Kris Lemsalu will represent Estonia at the 58th Venice Art Biennale

Next year, the Estonian pavilion at the Venice Art Biennale will feature an exhibition by Kris Lemsalu. The working title of the project is FUNTAIN. The Estonian pavilion exhibition will be opened next May in Venice, in a spectacular industrial building on the island of Giudecca.

Lemsalu is planning to create a fantasy world that is at once real and fairy-tale, involving in the process international musicians and performance artists, many of whom she has worked with before. This environment will be created for the purpose of producing a whole and emotionally charged installation in which every viewer could participate themselves. An international team of curators and writers will begin work on the exhibition project.

“In my previous work, there are too many depictions of death, which there is already enough of in the world around me,” says Lemsalu, describing her plans for the pavilion in Venice, “and even though it can be naive to think that I will be able to ditch this subject so easily, I will at least attempt to make the viewer smile – there is all the more reason to, as in Venice, death wears a carnival mask anyway.”  

Kris Lemsalu is an artist with a distinctive visual language who makes use of combined techniques and methods from ceramic, installation and performance art. The driving forces behind her work are often events and stories from her personal life, based on which the artist creates mises en scène that enable her to make wider generalisations.

Lemsalu has studied at the Estonian Academy of Arts, the Danish Design School and the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. This year, she received an Estonian national culture award for her performances at the Performa17 art biennial in New York, the David Roberts Art Foundation’s 10th anniversary events in London and for her international exhibitions in 2017. In Summer 2018 Lemsalu will be participating at the Baltic Triennial 13 and will have a solo show at the soon-opening Goldsmith's College Gallery in London at at Secession in Vienna.

Member of the jury and director of Berlin’s KW Institute for Contemporary Art Krist Gruijthuijsen pointed out the unique visual language Lemsalu’s work uptains, the inner energy expressed by her pieces and her urge for new collaborative formats. The jury was particularly impressed by Lemsalu’s deep sense of place and her intention to create a single piece that would be derived from the pavilion space and its context, and would blend in seamlessly. 

In 2019, the Estonian pavilion exhibition will take place at a new location – on the island of Giudecca, a few minutes’ ride away from the biennale’s hub. Giudecca has been and still is home to many industrial buildings, and the Estonian pavilion exhibition will be set up in the rooms of a former boat factory. During the 2017 art biennale, Giudecca hosted the pavilion exhibitions of Iceland, Portugal, Kenya and the University of Helsinki.  

The winner was chosen by a jury comprising of the director of Berlin’s KW Institute for Contemporary Art Krist Gruijthuijsen, curator at Frame Contemporary Art Finland Taru Elfving, director of Riga’s Kim? Contemporary Art Centre Valentinas Klimašauskas, Estonian Ministry of Culture representative Maria-Kristiina Soomre, board members of the Centre for Contemporary Arts Estonia Kaido Ole, Sirje Helme and Rael Artel, and the director of the CCA and commissioner for the Estonian pavilion at the Venice biennale Maria Arusoo.

Estonia has been participating in the biennale since 1997 and will be setting up its twelth pavilion in 2019. Last year, Katja Novitskova represented Estonia at the Venice Art Biennale with her exhibition If Only You Could See What I’ve Seen with Your Eyes,which was held at the Palazzo Malipiero. The progression of that exhibition can be seen at the Kumu Art Museum until June 10th.  

Estonia’s participation in the Venice international art biennale is organised by the Center for Contemporary Arts, Estonia and funded by the Estonian Ministry of Culture.

More information:
Maria Arusoo
Commissioner of Estonian Pavilion