The work of Basque artists Itziar Okariz and Sergio Prego set to open at the Venice Biennale

Euskara. Kultura. Mundura.

2019-05-09

The 58th Venice International Art Exhibition, aka, the Venice Biennale, will open its doors on May 11th. The Spanish Pavillion at one of the most important art shows in the world will host two Basque artists this year: Itziar Okariz and Sergio Prego.

The 58th Venice International Art Exhibition, aka, the Venice Biennale, will open its doors on May 11th. The Spanish Pavillion at one of the most important art shows in the world will host two Basque artists this year: Itziar Okariz and Sergio Prego.

The name of the project for the Pavilion of Spain is Perforated by, curated by Peio Agirre, a combination of the works of both Okariz and Prego. The title was chosen by Agirre himself, named after an idea from The Aesthetic of Silence by writer and philosopher Susan Sontag. The purpose of the project is to empty the space and bodies of the pavilion through art, to perforate them metaphorically. As Agirre puts it, they will make a “disoccupied occupation” in the space. Each artist will take their own work to the gallery, but Prego and Okariz have known each other for years, and both understand and use art in the same way.

Itziar Okariz (San Sebastián, 1965) is taking two of her performance-based works to Venice. One of them, Respiración oceánica (Oceanic Breathing), will require the largest sound installation ever used at the Spanish Pavilion. The project will consist of Okariz herself breathing into a microphone, and extending the sound to all the corners of the hall. The breathing resembles sea waves, and human existence, as it is the first sign of life. Her second work, called Las Estatuas (The Statues), will consist of several video conversations between the artist and different artworks. By talking to them, Okariz will give imbue the artworks with life and subjectivity; one part of the conversation, the part by Okariz, will be heard by the audience, and the other part will depend on imagination. Okariz will use different sculptures for this project, one of them by Sergio Prego, linking her work to that of her fellow artist.

Sergio Prego (Fuenterrabia, 1969) will exhibit outside the building. His work is based on sculpture: the main pieces are several fountains made of unusual materials. Prego wanted to demonstrate the fluidity of water through this work, as well as the principal of plasticity linked to form, taking this idea to the limit. The project, in turn, suggests new ways of using space and architecture, creating a strange garden with several objects. He completes the fountains with drawings of botanic beings, body organs and other biological and sexual figures.

The Venice Biennale has been held every two years since 1895, and the Spanish Pavilion has been part involved since 1950. The Spanish Agency of International Cooperation for Development (AECID) and Spanish Cultural Action (AC/E) organize the pavilion and select the artists that will represent the country. Sergio Prego and Itziar Okariz are not the first Basque artists to represent Spain in this international exposition; Pepo Salazar, Javier Pérez and Ana Laura Aláez have done so previously.

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