Aleksandra Mir, Sicilian Pavilion

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PALERMO—On Sunday June 3rd in the evening, a ’77 Silver Shadow Rolls Royce embarked on the ferry to Naples and began a three-day journey of 200 nautical miles and 800 kilometers across the Italian peninsula to Venice, arriving to crash the party at the opening of the 52nd International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia...

Announcing itself as the Sicilian Pavilion to the 52nd International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia, the project is a light-hearted, eccentric and informal gesture with deep political implications. The Sicilian Pavilion takes as its primary objective the promotion of Sicilian culture and art in the prestigious international context of the Venice Biennale – which, with its recent additions of Chinese and African pavilions celebrates globalization, but where regional politics may still be overlooked. The Sicilian Pavilion proposes itself as both an uninvited participant and an invited guest, equal in prestige to the Biennale, declaring its own importance as a region where art and cultural production are traditional, experimental and thriving, despite a profound lack of resources such as established institutions, grant-giving bodies or a market.

The poetics of the work are as deeply embedded: the Palermo-registered Rolls Royce summons the spirit of the Sicilian aristocracy in decay, as depicted in Visconti’s famous film, The Leopard. At the same time it delivers fresh and new talent – it is at once a melancholic and hopeful meditation on the prospects of the future. The fate of the young artists upon arrival in Venice is left open: all participants will be left to their own devices. Without money for hotels or official VIP invites, they will initially have to scramble and squat.

The Sicilian Pavilion was conceived in a dialogue between artist Aleksandra Mir and curator Paolo Falcone about the status of Sicily in the world. Aleksandra Mir donated her artwork to pay for the journey, trading it with collector Marion Franchetti (the daughter of the recently deceased Barone Giorgio Franchetti), who made it possible.
The car, the property of Paolo Falcone, is made available and driven by Falcone who acts as both commissioner and chauffeur. This intimate and triangular construct creates a forceful and passionate island of independence in a sea of indifference and apathy.

Luca De Gennaro (b. Palermo 1979), a graduate of the Palermo Academy of Fine Art, 2006, uses traditional outsider media such as tattooing and graffiti to create his persona and ongoing social performance. With this journey he would like to be an example of and instrument for the mechanizations of the art system, casting himself upon arrival in Venice as a yearning fan, stalking established artists and star curators for autographs and snapshots, shedding light on the ephemerality of fame and the anxieties that permeate our industry. Salvo Prestifilippo (b. Palermo 1978), studied photography with Shobha and Letizia Battaglia. He uses the medium primarily as an ethnographic tool with which to meticulously cover art world events, as if they were large-scale, elaborate productions of social relations and forms worthy of analysis and presentation, backstage and in progress. As such, he will actively document and subsequently produce the story of the very journey of the Sicilian Pavilion from his hometown of Palermo to the destination of Venice.

All five participants thus take an active and self-conscious part in their roles, as themselves and as symbolic entities.

Published by Fondazione Sambuca, Palermo, 2007.