Sean Edwards’ exhibition ‘Undo Things Done’ is the Welsh presentation for the 58th Venice Biennale, marking the ninth time Wales in Venice has exhibited at the biennale.
Commissioned by Arts Council of Wales and curated by Marie-Anne McQuay with lead organisation Tŷ Pawb, it sees the Cardiff-born artist addressing issues of place, politics and class.
The exhibition at Santa Maria Ausiliatrice in the Castello district of Venice is the first time Edwards has shown at a major international biennale.
The church’s main chapel features a sculptural installation that viewers are invited to walk through and around. It is described as a ‘a large-scale three-dimensional collage’, a fence-like structure that incorporates fragments of the artist’s own photographs.
Referencing Edwards’ experiences growing up on a council estate in 1980s Cardiff, the exhibition flows across the linked rooms of the church and also includes prints, film, Welsh quilts and a live play for radio, Refrain, produced with National Theatre Wales and performed each day by the artist’s mother from her home in Cardiff.
Edwards describes the relationship of individual pieces within the wider installation as that of ‘poems in a poetry collection, self-contained yet connected’.
Speaking to a-n News prior to the show’s opening, Edwards explained his approach: “One of the things I wanted to do from the offset was to not play to the the spectacle of the biennale, to retain a sense of intimacy and small detail.
“A phrase pinned to my studio wall says ‘disappointing rather than spectacular’, which is something that I’ve strived for in the work.”
The exhibition also includes a silent monitor film featuring a child’s-eye view of a game of dominos, showing adult hands moving as the game progresses. Also featured is a large-scale print of the artist’s own hand with bitten finger nails.
In a classroom in the church, large embroidered Welsh quilts hang, their patterns influenced by the font from a tabloid newspaper.
Commenting on the show and the team involved in its production, McQuay said: “Together we are attempting to make a show which, with intimacy and tenderness, reflects on and gives value to the quiet lives lived in the margins of ‘interesting times’.”
The Venice Biennale 2019 runs from 11 May to 24 November 2019. www.labiennale.org
1. Sean Edwards, ‘Undo Things Done’, installation view, Santa Maria Ausiliatrice, Venice 2019. Courtesy: Sean Edwards and Tanya Leighton, Berlin; Photo: Jamie Woodley
2-7. Sean Edwards, ‘Undo Things Done’, installation view, Santa Maria Ausiliatrice, Venice 2019. Courtesy: Sean Edwards and Tanya Leighton, Berlin; Photo: Jamie Woodley
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Laure Prouvost represents France at the 58th Venice Biennale with her project ‘Deep See Blue Surrounding You / Vois Ce Bleu Profond Te Fondre’. Centred on a fictional film that captures an initiatory journey through France to the Mediterranean Sea and finally to Venice, the installation also includes materials and processes typical of the artist’s practice, such as leftover objects from the film, resin, glass, plants and water vapour. @labiennale @if_officiel @deepsee_frenchpavilion #biennalearte2019 #mayyouliveininterestingtimes #laureprouvost #labiennaledivenezia