For the first time ever, the Holy See will be present at the 55th International Art Exhibition in Venice. The event, which is organized by la Biennale di Venezia, will be open to the public from Saturday, June 1st to Sunday, November 24th, 2013.
At a press conference today, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture spoke to journalists on the significance of the Vatican’s presence at the Biennale Arte, as it is known. Cardinal Ravasi told journalists that the Holy See’s presence would promote an occasion for dialogue in a diversified context.
The annual art exhibition allows both countries and non-profit organizations an opportunity to develop their own artistic productions to contribute to the event. While it is not a marketplace for art, the Biennale allows for artist to display their artistic representations in a public forum.
The theme chosen by the Pontifical Council of Culture for their exhibition is one which Cardinal Ravasi said was fundamental for both culture and Church tradition: the first 11 chapters of the Book of Genesis.
“Specifically, the first eleven chapters have been chosen, as they are dedicated to the mystery of man’s origins, the introduction of evil into history, and our hope and future projects after the devastation symbolically represented by the Flood,” the Cardinal said.
The three major themes highlighted by Cardinal Ravasi were synthesized into three thematic elements that will be represented in the various contemporary artwork that will be presented by the Holy See: Creation, Uncreation, and the New Man, or Re-creation.
Studio Azzuro of Milan, a group of artists specializing in photography, graphics and animation were chosen by the Holy See to present that theme of Creation. Czech artist Josef Koudelka and Australian born artist Lawrence Carroll will present the themes of Uncreation and Re-creation, respectively.
Cardinal Ravasi expressed his thanks to the artists for taking on the enormous task of representing the themes of Genesis in their artwork. “A vital, rich, and elaborate dialogue has been established with them [the artists] and is a sign of a renewed, modern patronage. To them, my most heartfelt thanks,” he said.
Also present at the press conference was Professor Paolo Baratta, president of the Biennale di Venezia who applauded the participation of the Holy See as well as their “attention to the contemporary arts.”
The Biennale, he said, “is not a marketplace for exhibiting art in relation to its commercial value; it is a place where one sees art at the moment of its birth.”
It is rather a place where a work of art is viewed in the context of its creation, as the fruit of the yearnings, motivations and urges of artists and not in view of its final destination.”
The director of the Vatican Museums, Professor Antonio Paolucci, expressed his satisfaction with the representations of the themes created by the artists for the 55th International Art Exhibition as well as commenting on their selection.
“In a pavilion configured as wide open to cultural intersections and emotional pathways, we decided to select, in collaboration with the scientific committee, a group of internationally renowned artists who, in the variety of their languages and techniques, would produce converging characteristics, sensibilities, and openings with reference to the path chosen,” Prof. Paolucci said.