Norman, Razavi and Saal to represent Estonia at 59th Venice Biennale

Kristina Norman, Bita Razavi and curator Corina Apostol
Kristina Norman, Bita Razavi and curator Corina Apostol Source:

Visitors to the 59th Venice Art Biennale taking place in 2022 can see an exhibition from Kristina Norman and Bita Razav, entitled "Orhideliirium. Isu külluse järele" (curator Corina L. Apostol) in Estonia's pavilion. The basis of the exhibition are the watercolors and paintings of tropical plants by Emilie Rosalie Saal (1871-1954).

With the exhibition, the artists offer a multilayered viewpoint to understand the colonial history and discuss the issues, the Contemporary Art Center of Estonia (KKEK) announced.

The pavilion will be open from April 2022 in Venice, Italy, where Estonia has been invited to join the Netherland's historical pavilion building, within the Biennale main area in Giardini.

The starting point of the exhibition's idea is about 300 hundred photos from the Estonian artist Emilie Rosalie Saal who was active in the beginnings of the 20th century and is forgotten now. Saal painted tropical plants in Indonesia, a former Dutch colony, where she lived and traveled with her husband Andres Saal during the years 1899-1920. Saal's paintings were highly valued by, among others, scientists at the Royal Botanic Gardens in the Netherlands. In 1926, the exhibition of Saal's works was at the Los Angeles Museum of History, Science and Art.

The painters Kristina Norman and Bita Razavi are creating new paintings to the exhibition based on Saal's story and personality. The two artists are asking important questions about politics, society, culture, gender, national identity and global processes.

The project mirrors the intertwined histories, the relationship between the "winners" and "losers" and the complexity of understanding these matters.

Introducing the painters and the curator

Kristina Norman (born 1979) is a painter and director of documentaries living in Tallinn who is researching national identity and the exposure area of social memory and public space. Norman is participating in the Venice Biennale for the second time; in 2009, she represented Estonia with a solo project "Järelsõda".

Bita Razavi is a painter with Iranian roots, who is diving her life between the city of Helsinki and Estonia. Her creation focuses on observing everyday situations based on what, she makes larger conclusions on the culture and society surrounding us. In her last project "Balti remondimuuseum" (2019) she researched Estonians' repair practices.

Corina Apostol (1984) is a curator at Tallinn Art Hall who has previously worked in Bukarest for a long time and in New York on international projects, which focuses has been mainly on socially active art. Apostol is one of the editors of the book "Making another world possible" (Routledge, 2019) and the curator of the international art festival "Shelter".

There were 38 art projects submitted to the Estonian pavilion at the Venice Biennale, which is also the record of recent years.

The members of the 59th Estonian pavilion jury were Antonia Alampi, Artistic director of the Berlin exhibition house SAVVY Contemporary, Maria Arusoo, Commissioner of the Estonian pavilion, Hendrik Folkerts, Curator of Modern and Contemporary art at the Chicago Art Institute, Krist Gruijthuijsen, Director of the KW Berlin Art Center, Sirje Helme, Representative of the KKEK council, Maria-Kristiina Soomre, Representative of the Ministry of Culture and Jaanus Samma who represented the pavilion in 2015.

"The exhibition 'Orhideliirium. Isu külluse järele' takes us to the surprising and deeply researched work, which is framed by a unique and at the same time, everyday story," member of the jury, Antonia Alampi justified the decision.

Estonia's exhibition will take place in the heart of the art biennale in the Giardini exhibition hall.

For the upcoming biennale, the Mondriaan Fund, which is the organizational team for the Dutch entry has invited the Estonians to exhibit as guests in their historical Rietveld pavilion building in the middle of Giardini. This time, the Dutch themselves move out of their building and present their exhibition elsewhere in the city.


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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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