As the inauguration of the 55th Venice Biennale approaches, a level of excitement is building regarding the large international exhibition curated by Massimiliano Gioni and the individually curated pavilions representing various countries and artists. I recently had an exchange for Flash Art International with Carey Lovelace, Co-Commissioner of the American Pavilion, which will host the work of artist Sarah Sze.
Carey Lovelace
Photo- Mauro Benedetti
Katy Diamond Hamer: How would you describe your role as Co-commissioner for the American Pavilion?
Carey Lovelace: As Commissioners, we developed the original idea for Triple Point with Sarah, then submitted a jointly written proposal to the State Department.  Sarah is doing a very elaborate installation and is very much in charge of making on-the-ground artistic decisions.   We are working with her and her installation team to help everything go as smoothly as possible.  Implementation of the Pavilion project has been complex, as one might imagine, knowing Sarah’s detailed, ambitious approach.  In addition to Sarah’s piece, we are also creating an extensive educational engagement component, as well as a number of other initiatives.  For example, a book documentingTriple Point is being co-published by the Bronx Museum and Gregory R. Miller, Co., there is a website with a social media component, to name a few surrounding activities.
Sarah Sze, Lyon in Studio
Image courtesy of Columbia University
School of the Arts
KDH: In working with commissioning institution The Bronx Museum of the Arts (a first for Venice!) would you say the Bronx will have a presence beyond that of the museum representing the project?
CL: The Bronx Museum has a robust educational engagement extending into its community;  this approach has been integrated into the approach to the Biennale.  (I should add that Co-Commissioner Holly Block is the Museum’s Executive Director;  I am an independent curator, collaborating with them, but not on staff.)   We have a three-tier educational initiative, much of it funded by Bloomberg.  There is a Teen Exchange, underway since January, between high school students in the Bronx and Venice.  A series of charrettes, in collaboration with students and professors at the Universita Iuav di Venezia, will take place in Venice in the summer and fall..  One theme that they will explore is “Invisible Cities”–that there are marginalized populations in New York, but also in the Venice region, groups that within the historic and scenic context of the city, many of its own citizens may not be fully aware of.   Both these programs are being overseen by Bronx Museum Public Programs Director Sergio Bessa;  zines and videos created collaboratively by the Bronx and Venice teens, as well as other products of these collaborations, will be available online via a portal accessible at  Although this does not imply the Bronx borough specifically, a third component, being directed by Bloomberg, is a series of Venice Conversations, structured around themes in Sarah’s installation, bringing together leading creative, business, and scientific figures to discuss topics related to creativity as a problem-solving tool.  The first Conversation will take place in Venice on May 31–again, digital documentation will be accessible through our website. Subsequent Conversations are projected to take place in Bloomberg headquarters in London, Rio, Hong Kong, and New York.  The final Conversation, in March 2014, we are thinking will take place, specifically, in the Bronx.  This will be the beginning of a national tour of some portion of Sarah’s Triple Point.    Many aspects of this programming, however, are still in development;  there is much I still can’t yet completely spell out.
Sarah Sze – Untitled (portable planetarium)
KDH: Sarah Sze is an artist who responds to space in a physical way, her work expanding and contracting within specific confines. In being present with her directly for the installation Triple Point  can you give us a sneak peek into any elements that one might equate with previous installs and a hint into if Venice as a city will manifest in a particular role?
CL: Sarah has felt, as do we, that it is important to keep an element of surprise in the initial encounter of the work, so we have all been circumspect in terms of what we say about the piece.   Also, Sarah maintains an improvisatory element to her work, so it will not be clear until the last minute exactly what form the installation will take (even though, paradoxically, there is a great deal of advance preparation). It’s safe to say that she is creating an immersive environment that will fill the Pavilion and extend outside into the building’s plaza and outer facade.  Sarah likes to structure environments to disorient you a little bit, and absorb your attention–qualities that will be prevalent here.   Iconic themes and images she has developed over the course of her work will also reappear. Most of all,there will be the sense of intellectual quest and discovery, metaphors for that impulse in its deepest, most nuanced sense. In terms of Venice specifically, as is true of all her work, elements from the surroundings will enter in, but in a diaristic way.  They are intended to chart the making of the piece, that is, having to do with day-to-day fabrication—the piece might include vaparetto tickets, leaves from trees in the Giardini, sugar packets from restaurants, and so forth.
KDH: Thank you Carey, looking forward to seeing the pavilion and installation in person!
More soon.