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Alexander PonomarevMay 9 - November 22, 2015


Antarctic Pavilion

56th Venice Biennale of Art

Fondaco Marcello, Calle dei Garzoni,

Grand Canal

May 9 – November 22 2015

Following the critical success of the Antarctic Pavilion’s inaugural exhibition at the 14th Architecture Biennale – a major installation by the celebrated Russian artist Alexander Ponomarev.

Artist: Alexander Ponomarev

Curator: Nadim Samman

Concordia is the Latin word for ‘harmony’, which refers to the Roman goddess of agreement and peace – the personification of concord; a treaty or pact. It is also name basis of the Costa Concordia, a mega cruise liner that was wrecked off the coast of Isola del Giglio, Italy, in 2012 after a catastrophic blunder by its captain Francesca Schettino – who abandoned ship before the safe evacuation of his 3229 passengers.

For the 56th Venice Biennale of Art, Alexander Ponomarev’s installation deploys the Costa Concordia disaster – specifically, the broken pact between captain Schettino and his passengers – as a provocative lens through which to view the fragility of the 1959 Antarctic Treaty. This agreement suspended military activity and sovereign claims on the continent’s territory, limiting human activity there to the pursuit of peaceful scientific endeavor. As the global struggle for resources intensifies, the future of this treaty is in peril. In Ponomarev’s sculptural intervention a scale model of the grounded Concordia, tilting like a tipped iceberg or perhaps a shift in the polar axis itself, stands as an image of terrestrial re-orientation: A new worldview. Elsewhere in the exhibition, fire invokes a notorious act of arson by a staff doctor from the Argentinean Almirante Brown station, who burnt his base to the ground when the setting sun announced the onset of winter.

Further works on show are based on the artist’s recent expedition to the (Russian Orthodox) Trinity Church of Antarctica – along with the Pavilion’s curator and exhibition team – wherein the whole expedition party received marriage sacraments from the southern continent’s only resident monk. In addition to its invoking of paradigmatic disasters, Concordia is a meditation on community, responsibility, security and the strength of the ties that bind us together amid shifting personal and political landscapes.

Concordia features a scale model of the Costa Concordia and works across a variety of media, including video and works on paper.

Thе Antarctic Pavilion is a long-term project whose status as a ‘[trans]National Pavilion’ constitutes a polemical engagement with the Biennale’s nationally over-determined structure: a quasi-institutional claim to represent a transnational community, out of line with the festival’s politics of territorial representation. Its program is inspired by the vision of Antarctica as a cultural space. Its projects are testaments to the Antarctic community that would yet know itself – and the continent – in ways transcending national-scientific missions.

The Antarctic Pavilion is a European interface platform for The Antarctic Biennale, to be held in Antarctica – also devised and implemented by artist Alexander Ponomarev, and curated by Nadim Samman. The Antarctic Biennale will take place in 2016 aboard international research vessels. The Antarctic Biennale is conceived as a cultural exchange between artists and the continent’s scientists and support staff.

Read more here: CONCORDIA

In Situ

Featured Artist

Alexander Ponomarev (b. 1957) is a Russian artist who lives and works in Moscow. A nautical engineer and a practiced submariner, Ponomarev uses experiences obtained from his travels to the depths of oceans and across arctic terrains as a lens through...

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