‘False flag’ by Iratxe Jaio and Klaas van Gorkum on show at the Biennale of Sydney

Euskara. Kultura. Mundura.


‘False flag’, by Iratxe Jaio y Klaas Van Gorkum will be exhibited at the 24th Biennale of Sydney from 9 March to 10 June, thanks in part to the ZABAL programme promoted by the Etxepare Basque Institute.

Last April, the artistic directors of the Biennale of Sydney travelled to the Basque Country as guests of the Etxepare Basque Institute. The purpose of their visit was to immerse themselves in the Basque artistic landscape and gain firsthand insights into the artistic practices prevalent in the region. During their visit, they toured museums, art spaces, and artists´ studios. It was during this exploration that Iratxe Jaio and Klaas van Gorkum crossed paths, leading to their invitation to participate in the exhibition.

The 24th Biennale of Sydney, titled ‘Ten Thousand Suns’, proposes celebration as both a method and a source of joy, produced in common and broadly shared.

With a contemporary art exhibition at its core, the exhibition draws from multiple histories, voices, and perspectives, to explore connected thematic threads, from the celebration of First Nations technologies and knowledge  to Queer resilience, and the international expression of Carnival.

‘False Flag’

The point of departure for this work is ‘Le Drapeau Noir’, a painting by the surrealist René Magritte that is reported to have been inspired by the bombing of Gernika. It features a number of futuristic airplanes ominously hanging above the horizon. Like props from a science fiction movie, they seem to foreshadow the drones and satellites that circle our planet today.

Iratxe and Klaas have produced three-dimensional models of these airplanes. They are shown together with a video in which the mountains surrounding Gernika are used as an acoustic enclosure for a medley of voices, evoking the horrors of war by describing what can be seen in the painting ‘Guernica’ by Picasso.

Jaio and van Gorkum embrace the incongruities and anachronisms of Magritte’s painting, which they consider to be a deviation from the historical canon in which Picasso´s ‘Guernica’ plays a central role. From the margins, Magritte’s flying machines serve as vehicles for an unorthodox reflection on modernity, and on the role art plays in the collective imagination of historical memory.

Iratxe Jaio and Klaas van Gorkum have been an artistic duo since 2001. Their practice could be compared to experimental archaeology: they explore the social meaning of existing objects and documents through their appropriation and reproduction in a different context.

They have participated in numerous individual and collective exhibitions held in spaces such as the Artium Museum in Vitoria-Gasteiz; ADN Platform in Barcelona; FRAC Aquitaine in Bordeaux; MUSAC in Leon; Tabakalera in Donostia-San Sebastián; Kunsthalle Exnergasse in Vienna; Fabra i Coats in Barcelona; De Appel in Amsterdam; or Konsthall C in Stockholm.

Previous achievements of ZABAL

The Etxepare Basque Institute launched the ZABAL programme in 2019 to create international networks that promote long-term exchange and collaboration between local and international creators, professionals and stakeholders. Since then, curators of some of the most important events in the contemporary art world have had the opportunity to learn about the Basque art scene: São Paulo Biennial (2019 and 2022), Documenta Fifteen (2020), Shanghai Biennial (2021 and 2023), Venice Biennial (2022) and Sydney Biennial (2023).

Other notable results of the programme are the participation of the publishing house and cultural space Consonni in Documenta Fifteen (2022) and June Crespo’s participation in the Venice Biennale (2022). Recently, the ´Portrait of Catalina de Erauso, the Lieutenant Nun’, belonging to the Kutxa Fundazioa collection, was on display at the São Paulo Biennial, and works by Jorge Oteiza and Itziar Barrio can currently be seen at the 14th Shanghai Biennial.

To execute the ZABAL programme, the Institute receives technical support of Artingenium, dedicated to the production and management of contemporary art projects locally and internationally.

Etxepare Basque Institute and the artist

In 2019, the Etxepare Basque Institute initiated the ZABAL initiative to enhance the global presence of Basque culture and artists. ‘False flag’, by Iratxe Jaio y Klaas Van Gorkum will be exhibited at the 24th Biennale of Sydney from 9 March to 10 June, thanks in part to the ZABAL programme promoted by the Etxepare Basque Institute.

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