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Passport pages 16 and 17. Jon Rawlinson/Creative Commons
Passport pages 16 and 17. Jon Rawlinson/Creative Commons

Tunisian Pavilion to Spotlight the Migration Crisis at the 2017 Venice Biennale

Picture of Rachel Gould
Art & Design Editor
Updated: 7 April 2017

After a 50 year hiatus, Tunisia will be present at the 2017 Venice Biennale to spotlight a contemporary urgency—the migration crisis—through art. In the 57th edition of the Venice Biennale, the Tunisian Pavilion will examine themes of migration and movement across the city.

In partnership with the Tunisian Ministry of Cultural Affairs, Tunisia will be present at the Venice Biennale for the first time since 1958. But while the Venice Biennale is typically comprised of national pavilions, Tunisia will be “forgoing the cloak of nationalism in favor of a more global and humanistic narrative,” curator Lina Lazaar tells The Art Newspaper. This year, the Tunisian Pavilion will serve as a haven of international neutrality.

Tunisian nationals will be issuing “travel documents” printed by a legitimate company to visitors at three sites across Venice: the Sale d’Armi building inside the Arsenale, a historic naval checkpoint once used for access to the Arsenale shipyard, and a 19th-century “municipal kiosk” at Via Garibaldi between the Arsenale and the Giardini to create what Lazaar calls a “triangular pavilion.” She also notes that two of these three locations are purposefully outside the Biennale’s “official perimeter,” mimicking national boundaries and highlighting the complications and absurdities associated with ‘nationality.’

On April 10, a supporting online initiative will launch to showcase photographs, texts, films, sound bytes, and recipes from intellectuals all over the world. “The idea is to showcase as many perspectives as possible, with the underlying theme that we are all human, and thus, all migrants,” Lazaar explains.