The Center for Contemporary Arts, Estonia revealed today that Kris Lemsalu will represent Estonia at the 2019 Venice Biennale, which runs from May 11 to November 24.
Alongside the announcement of Lemsalu’s participation came news that that the Estonian Pavilion will be located on the island of Giudecca, where it will be housed in an industrial building. (Iceland, Kenya, and Portugal were among those who had their pavilions on the island during the Biennale’s 2017 edition.)
Lemsalu’s work typically combines ceramic sculptures and performance elements, and sometimes obliquely gestures at post-apocalyptic sci-fi worlds. Her most audacious outing to date may have been at the 2015 edition of the Frieze New York fair, where she appeared at the booth of the Temnikova & Kasela gallery lying face-down beneath an oversized faux turtle shell for a four-hour performance. Lemsalu, who is based in Tallinn, also recently participated in the 2017 edition of Performa.
Her Venice Biennale project will be titled “FUNTAIN,” and will move away from some of the fatalistic themes she’s explored in past works. In a statement, Lemsalu said she would avoid dealing with death this time. “Although it may be naive to think that I’ll just get rid of this topic, I will at least make the viewer laugh,” she said. Musicians will be involved, and viewers will be invited to participate in what a release described as a hybrid “real and fairy-tale fantasy world.”
Krist Gruijthuijsen, the director of the KW Institute for Contemporary Art, led the jury that selected Lemsalu to participate. The official announcement noted that “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.”