The Bahamas At The Venice Biennale

Marinel Valentini

The Bahamas is one of ten countries participating for the first time in the 2013 International Art Exhibition at the Venice Biennale (1 June – 24 November, 2013). Tavares Strachan, along with co-curators Jean Crutchfield and Robert Hobbs, will transform the Bahamian pavilion into a unique multi-sensory environment with video, sound and neon-light work. Designed around the theme Polar Eclipse, the exhibition will explores the feelings of displacement and belonging.
Tavares Strachan, You Belong Here (Installation view), DVIR Gallery, 2012,
Strachan has stated: ‘I’m fascinated by the idea of being in two or more places at once, and exploring difference that way… The way that the Venice Biennale, historically and now, deploys the idea of difference as cultural tourism is an interesting problem to work with.’ To explore those themes, Strachan’s exhibit, entitled Polar Eclipse, brings together three sites which are are geographically and culturally distinct: the Venice Arsenale, downtown Nassau and the North Pole. By weakening the nationally-defined model of the Biennale’s National Pavilions, Strachan asks viewers to question their own ideas of displacement from and belonging to a certain place.
The main exhibition space within the Bahamian Pavilion will present itself as a distinct, comprehensive installation, as well as collection of individual art pieces. It will feature a 360-degree video installation, with fourteen monitors playing a documentary of Strachan’s reenactment of the 1909 polar expedition of Peary and Henson, in addition to an audio installation, and three neon light sculptures that focus on the themes of belonging and displacement through a series of statements. Titled Here and Now, the three light sculptures depict the phrases ‘I Belong Here’, ‘You Belong Here’, and ‘We Belong Here’. With this installation, Strachan aims to address the invisible shifts in cultures, physical environments, and recounted histories over space and time, in the wake of globalization and narratives of progress.

Tavares Strachan, born in Nassau, is an ideal choice to represent a country preparing to celebrate 40 years of independence from the United Kingdom (July 10th, 1973). Born and raised in The Bahamas, Strachan has gained international fame thanks to his iconic piece of conceptual art The Distance Between What We Have and What We Want (2006). This artwork consisted of a 4.5 ton block of ice dug out from a frozen river near Mount McKinley, Alaska, then shipped to the sub-tropical Bahamas and exhibited in a see-through freezer powered, paradoxically, by solar panels.

Continuing to integrate science and art, Strachan’s recent project ‘Orthostatic Tolerance’, which refers to the physiological stress that cosmonauts endure while exiting and re-entering the Earth, is an exploratory, multimedia work that follows the artist’s individual experience in cosmonaut training, whilst also exploring the Bahamas’ aeronautic development. His installations were exhibited at MIT List Visual Arts Center, at Grand Arts Gallery in Kansas City, and at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia.
The Bahamas Team

Artist: Tavares Strachan

Commissioner: Nalini Bethel, Senior Director of Communications, The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism.

Curators: Jean Crutchfield and Robert Hobbs

Deputy Curator: Stamatina Gregory

Venue: The Bahamas Pavilion at the Arsenale – Tese Cinquecentesche
About The Culture Trip’s Venice Biennale Project

The 55th International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale will take place from 1 June until 24 November 2013. The Culture Trip’s Venice Biennale Series is an article series leading up to the start of the exhibition. With 88 countries participating in this year’s Biennale,10 of them for the first time, and 150 artists from 37 countries, our coverage over the next couple of months will highlight a selection of the National Pavilions which will be participating. Watch this space for our daily Venice Biennale updates or follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest!
By Marinel Valentini
The 56th Venice Biennale International Art Exhibition runs from 9 May to 22 November 2015, and this year Bahamian artist Lavar Munroe has been selected to display three of his large-scale cut-out canvas, collage and mixed media artworks in the Biennale’s Central Pavilion.

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