The Artists Pavilion: 2017


Commission by a mid-career artist for new work at the 2017 Venice Biennale


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The Artists Pavilion (10-13 May 2017) showed the newly commissioned work, Speak Robert by Italian-born London based artist Laura Malacart. Speak Robert developed a lecture/discussion led by the question ‘What do Victorian botanist Robert Fortune and film star Matt Damon have in common?’. The lecture was articulated via objects, props and sculptures, each of which operated as a prompt to a cyclical narrative from the perspective of history and global trade.

Malacart’s collaborative and interdisciplinary work is concerned with language and the politics of the voice. Her practice engages with a range of media, including participatory performance, writing and video. These strategies explore contemporary issues concerning identities in a globalised post-colonial world. They conceive the speaking and listening subject, their positioning and idiom, crucial to define a historical and ideological perspective or its absence.

The Artists Pavilion was curated by Camilla Palestra and is accompanied by a programme of talks and events addressing issues of cultural identity within a global economy, dislocation and language.

As part of our commitment to supporting students and graduates in gaining experience of the art sector, the events programme was curated in collaboration with students from the University of the Arts London (Annie-Marie Akussah, Riah Charles, Rachel Hinman, Ciara McNeill, Josh Simpson.) This aspect of the project was funded as part of a Careers and Employability programme at the University, which aims to promote equality on grounds of ethnicity, disability and social class, funded through Widening Participation.

Public Programme:

Opening drinks reception – 10 May 2017

To mark the opening of the project artist Laura Malacart was in conversation with curator Gabi Scardi to discuss ‘Speak Robert’ and the wider themes of her practice.

Sign language workshop – 11 May 2017

A workshop with Gabriele Caia and Laura Volpato, University of Venice Ca’ Foscari. Participants were introduced to sign language, learning to use basic skills to interact with each other and becoming aware of language as an identity apparatus.

Programming & invigilation at the Venice Biennale: a professional development experience – 12 May 2017

Students from University of the Arts London talked about their experiences of invigilation and developing a public programme in response to the Artists’ Pavilion commission with colleagues involved in the Invigilator Plus programme for Cymru yn Fenis / Wales in Venice 2017.  This event was run in partnership with Engage.

susan pui san lok – Fortune Cooking – 12 May 2017

A conversation with artist, writer and researcher susan pui san lok on the notion of translation and diaspora


Laura Malacart is an Italian-born artist based in London. Her work has been exhibited in solo exhibitions including 2015 The Little Book of Answers, Turbine Hall, Tate Modern – 2014 YES! Onomatopoeia, project launch and debate, Dana Centre, Science Museum, London – 2013 Three Moments of a Temporary Loss of Perspective, H. Conte Museo de la Memoria, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Recent group exhibitions include 2016 Art Licks – 2015 Emergency, Aspex Gallery, Portsmouth – 2014 Radiofonica, Spazio O, Milan, Italy – 2012 Nuovi Paesaggi, Villa Romana, Florence, Italy  – 2011 – Ethnographic Terminalia, Montrea, Canada – 2010  Futureplaces 2010, Portugal  –  Write! by J. Royse at Posted Gallery, London –  2009  Manifesti d’Artista, public art commission, Trieste, Italy  –  2007  Contemporary Art Projects, London. Close at Hand  – 2006  Lipjane Puntin Gallery, Trieste, Italy. Catodica II – Danielle Arnaud Contemporary, London. Outdoors.  Laura holds a PhD from in Fine Art, Slade School of Fine Art, UCL, London and she has been lecturing in various universities including LCC, London, Univeristy of East London and RCA, London. From 1st June 2017 Laura will be a Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Studies at UCL for a year

Camilla Palestra is a curator based in London. Her curatorial interest lies in artistic practices that reflect on aspects of our contemporary society, in connection to the socio-political environment and its diversity. She is the Associate Curator at the Centre for Sustainable Fashion, University of the Arts London where she curated exhibitions including Voice for Change and Relational Geographies (2015), and the ongoing international artist residency programme Art for the Environment. She collaborates with the studio of Shezad Dawood as curator and editor, working on projects including Leviathan (Venice Biennale 2017), Kalimpong (2016), Black Sun (2013).

Previously she was writer and researcher at SKIRA publishing house, Public Programme Curator at MART Museum, Trento (Italy), and Research Associate at Culture + Conflict.

Gabi Scardi is art critic, curator and writer. Her main field of research covers the practices at the intersection between visual art, anthropology, architecture, design and urban culture. Since 2011 she has been the curator of nctm e l’arte project. She curated the Greek Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale (2015), as well as the restoration of Alberto Burri’s Teatro Continuo, Milan (2015). Scardi was consultant for visual art for the Milan Provincial Authority, and curator at MAXXI, National Museum of XXI Century Arts in Rome. The exhibitions that Scardi curated and co-curated include: Adrian Paci. The Guardians, Chiostri di Sant’Eustorgio, 2017; Paola Di Bello Milano Centro, Museo del Novecento, Milano, 2016; Teatro Continuo. Life on Stage, La Triennale di Milano, 2016; Fashion as Social Energy, Palazzo Morando, Milan (2015); The war which is coming is not the first one, Mart Museum, Rovereto (2014); Roma-Sinti-Kale-Manush, Autograph, London (2012); “Spazio”, MAXXI, Rome, 2010; Aware: Art Fashion Identity, Royal Academy, London (2010); Sythetic Ritual, Prichard Art Gallery, Idaho (2012) and Pitzer Gallery, Pitzer College, Los Angeles (2011); Side Effects, Louisiana Museum, Copenhagen (2011) and Side Effects, Biennale de Lyon (2009); Maria Papadimitriou, Infinto fa rumore, eternità fa silenzio, Fotografia Europea, Reggio Emilia (2009); “Alfredo Jaar, It is Difficult”, Spazio Oberdan and HangarBicocca, Milan (2008) and “Alfredo Jaar, Questions, Questions”, public project, Milan (2008); LESS, Alternative Living Strategies, PAC Padiglione d’arte Contemporanea di Milan, 2006; LESS #1 Alternative Living Strategies, Gwangju Design Biennale, 2006; Lucy and Jorge Orta, Drink Water, Bevilacqua La Masa Fondation, Venice, 2005.

Among her publications: Teatro Continuo di Alberto Burri, ed. Corraini, 2015; Paesaggio con figura: Arte, sfera pubblica, trasformazione sociale, ed. Allemandi & C., 2011.

Gabriele Caia was born in Siracusa, Sicily, in 1976 in a deaf family. After attending High School in the Institute for Deaf A. Magarotto, Padua, he completed simple and master degree at DAMS (University of Bologna), Theatre specialization. He has lived in various Italian cities and he has travelled to numerous European cities, among which Reims, for “Clin D’Oeil” festival of poetry, and in Stockholm, as auditor and speaker in “Arts Deaf Now”. He works in Italy as teacher of Italian sign language (LIS) and LIS trainer. He created and performed various theatre performances, including “Pa-pa”, also available in DVD, and “So, so, so ma vuoto”, dealing with culture and history/education of the Deaf. He also performed in many cabaret and improvisation shows. From 2008 to 2012 Gabriele has taught LIS at SSLMIT, University of Bologna. Since 2011 he has been teaching LIS in Ca’ Foscari University, Venice.

Laura Volpato completed in 2012 a degree in Science of Language – Deafness and Language Disorders; in 2013 she achieved the title of LIS interpreter (Italian Sign Language) and in 2015 she completed her master degree in Science of Language – Foreign Language Teaching. She has worked as a communication assistant for deaf pupils in primary school (2015/16) and she is currently working as an assistant researcher in Ca’ Foscari University, Venice. She has worked as an interpreter since 2014, both for deaf and deafblind people, both from Italian and from English to LIS and viceversa.

susan pui san lok is an artist, writer and researcher based in London. Her work ranges across moving image, installation, sound, performance and text, evolving out of interests in notions of nostalgia and aspiration, place and migration, translation and diaspora. Current and recent projects include Diaspora Pavilion at Palazzo Pisani Santa Marina, Venice, presented by the International Curators Forum; Deviant Practice, a research residency at Van Abbemuseum, NL (2017); and the 1st Asia Biennial and 5th Guangzhou Triennial at Guangdong Museum of Art (2015-2016). Solo exhibitions include RoCH Fans and Legends at QUAD, UK (2015) and CFCCA (Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art, 2016); Faster, Higher at MAI, Montreal (2014), Winchester Discovery Centre, UK (2012) and BFI Southbank Gallery, London (2008); and Golden at Beaconsfield Contemporary Art, London, and CFCCA, Manchester (2006). She is an Associate Professor in Fine Art at Middlesex University, and a Co-Investigator on the AHRC Black Artists and Modernism project with University of Arts London, in collaboration with Middlesex.



This project was supported by: