About

Often referred to as the Olympics of contemporary art, the Venice Biennale (La Biennale di Venezia) has, for over a century, been one of the most prestigious cultural institutions in the world. Since its founding in 1895, it has promoted contemporary culture, new ideas, and artistic trends through major international exhibitions. The 54th International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale took place June 4 – November 27, 2011.

The Indianapolis Museum of Art was selected to present the work of the Puerto Rico-based artist collaborative Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla at the U.S. Pavilion.

Six new works by Allora & Calzadilla premiered at the 2011 Biennale, transforming the interior and exterior of the U.S. Pavilion into a dynamic and interactive space. The new commissions by Allora & Calzadilla employed a variety of artistic practices to pose important questions about the relationships among art, politics, and international identity. These multimedia works utilized performance, sculpture, video and sound elements to highlight the role of art in framing and exploring complex social issues such as national identity, democracy, militarism, and freedom. Comprised of works developed specifically in response to the U.S. Pavilion site, the exhibition analyzed contemporary geopolitics through the lens of spectacular nationalistic and competitive enterprises such as the Olympic Games, international commerce, war, the military-industrial complex and even the Biennale itself.

Lisa D. Freiman, Chair of the IMA's Department of Contemporary Art, served as commissioner of the U.S. Pavilion.

The U.S. Pavilion is presented by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, which supports and manages the official United States participation at selected international exhibitions.

U.S. Pavilion

Within the Castello Gardens that host the national Pavilions of the Venice Biennale, the US Pavilion is a Palladian-style structure designed by William Adams Delano and Chester Holmes Aldrich and opened in 1930.

Acquired by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in 1986, the U.S. Pavilion is presented by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, which supports and manages the official United States participation at selected international exhibitions.

Additional Resources

Official Biennale website

Peggy Guggenheim Collection Overview of U.S. Pavilion

Venice Biennale Wikipedia Entry

Exhibition Brochure

Exhibition Catalogue

The artistic collaborative of Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla's exhibition at the Venice Biennale 2011, titled Gloria, comprised six new works developed partly in response to the U.S. Pavilion site. Combining performance, sculpture, video and sound elements, the works use poetic shock and unexpected juxtaposition to reflect upon competitive enterprises such as the Olympic Games, international commerce, the military industrial complex and even the Biennale itself. This publication documents Allora & Calzadilla's exhibition in the U.S. Pavilion, including images of the works as they were installed in Venice as well as documentation of performances by professional athletes affiliated with U.S.A. Gymnastics and U.S.A. Track and Field. Essays by exhibition curator, U.S. Commissioner, and IMA Senior Curator of Contemporary Art Lisa Freiman, and art historians Carrie Lambert-Beatty and Yates McKee explore the themes addressed in Gloria and place Allora & Calzadilla's works within a larger art historical and social context.

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