The next Venice Biennale—also known as the Art Olympics—won’t begin until May of 2019, but news of the chosen artists has been steadily trickling in over the past few months. Before the art world officially disbands for the summer, we’ve assembled a list of the individuals and collectives who’ve signed on to show at the event’s many national pavilions. (Next year’s central exhibition will be curated by Ralph Rugoff, the director of London’s Hayward Gallery.) One early trend we’re seeing is an uptick in the number of female artists, including Turner Prize winner Laure Prouvost, who will represent France, Cathy Wilkes representing Ireland, and Renate Bertlmann for Austria.
We’ll keep updating this list as more information becomes available, so keep checking back.
ARTIST: Angelica Mesiti
CURATOR: Juliana Engberg
WHAT THE ORGANIZERS SAY: “Since her early work with performance collective The King Pins, Angelica has developed a sophisticated solo practice characterized by large-scale video works. She is known for using cinematic languages and performance to explore deeply personal stories of the individual and the collective, grappling with the complex dimensions of human experience.”
FUN FACT: To create one of her best-known videos, , Mesiti traveled to the far reaches of Turkey, Greece, and the Canary Islands to document an ancient whistling language that was once used to communicate across large expanses.
ARTIST: Renate Bertlmann
CURATOR: Felicitas Thun-Hohenstein
WHAT THE ORGANIZERS SAY: “The Austrian contribution for 2019 shall again be a starting point for a lively, internationally oriented discussion and certainly will clearly underline the worldwide presence and importance of Austria’s arts and culture.”
FUN FACT: Bertlmann’s performance in which she dressed up as a pregnant bride and asked onlookers to donate to the upkeep of an important relic, which turned out to be a sculpture of a dildo—was censored by the Centre Pompidou in 1979.
ARTIST(S): Inuit artist collective Isuma, led by filmmakers Zacharias Kunuk and Norman Cohn
CURATORS: Asinnajaq, Catherine Crowston, Barbara Fischer, Candice Hopkins, and Josée Drouin-Brisebois
WHAT THE ORGANIZERS SAY: “Isuma’s participation in Venice also marks the first presentation of art by Inuit [artists] in the Canada Pavilion. I am convinced that the international art world will be inspired by the insights that Kunuk and Cohn’s collaborative work will elicit at the next Venice Biennale.”
FUN FACT: The word “Isuma” means “to think, or a state of thoughtfulness” in Inuktitut. The group, founded in 1990, is Canada’s first Inuit video production company.
ARTIST: Kris Lemsalu
WHAT THE ORGANIZERS SAY: “The jury was convinced by Lemsalu’s deep sense of place and her intention to create a whole piece of work from the pavilion area and its context.”
FUN FACT: During the 2015 edition of Frieze New York, Lemsalu memorably lay under a massive ceramic turtle shell at the booth of Temnikova & Kasela Gallery for up to four hours at a time.
ARTIST(S): Miracle Workers Collective
CURATOR: Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung
WHAT THE ORGANIZERS SAY: “It is a great honor to work with… [the] collective of intelligent and diligent individuals that make up the Miracle Workers Collective in order to re-imagine the Finnish pavilion in Venice as a space of encounters and discourses, a space of negotiation and reconciliation, a space for frictions and rehabilitation, a space in which aesthetics and ethics co-exist.”
FUN FACT: The collective includes a broad range of creatives, including writer and filmmaker Hassan Blasim, choreographer Sonya Lindfors, artist and musician Leena Pukki, artist and activist Martta Tuomaala, cinematographer Christopher L Thomas, and storyteller Suvi West.
ARTIST(S): Laure Prouvost
WHAT THE ORGANIZERS SAY: Her international career is “a reflection of the dynamism of the French art scene.”
FUN FACT: Prouvost is the third female artist to represent France on her own, following Annette Messager in 2005 and Sophie Calle in 2007.
CURATOR: Franciska Zólyom
WHAT THE ORGANIZERS SAY: Zólyom is an “outstanding curator who, given her achievements to date and her involvement in artistic co-production and thus in a pro-European understanding of art, transcends national borders.”
FUN FACT: Although Zólyom has not yet announced Germany’s chosen artists, the curator, who has led Leipzig’s Museum for Contemporary Art (Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst) since 2012, previously said that “when I learned that I was selected for this task by the Foreign Office’s art committee, I had about five ideas per minute.”
ARTIST: Cathy Wilkes
CURATOR: Zoe Whitley
WHAT THE ORGANIZERS SAY: Cathy Wilkes “has built a considerable reputation for sculptural installations of profound and mysterious intensity, which often evoke interiors and places of loss.”
FUN FACT: Wilkes’s melancholic sculptures, which were the subject of an exhibition at MoMA PS1 last year, bring together humble materials ranging from worn sheets to a tea-ringed saucer to a rotting jar of jam.
ARTIST(S): Shirley Tse
CURATOR: Christina Li
WHAT THE ORGANIZERS SAY: “Together, M+ and HKADC continue to make important contributions to the global visibility and resonance of Hong Kong artists and curators, and deepen our commitment to the arts in Hong Kong. Moreover, I am particularly pleased with the selection of a female artist to represent Hong Kong in Venice in 2019.”
FUN FACT: Tse spent much of her career working only with “synthetic polymer,” or plastic, materials. “I really wanted to address what kind of world we live in and I think that objects such as Styrofoam, or bubble wrap, have a huge significance in our world, because they are objects that are used in transportation, packing, as well as many other ways in the 21st century,” she has said.
ARTIST: Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir / Shoplifter
CURATOR: Birta Guðjónsdóttir
WHAT THE ORGANIZERS SAY: Shoplifter was chosen out of 17 entrants, and upon receiving the designation she told the Icelandic Art Centre: “I’m going to make it so that when you enter the pavilion, a large space, you’ll never see the inside of the building. You’ll be surrounded by hair, it’s going to be a cave of hair stalactites.”
FUN FACT: The artist known as Shoplifter uses fluorescent hair to build sculptures and installations that look a bit like magical, day-glo fungus. She also created the mask of hair that Björk sports on the cover of the album “Medúlla.”
VENUE: Arsenale, Artiglierie
ARTIST(S): Eva Rothschild
CURATOR: Mary Cremin
WHAT THE ORGANIZERS SAY: “The Venice Biennale serves as a global showcase for artists and offers a prominent platform for Eva Rothchild as the selected Irish artist to engage with international audiences, curators, and gallerists and increase international opportunities and awareness of our strong visual arts sector.”
FUN FACT: Inspired by the language of Minimalism, Rothschild creates sculptures and tableaux that play with proportion and shape. “The ideal way to look at art is to be permanently confused,” she has said.
ARTIST(S): Nida Art Colony (Lina Lapelyte, Vaiva Grainyte, and Rugile Barzdžiukaite)
CURATOR: Lucia Pietroiusti
FUN FACT: For its contribution to the biennale, the collective will perform , an opera in which the performers sit and sing on a crowded, lifelike beach created indoors as viewers watch from above.
ARTIST: Marco Godinho
WHAT THE ORGANIZERS SAY: Godinho’s representation of Luxembourg will lead to an “ambitious and unprecedented artistic project and widen his artistic field in the years to come.”
FUN FACT: Godinho’s work often touches on themes of immigration, including his 2012 installation . He used a bureaucratic stamp to print the titular phrase across a wall over and over, creating cloudlike forms.
ARTIST(S): Remy Jungerman and Iris Kensmil with works by Stanley Brouwn
CURATOR: Benno Temple
WHAT THE ORGANIZERS SAY: “The three artists that will be presented have adopted an alternative approach towards identity and what binds us…They embrace being in flux. This seems not only a fruitful attitude for artists but also an example for a new approach to the discussions that currently dominates our society.”
FUN FACT: Jungerman will create new work that fuses the modernism of De Stijl with the history of Suriname, while Kensmil will create portraits of black utopians through a collaboration with the Black Archives, an archive dedicated to the history of black Dutch people.
ARTIST(S): Dane Mitchell
CURATOR: Zara Stanhope and Chris Sharp
WHAT THE ORGANIZERS SAY: “Dane’s response to ‘space’ will push the boundaries of what’s expected of an exhibition at the Biennale Arte—continuing New Zealand’s legacy of being an innovative country with a great diversity of arts practice.”
FUN FACT: Mitchell attracted controversy in 2009 when he won a $15,000 art award for , an installation that comprised nothing but the discarded packaging from the other works submitted to the competition.
ARTIST(S): Charlotte Prodger
CURATOR: Linsey Young with Cove Park
WHAT THE ORGANIZERS SAY: “Charlotte is a remarkable artist who is making important and compelling work that resonates with audiences nationally and internationally.”
FUN FACT: Prodger, whose films meditate on identity, history, landscape, and queerness, shoots much of her footage on an iPhone.
ARTIST: Marko Peljhan
CURATOR: Igor Španjol
FUN FACT: Peljhan’s work fusing art and science is so advanced that we think the best way to give you a taste is to quote directly from his official bio: “Marko has also been the flight director of ten parabolic experimental flights in collaboration with the Microgravity Interdisciplinary Research initiative and the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre, creating conditions for artists to work in alternating gravity conditions.”
ARTIST(S): Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz
CURATOR: Charlotte Laubard
WHAT THE ORGANIZERS SAY: “Challenging notions of gender, Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz question the norms that govern our representations and our life in society. What lends their work such force is that it moves beyond mere criticism or deconstruction.”
FUN FACT: The duo, a favorite of the biennale circuit, often revisit and reconsider historical moments in their films. In a recent project on view on the High Line, , the musician Aérea Negrot performs John Cage’s score in the center of Oranienplatz in Berlin, which was home to a refugee protest camp from 2012 to 2014.
ARTIST(S): İnci Eviner
CURATOR: Zeynep Öz
WHAT THE ORGANIZERS SAY: “Eviner explores the formation of subjectivity, and her work touches on the workings of power and the politics of representation, especially with regards to the female body. The complex set of relations that Eviner forms between video technologies and painting tradition proposes a different kind of perception.”
FUN FACT: In her 2009 film , Eviner, one of Turkey’s most influential artists, took inspiration from 19th-century engravings by a German artist who was invited by Sultan Selim the Third to chronicle the court of Constantinople. Eviner replaced the original figures with animations of women performing repetitive, mundane tasks.