The Biennale Arte in Venice is the most extensive international exhibition of visual art and, at the same time, a living space in which to engage actively with the current international art discourse. Jakob Lena Knebl and Ashley Hans Scheirl represent the Austrian Pavilion at the 59th Art Biennale in Venice with artefacts from a range of different disciplines: painting, photography, stage design, fashion, sculpture, and performance. The Pavilion curated by Karola Kraus is transformed into an inviting, ‘heterotopian’ space, where visitors are able to gain insights into the artistic cosmos of the duo in an extensive and easily accessible supporting programme.
Jakob Lena Knebl and Ashley Hans Scheirl work on solo projects and as an artist duo. Most recently, they presented fiery three-dimensional installations at the Lyon Biennale and at Kunsthaus Bregenz. They have been invited to put on a solo show at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris in 2023. The two artists share a deep interest in the ways in which identities are constructed and deconstructed. Their artistic work calls into question the identities of media, styles, disciplines, and gender constructs, which are set in motion, hybridized and transformed through trans- operations.
For the Biennale Arte in Venice the two artists designed installation settings “Invitation of the Soft Machine and Her Angry Body Parts” pervaded by their entire artistic cosmos — from paintings, sculptures and photos to textile works, writings and videos and on to a fashion collection and a publication in the form of a magazine. Knebl and Scheirl playfully and humorously make various facets of contemporary body discourses resonate. They transform the Austrian Pavilion into an open stage that invites the audience to explore the ‘spaces of desire’ staged by the Viennese artists.
These spaces run counter to conventional ideas of museum presentations and undermine the hierarchies of art and design, of high and low. They analyse the operations of the mechanism that becomes the co-producer of identity constructions as well as the role of desire and sensual experience in them.
Knebl and Scheirl set the scene for relevant issues of our times in a highly exciting and surprising way. Themes related to societal identity, artistic expression and formal stringency are addressed in a self-reflecting, open-minded and extremely humorous fashion.
In all this, the artists don’t want us to see their work as indoctrinations but rather as joyous sensory invitations to join them in their journey to utopian spheres, thus making alternatives imaginable. Devoid of any sense of morally didactic superiority, their approach creates three-dimensional multimedia installations that extend well into both everyday life and the virtual space.
For the first time, the Austrian Pavilion in Venice will also be present in Vienna throughout the summer with a presentation in the new exhibition space of Phileas. On 6 May 2022 it opened a public showroom in Vienna – on the ground floor of a historical building at Opernring 17. The exhibition showcases the work of Knebl and Scheirl alongside that of their students at the University of Applied Arts (Transmedia Art class) and the Academy of Fine Arts (Contextual Painting class). The exhibition of the students’ works, selected and installed by Knebl and Scheirl, will be rotated several times during the exhibition’s run, in keeping with the collaborative strategy pursued by the artists for their project in Venice. You will find more here.
One of the most important art event of the year Biennale Arte 2022 is on view until November 27, 2022.