In 2021, the Estonian exhibition at the 59th Venice Art Biennale will be in the heart of the exhibition at the Giardini. Estonia has participated in the biennale since 1997 with pavilions at various locations in the city of Venice. For the upcoming biennale, the Mondriaan Fund, which is the organizational team for the Dutch entry has invited the Estonians to exhibit as guests in their historical Rietveld pavilion building in the middle of Giardini. The Dutch themselves will move out of the pavilion this time and present their exhibition elsewhere in the city.
The Venice Biennale, which takes place every two years, is located throughout the city, but the heart and centre of the event is in the Giardini. This location developed in the first half of the 20th century and is where most of the national pavilions of the ‘old’ countries are located. Since its first appearance in 1997, Estonia has exhibited in various rental spaces throughout the city. Organising the exhibition in the Giardini represents a unique and one-off opportunity, which would be impossible without such an invitation. The last new building (the South Korean pavilion) was built in the park in 1996, and there is no more room to expand in the park. Due to the number of pavilions, its history and the main exhibition being located in the Giardini, the park is the most visited section of the biennale.
“Such opportunities do not develop on the international art scene overnight. This opportunity represents a great recognition for Estonian art, since the Netherlands made its decision based on the high artistic quality and professional execution of our past pavilions,” says the Minister of Culture Tõnis Lukas.
“Estonia has participated in the Venice Biennale since 1997 in various locations in the city. In these temporary pavilions quality exhibitions were presented with a strong lean towards the experimental,” said Eelco van der Lingen, director of the Mondriaan Fund. “By now it can be concluded that the CCA as commissioner has proven itself to be a professional and worthy institution, able to produce presentations of a high standard. To honour the achievement of the Estonian representation until now, for the 2021 edition the Mondriaan Fund has invited the Estonian pavilion team to occupy their own location at the heart of the Giardini, the Rietveld Pavilion.”
The Venice Biennale is the world’s largest art event, which has been organised since 1895. The Netherlands has been participating in the biennale since the beginning. Their pavilion building in Giardini Park was designed by the world-famous architect Gerrit Rietveld in 1954, and thereafter, the Dutch exhibition at the Venice Biennale have taken place there. “For the artists and curators who represent the Netherlands, it comes with a context: modernism, historical geopolitical structures as represented within the Giardini and, of course, Rietveld himself. For them, it can be a gift to escape the usual context for one edition of the Biennale,’ says Eelco van der Lingen, “We are very happy that the Estonian team will take care of our pavilion in 2021, and we are very curious for what they will come up with.”
For Estonian state, the pavilion at the Venice Biennale is the largest and most important international art project. The Estonian artist or artists who will create the exhibition in the Rietveld pavilion will be chosen by open call. The deadline for the first round is March 20th and the final decision will be made at the end of May. Since 1999, the Estonian pavilion has been organised by the Estonian Centre for Contemporary Art Foundation. Estonia’s participation in the Venice Art Biennale is financed by the Ministry of Culture.
Commissioner of the Estonian Pavilion, Director of the Estonian Centre for Contemporary Art
Communication manager, Estonian Centre for Contemporary Art