Cathy Wilkes, the Glasgow-based conjurer of intimate, tender, almost spectral tableaux of mannequins, worn fabric, and peculiar bits of detritus, has been picked to represent Great Britain at the 2019 Venice Biennale.
Zoe Whitley, curator of international art at Tate Modern in London, will curate the presentation, which will open next year on May 11 and run through November 24.
Emma Dexter, the British Council’s director visual arts, said, “Cathy Wilkes’s distinctive and highly personal sculptural installations, evoking the rituals of daily life while alluding to existential questions at the core of human existence, will trigger complex new meanings and atmospherics within the grand domestic architecture of the British Pavilion. I am in no doubt that her exhibition will be a unique and powerful contribution to the Biennale Arte 2019.”
Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in 1966, Wilkes has had one-person shows at the Museum Abteiberg in Mönchengladbach, Germany (in 2015), Tate Liverpool (2015), the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago (2012), and the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh (2011). Earlier this year she had a solo exhibition showcasing nearly 15 years of her art at MoMA PS1 in New York, and it ranked as one of the highlights of the season.
The selection committee for the pavilion numbered nine: Hugh Mulholland, senior curator at the Mac, in Belfast; Fiona Bradley, the director of the Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh; Sarah Munro, the director of the Baltic Centre of Contemporary Art in Gateshead, England; David A. Bailey, the director of the International Curators Forum; Joe Scotland, director of Studio Voltaire in London; Katy Freer, exhibitions officer, at the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, in Swansea, Wales; Anne Barlow, artistic director, of Tate St Ives; writer and curator Martin Herbert; and Melanie Keen, director of Iniva in London.
Recent artists to represent Great Britain at the big show include Phyllida Barlow (2017), Sarah Lucas (2015), Jeremy Deller (2013), and Mike Nelson (2011).