From One Citizen You Gather an Idea

Mauritius - Biennale Arte 2015

National Pavilion of the Republic of Mauritius at the Venice Biennale, 56th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia (first official participation)

Here the citizen does the talking about the country himself; the stranger is not asked to help. You get all sorts of information. From one citizen you gather the idea that Mauritius was made first, and then heaven; and that heaven was copied after Mauritius. Another one tells you that this is an exaggeration…

[Mark Twain, Following the Equator, 1897]

The first national Pavilion of the Republic of Mauritius at the Venice Art Biennial, 9th May - 22nd November 2015, is based on a dialogue between Mauritian and European artists. Mauritius is a fusion of cultures, languages and ethnicities, with its population made of Indian, African, Chinese and European descendants; the co-presence of temples, churches and mosques in every town of this island nation reveals this diversity.

Virtually uninhabited until the end of the 16th century, the island was then ruled by the Dutch, French and British, before gaining independence in 1968. The newly born state has managed to maintain close ties with their former rulers, and also to establish an economic relationship with the USSR. Since 2000 the Ibrahim Index of African Governance has consistently rated Mauritius as the best-governed African nation in terms of safety, economic development and human rights.

However in art and culture, different sets of assessments apply; there is a short distance to questioning the value and relevance of the contemporary art output of a region in relation to the global artworld.

Commissioner: pARTage

Curators: OfRR: Alfredo Cramerotti & Olga Jürgenson

Participants: Alix Le Juge, Bik Van Der Pol, Djuneid Dulloo, Helge Leiberg, Kavinash Thomoo, Krishna Luchoomun, Neermala Luckeenarain, Nirmal Hurry, Olga Jürgenson, Römer + Römer, Sultana Haukim, Tania Antoshina, Vitaly Pushnitsky

Project advisers:

Alessio Antoniolli, Maria Arusoo, Pamela Auchincloss, Giorgia Mis, Dimitri Ozerkov, Georg Schöllhammer, Joanna Sokołowska, Olesya Turkina, Gabriella Uhl

Thanks to:
Fariba Derakhshani, Cédric Rabeyrolles Destailleur, Chris Hammond, Jean-Luc Maslin, Julie Penfold, Veronika Poptsova, Alice Pedroletti, John Prime, Aleksandra Smirnova, Maria Starkova-Vindman, Robert Vallois, Nicola Wright, Eduard Piel

With the support of:
Mondriaan Fund
Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Development
Galerie Vallois

Kavinash Thomoo
...again and again

Kavinash Thomoo, ...again and again, 2014, video projection

References the cyclical nature of samsara—a term for the unrelenting processes of creation, destruction, and regeneration expounded by metaphysical philosophies in Hinduism.

The work demands an appreciation of process as well as the need to find beauty in destruction and the destroyed. ‘...again and again’ consists of painting, photography, and video, referring to the universe as a constant play of names and forms where destruction is neither negative nor an act of personal revolt.

Tania Antoshina
Quantum Leap

Tania Antoshina, Quantum Leap, 2015, Wood and upholstery fabrics, wool carpet, clock with a glass, 350 x 200 x 200 cm

We habitually tune our gaze in a certain way according to our notions. Yet, stereotypes involved in the perception of an object change in the course of history, and in this sense we can speak of a change in the object itself.

But will the object be the same still if we turn away from it for a moment and then glance at it again? And what about the moment when your eyes move away?

Nirmal Hurry
A Love Story Since 1982

Nirmal Hurry A Love Story since 1982. Papier-mâché, sequins, 120cm x120cm

In the name of convenience and egotism, masquerading as altruism, we allow the perpetuation of a series of matings and separations, immoral couplings that are self-serving and benefit only the parasites of the system.

Bik Van Der Pol
Little Liars

Bik Van der Pol, Little Liars (collection from Kiev, models 1-9), 2006/2007, Series of bronze casts from one-channel radios found in Kiev, Ukraine, dimensions variable (detail)

Little Liars was the (nick)name of Soviet radio receivers that would only receive a single frequency. A part of every household, these radios had to be on all day and were the only source of information, as the media was state controlled.

The artist investigated how the events following the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl implanted themselves in the private and public life of the citizens in Ukraine. The casting process caused the original radios to disappear and turn into bronze, a material that is traditionally used to cast monuments and public sculptures.

Alix Le Juge
Infinity VII

Alix Le Juge, Infinity VII, Oil on canvas, 140mm x 125mm

Infinity is a moment of tranquility in an ever accelerating world of the ephemeral.

Within the dynamism of change and movement and one of constant connection,there is the need for a moment of nothingness—a moment suspended in time. Without ignoring the reality of life, my work is metaphysical in its striving to find an inner peace and well-being.


Römer + Römer, Fusionistas, 2015, Oil on canvas, 100 x 300 cm

On a former soviet military airport, not far from Berlin, the festival Fusion has taken place every summer since the middle of the 90s. The airplane hangars are transformed into stages and the party people can walk, dance, or chill on them.

This painting is part of a cycle that reflects temporary social communities, which are building, for a defined time, a special kind of society with its own rules. In the case of the ‘hedonistic’ Fusion festival, a sociologist called it “Vacation Communism”.

Krishna Luchoomun
From Birth to Death

Krishna Luchoomun, From Birth to Death, 2002, Installation with clothes, rope, laundry basin, 1000 cm

Clothes, as a second skin, reveal a lot about ones personality, social status, tradition, and culture. Based on the life of my mother, I use clothes as a metaphor to trace the different stages of a Hindu woman’s life path from birth through childhood, youth, and adulthood ‘til death.

This is the story of thousands of women worldwide who live a life on the wire. From birth to death their role is pre-determined, often with no choice but to play the different roles imposed by men.

Olga Jürgenson
Washing Line

Olga Jürgenson, Washing Line, Installation, 2015, Oil on canvas, 2 blank stretched canvases, pieces of melamine board, 160 x 300 cm

Olga Jürgenson’s work is a personal comment on Krishna Luchoomun’s ‘From Birth To Death’ and is based on a photograph from her archive, which she took in Venice in 2013 featuring a washing line above the flat she rented in Castello.

On reflection it is clear that despite Olga's relatively traditional upbringing she had the opportunity, and will, to make major choices in her life, including wether to have or not to have children.

Neermala Luckeenarain
Back to the Family

Back to the Family, 2011, Linocut, woodcut, silkscreen, thread chine collé, 200cm x 79 cm/78¾ x 31cm

A family is a rich unit full of love, affection, understanding, and interaction that is vital to our wellbeing and work.

It is very difficult to come back to that source once we move away—many people get dispersed, lost, and their feeling of unity disappears. One should not forget the culture he or she cultivates within such an environment.

Vitaly Pushnitsky

Vitaly Pushnitsky, Waiting, 2015, Oil on canvas, paper, wood, metal fittings, 200 x 300 x 220 cm

We are all in a state of waiting, be it for the weather, a person, or death. What is common to all is that we are here but something important has not happened yet. It is a psychological state of hope, dread, and anticipation as well as simultaneously existing in three times – past, present, and future, plus the reality of continuing time.

Painting offers the possibility to capture different states, dynamics, and conditions as well as reflections and ex-planations with absolute clarity

Djuneid Dulloo
Let There Be Love

Djuneid Duloo, Let There Be Love, Let There Be Blood, 2013, Mixed media on canvas, 150 x 300 cm

Based upon the only surviving drawing of the artist at age thirteen, the Palace of Memories (a.k.a Let there be love...) is a painted polyglottic translation published 17 years later as a 300 minute performance to Gonzales’ Solo Piano. Compared to the original childhood drawing, the remixed adaptation is an orgy of post-creole diagram alphabets with memory fragments of fragrances.

The work projects a reverse image of all that has been left behind, not to be regained for generations except in memory or imagination

Helge Leiberg

Helge Leiberg, Geschraubt, 2012, Bronze, 305 x 70 x 70 cm

Through the aesthetics of the dance gesture, the artist offers an invitation to ponder on the ambivalent attitude of devotion and repudiation.

Sultana Haukim

Sultana Haukim, Home, 2011, Installation with birds' nests, wire and glue, 120 cm diameter

Symbol of warmth, protection, and love but also of fragility; birds’ nests are used to depict our fragile habitat, planet Earth. This fragility is accentuated mostly by our own actions: war, pollution, and over exploitation of natural resources.

This work comments on the increasing inequalities dividing the world with borders into advanced societies, developing and third worlds, thus driving many to migrate using any possible means at the risk of their lives for the quest of a better and safer home.

Credits: Story

Texts: OfRR: Alfredo Cramerotti & Olga Jürgenson (curators), artists
Photos: Alice Pedroletti, Olga Jürgenson, artists
Exhibit editing: Olga Jürgenson
Text editing: John Prime

Credits: All media
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