Venice, Italy
13 May to 26 November 2017

Throughout the years and decades, the International Art Biennale in Venice has remained a landmark event that attracts the art world and sets the pulse and the tone of its era. Through the exceptional visibility that it offers, it also remains the artistic convention which either confirms or enhances the international scope of an artist’s career or the potential of his or her work. We are delighted that for its 57th edition the Biennale has opted for a French president, Christine Macel, curator of the National Museum of Modern Art – Centre Pompidou. It is an excellent choice, given that she oversaw Anri Sala Ravel’s project, Ravel, Ravel, Unravel, for the French pavilion of this same Biennale in 2013. This ensures that in 2017 homage will be doubly paid to France in Venice.

For the French pavilion transformed into an immersive environment, Xavier Veilhan, alongside the curator Lionel Bovier and the artist Christian Marclay, will offer us a hybrid work, where different disciplines and media will interact and react to one another. The space simultaneously evokes a recording studio and an atypical site where constructivist and musical references are combined. As a complete installation, the pavilion becomes both an autonomous sculpture and a laboratory: a place that will welcome numerous creators with various artistic backgrounds, mainly from the world of music. These artists, originating from Venice, France and beyond, will bring the pavilion to life during the 173 days of the Biennale, through their presence and their work. The pavilion has been conceived as a journey to the heart of this environment, but also as a space open to the public, to artists and to music, where daily encounters will shape the life of the pavilion. With this project, Xavier Veilhan envisages the exhibition not only as a form of exploration but as a moment in time fueled by sound and musical vibrations – thus a work that is constantly evolving. Inspired by this dynamic of openness and experimentation, Xavier Veilhan’s project seeks to be both visible and audible. That is why, since its inception, the work has also made ample room for new technologies. Thanks to a digital application, anyone in the world will be able to follow the pavilion’s artistic and musical activity. More than a simple exhibition, it is ultimately a space for freedom, for new encounters and for propagation which puts the artist at its heart, thus aligning with Christine Macel’s statement regarding the importance of the artist’s place in our contemporary world.

For the International Biennale Exhibition in Venice in 2017, the title of which – Viva Arte Viva – already rings out like a manifesto, Christine Macel has developed a project “with artists, by artists and for artists”. In today’s contemporary world, with its trials and uncertainties, the goal is for art to remain “the most precious part of human beings (…), the ideal place for reflection, individual expression, freedom and the posing of 5 Studio Venezia Xavier Veilhan Curators Lionel Bovier and Christian Marclay French pavilion Biennale Arte 2017 fundamental questions”. Over a hundred artists are participating in this exhibition, among them numerous French creators or ones living in France and on the African continent. The Institut français is proud to support them in this crucial moment of recognition that the International Art Biennale in Venice represents.

Xavier Veilhan, born in 1963 and currently living and working in Paris, studied successively at the École Nationale Supérieure des Art Décoratifs in Paris (1982-1983), the Hochschule der Künste (Art University) in Berlin (under Georg Baselitz) and the Centre Pompidou’s Institut des Hautes Etudes en Arts Plastiques (1989-1990), run by Pontus Hultén.

Since the mid-1980s he has created an acclaimed body of works (sculpture, painting, installation, performance, video and photography) definned by his interest in both the vocabulary of modernity and classical statuary. His work pays tribute to the inventions and inventors of modernity, through a formal artistic language that mixes the codes of both industry and art.

He has a long-standing interest in the often-evolving exhibition space in which the visitor becomes an actor. He nourishes his material research with regular musical collaborations with artists like the band Air, musician Sébastien Tellier or pioneer composer Eliane Radigue.

In 2009, he sets up the exhibition Veilhan Versailles in the Palace and gardens of Versailles. Between 2012 and 2014, he develops Architectones, a series of interventions in seven major modernist buildings around the world. His interest for architecture was taken to a new level in 2014 when he designed the château de Rentilly. In 2015 he directs two films that extend these spatial explorations: Vent Moderne (La Villette, Paris) and Matching Numbers (3e Scene, Opéra national de Paris).

A regular when it comes to projects in the public space, Xavier Veilhan has installed sculptures in various cities in France and abroad (Bordeaux, Tours, Lyon, New York, Séoul).

Image: © Photo Diane Arques / Adagp, Paris