), and recent winner of the MACRO 2% prize.
Actually, the artist is not distanced himself a lot from MACRO, the main contemporary art museum of Rome. As you can see the Oredaria Arti Contemporanee Gallery, hosting his exhibition, is just nearby.

Duff’s solo show is called “Syntax Parallax”. As you came into the subterranean gallery, you’re suddenly greeted by two light installations. The yellow neons, forming words, seem to melt on to the floor.

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oky1

I came to know about the young Indonesian artist Oky Rey Montha from his solo show at Primo Marella Gallery in Milan and I’ll end up interviewing him for my book on contemporary art in Indonesia.

He seems to be the kinky and eccentric kink of artist that loves to get lost in his imagination.
With a dark, tim burtonian look and emo hair and makeup he’s directly out from one of his paintings.
His work reminds me of the pop-surrealism trend and is inspired by comics. Asian market sought this kind of paintings; at the same time Oky himself seems not to care too much about the market.
I look at him as a symbol of his generation that isn’t bother anymore with tradition and Wayang Puppets, but it’s more into pop and fantasy realms.
At the same time he knows how to take advantages of the web and he’s launching is own clothes collection called “Piratez” on facebook and on the blogosphere. He’s also an indie musician and loves to make drum performances during the exhibition openings.

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