“In the beginning … the Word became Flesh” is the name of the Holy See's pavilion at the upcoming 56th Venice Biennale of Art (9 May to 22 November 2015).

The pavillion was presented this morning by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture and commissioner of the Pavilion, along with Paolo Baratta, president of the Biennale, and Micol Forte, curator of the Vatican Museums Collection of Contemporary Art and of the pavilion.

During the press conference, held in the Holy See Press Office, Cardinal Ravasi explained that, continuing from the theme of the Holy See's first contribution to the 2013 Venice Biennale, the 2015 pavilion will seek to re-establish the dialogue between art and faith and the need to examine, especially at an international level, the relationship between the Church and contemporary art.

“Continuing from the first edition, the Holy See pavilion of the 56th Venice Biennale will develop the theme of the 'Beginning', with an itinerary leading from the Old to the New Testament, making 'logos' and 'flesh' the terms of a relationship constantly in progress”.

“The reference to Genesis, understood as Creation, De-Creation, Re-Creation, in 2013 constituted the object of a reflection that is now further developed in the Prologue of the Gospel of John. In this latter, two essential poles are highlighted: the transcendent Word that is 'in the Beginning', and at the same time, reveals the dialogical and communicational nature of the God of Jesus Christ; and the Word that becomes 'flesh', body, bringing the presence of God into the essence of humanity, especially where it appears to be wounded and suffering. The 'vertical-transcendent' dimension and the 'horizontal-immanent' dimension of flesh thus constitute in this sense the axes of research. It is necessary to refer to these axes – and their intersection – to understand the individual works and the dialogue that is interwoven between them within the exhibition space.


Micol Forti presented the works and artists represented in the Pavilion, remarking that the “indissoluble bond between 'logos' and 'flesh' produces a dialectic dynamism … that inspires, in artists as well as in the public, reflection on the binomial that is at the root of humanity. The three artists, all young, of differing provenance, experience, ethical and aesthetic vision, have been required to flesh out the idea evoked in the Prologue of the Gospel of John”.

They include the Colombian Monika Bravo who, Forti explained, “has developed a narrative, deconstructed and recomposed on six screens and the same number of transparent panels, positioned on strongly coloured walls. In each composition, Nature, the Word (written and spoken) and artistic abstraction are presented as active elements of heuristic vision, open to a margin of experimental indeterminacy in the development of a new perceptive space and sensory fullness”.

The Macedonian Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva has designed a “monumental, architectural installation, whose 'fabric', almost a sort of skin or mantle, welcomes the visitor in a dimension that is simultaneously physical and symbolic. [The work is] made of organic waste material, in a journey from 'ready-made' to 're-made'”.

Forti continued, “Flesh transforms into history in the reality offered without falsification” by the photographer Mario Macilau, from Mozambique. The series of nine black and white photographs taken in Maputo, capital of Mozambique, depicts the street children who at a young age are compelled to face life in terms of survival. “It is not a photo-reportage, but rather a poetic work that reverses the connections between now and before, near and far, the visible and what cannot be seen.”