2019 Venice Biennale News

Kazakhstan’s Venice Biennale Pavilion Canceled

Nursultan, formerly known as Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan.

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Kazakhstan had been slated to present its inaugural pavilion at this year’s Venice Biennale, which opens in May. But as of today, it has been reported that the pavilion is officially canceled. According to the Art Newspaper, the cancellation comes on the heels of the Kazakhstan pavilion’s curators being informed via a press statement shared on Facebook by the commissioning body that their “services were no longer required” due to budget cuts. The news comes during a period of tumult in the country: the nation’s president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, resigned unexpectedly after nearly 30 years in office, amid protests.

The pavilion had been commissioned by the National Museum of Kazakhstan, and Roza Abenova, the museum’s head of contemporary art, and Nadim Samman, who organized the 2012 Marrakech Biennale, were originally slated to curate it. Abenova has since resigned from her post at the museum, and Samman claims that he is still awaiting payment from the museum for the curatorial work he’s done for the pavilion since he was appointed in October.

Another team of curators purporting to be the official organizers of the Kazakhstan pavilion had initially been listed on the Venice Biennale’s website. Since the announcement of the cancellation, though, Kazakhstan has been removed from the site, and its participation appears to be off.

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