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Diana Al-Hadid at the 55th Venice Biennale
Brooklyn-based artist Diana Al-Hadid travels to the 55th Venice Biennale, where she tours the exhibition and speaks candidly with five of her peers about their work. “It is fascinating to see what problems other artists are solving,” says Al-Hadid, “and what curiosities they’re pursuing that sometimes feel very similar to the curiosities [I’m] pursuing.”
In Venice, she interviews artists Jesper Just, Kimsooja, Mark Manders, and Katrín Sigurdardóttir. Back in Brooklyn, Al-Hadid video chats with fellow Art21 artist Ai Weiwei who is prohibited from leaving China; their conversation is accompanied by footage of Ai’s collateral exhibition in Venice.More information and credits
Artist to Artist Created & Produced by: Ian Forster. Director: Susan Sollins. Editor: Morgan Riles. Cinematography: Stephanie Andreou, John Martin, Wesley Miller, & Jared Schiller. Sound: Ian Forster & Jared Schiller. Production Assistant: Joanne Dawson. Composer: Henry Terepka. Images courtesy: Diana Al-Hadid. Artists: Ai Weiwei, Diana Al-Hadid, Jesper Just, Kimsooja, Mark Manders, & Katrín Sigurdardóttir. Thanks: The Venice Biennale & Massimiliano Gioni. An Art21 Workshop Production. © Art21, Inc. 2013. All Rights Reserved.
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An outspoken human rights activist, Ai Weiwei infuses his sculptures, photographs, and public artworks with political conviction and personal poetry, often making use of recognizable and historic Chinese art forms in critical examinations of a host of contemporary Chinese political and social issues. In his sculptural works he often uses reclaimed materials—ancient pottery and wood from destroyed temples—in a conceptual gesture that connects tradition with contemporary social concerns. He also employs sarcasm, juxtaposition, and repetition to reinvigorate the potency and symbolism of traditional images and to reframe the familiar with minimal means.
Diana Al-Hadid was born in 1981 in Aleppo, Syria. She was raised in Cleveland, Ohio, and currently lives and works in New York. Al-Hadid’s large-scale sculptures and wall hangings are the outcome of process-based investigations into materials, including fiberglass, polymer, steel, and plaster. Exploiting the innate tension between mass and gravity, Al-Hadid is particularly interested in the point at which her works are fixed to the ground, often seeking to create what she describes as “something that seems improbable.”
Kimsooja’s videos and installations blur the boundaries between aesthetics and transcendent experience through their use of repetitive actions, meditative practices, and serial forms. In many pieces, everyday actions—such as sewing or doing laundry—become two- and three-dimensional or performative activities. Central to her work is the “bottari,” a traditional Korean bed cover used to wrap and protect personal belongings, which Kimsooja transforms into a philosophical metaphor for structure and connection. While striking for their vibrant color and density of imagery, Kimsooja’s works emphasize metaphysical changes within the artist-as-performer as well as the viewer.
“The amazing thing about the Venice Biennale is that the whole art world focuses on this ancient and beautiful city. This incredibly poetic city, and all of it’s really eccentric little nooks and crannies, become a playing ground for artists.”