Hi and bye! Kris Lemsalu and the eternal rebirth of the Estonian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale

The artist Kris Lemsalu investigates the creative power of birth and gathers on her “ship” a team of collaborators including performers, a poet and a researcher. 

Padiglione Estonia

“Birth is always an act” are the first words that emerge from the slimy, organic and emotional flow that uninterruptedly exudes from within the work Birth V – Hi and Bye by Kris Lemsalu at the Estonian Pavilion on the island of Giudecca.

The accompanying text is written in the first person plural, to underline how birth never takes place alone. In fact, Lemsalu worked with a team that includes the curator Maria Arusoo, the poet Andrew Berardini, the mentor Sarah Lucas, the researcher Irene Campolmi, her friend/collaborator Tamara Luuk and performers who brought the inaugural ritual to life during the opening of the Biennale. This short list mentions but a few of those who helped to create a work that is both collective and personal.

At the centre of the installation we find a multitude of legs and arms that protrude from a brick column, already present in the space. Birth not only concerns the body, but is something that is hard to translate and convey. It is constant transformation, comparable to the sound of water that flows into the large pools at the foot of the column. Being born always entails maternal labour, the creative force of women, as represented by large ceramic vulvae – elements present in each compositional unit in this exhibition-installation.

The monstrosity is here on display not as the depiction of what lies outside the ordinary, but instead references the original meaning of the word monstrum: a divine sign, a miracle, a warning. Dinosaurs, squid, snails, bacteria, castaways are the beings evoked by the words used to describe the work and by the sound that pervades the room, composed for the occasion by the artist Kyp Malone. Everything comes together and is reborn. Creative disorder is nothing but a new order. Therefore, every birth entails a rebirth (or a second birth), “the one where we invent ourselves”.

Opening picture: Estonian Pavilion. 58th International Art Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia, Photo Giulia Di Lenarda

Kris Lemsalu
Andrew Berardini, Irene Campolmi, Sarah Lucas, Tamara Luuk
58th International Art Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia
Giudecca 211, Venezia
11 May - 24 November 2019

Special Biennale

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