Angola and Tino Sehgal Win Golden Lions at 55th Venice Biennale

Venice Biennale first timer Angola was awarded the Golden Lion for best pavilion at the inauguration of the 55th exhibition of international art on Saturday by jury members Jessica Morgan, Sofia Hernández Chong Cuy, Francesco Manacorda, Bisi Silva, and Ali Subotnick. The pavilion features two exhibitions. “Luanda, Encyclopedic City,” for which the Golden Lion was given, features photographer Edson Chagas, while “Angola em Movimento” focuses on painting and sculpture. For the latter, 21 artists participate in total, with particularly prominent positions by Francisco Van-Dúnem, António Ole, Fineza Teta, and Marco Kabenda.

A rather low-key effort in comparison to Susanne Gaensheimer’s Golden Lion winning German Pavilion of Christoph Schlingensief in 2011, the award to Angola follows a general sentiment across the Giardini of high quality but non-stand-out efforts and a much heavier focus on the Arsenale for 2013.

Berlin-based British artist Tino Sehgal was also awarded a Golden Lion as the best artist in Massimiliano Gioni’s much-praised “Encyclopedic Palace.” Within the Central Pavilion at the Giardini, Sehgal presented a performance, which he previewed at the Berlin Philharmonic one month before the biennale in which two individuals hum and beat box whilst engaging in correspondent movements on the floor: a prime example of Sehgal’s brand of elusive yet intimate work that also featured heavily at last year’s dOCUMENTA.

A Silver Lion was awarded to Camille Henrot for her promising piece in the Arsenale. The Paris-based artist who shows with Galerie Kamel Mennour presents a video work at the beginning of the Arsenale that attracted crowds during preview days with its ADHD-like progression through browser and computer program windows that tell the history of the universe.

Previously announced Golden Lions went to 93-year-old painter Maria Lassnig and Arte Povera artist Marisa Metz for their lifetime achievement.

Alexander Forbes

[Image: Camille Henrot, “Grosse Fatigue” (2013), Photo Francesco Galli, courtesy La Biennale di Venezia]