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The RCA at Venice Biennale 2019

One of the most prestigious and culturally important events in the art world, the Venice Biennale's 58th International Art Exhibition, titled May You Live In Interesting Times, will take place from 11 May to 24 November 2019. This year a variety of RCA staff, students and alumni are amongst those exhibiting, so we've created a guide to some our favourite works – from innovative design for the end of the Anthropocene to sculptures that address happiness and suffering. 

Dallas Pavilion 2019
Co-organised by Dr Jaspar Joseph-Lester, Acting Head of Programme, Sculpture, featuring Dr Adam Kaasa, Senior Research Tutor, School of Architecture

Location: Dallas Pavilion
Dates: 8–11 May 2019

Dallas Pavilion 2019
proposes alternative models of urban development and cultural commentary that promote the social and cultural needs of diverse urban communities over the commercial interests of corporate developers and the tourist industry.

The pavilion disseminates the work of twenty-four artists, art historians, and activists in the form of a series of 17 x 22-inch printed broadsides. Complete sets of broadsides will be distributed free and also posted in public spaces across Venice during the opening days of the Biennale.

Participants include Amanda Beech, Xxavier Carter, Melanie Clemmons, Roberto Conduro, Maureen Connor, Colette Copeland, Michael Corris (co-organiser), Diane Durant, Ludwig Engel, Tamara Johnson & Trey Burns III, Alfredo Jaar, Ashley Jones, Jaspar Joseph-Lester (co-organiser), Adam Kaasa, Kelly Kroener and Eli Walker, Stéphane Mroczkowsky & Alexandra Pignol, Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, Laray Polk, Peter Scott, Giovanni Valderas and K Yoland. 

A large rusting boat
Maureen Connor

Features work by Kate Davis, Senior Tutor, Sculpture

Location: Palazzo Pesaro Papafava
Dates: 8 May – 4 June 2019

ALIVE in the UNIVERSE presents 28 artists over 28 days at the Venice Biennale. These international and emerging artists express how it feels to be alive in the universe through video, performance and installation. 

Kate Davis, Senior Tutor, Sculpture, will present 'A Day in the Life of a City' alongside David Moore, Lecturer, Sculpture at Edinburgh College of Art. Inspired by the theme of 'suffering/happiness', 'A Day in the Life of a City' has been made in response to the sea. 

A crow perching on an iron bar
A Day in the Life of a City, Kate Davis & David Moore

Provoke, Unlearn, Change: Designing Perspectives
Curated by History of Design alumna Janice Li

Location: Palazzo Michele, Strada Nuova 4391, Venice, Italy
Dates: 11 May – 24 November 2019, except Tuesday
Private View: 9 & 10 May 2019, 6–10pm

Provoke, Unlearn, Change: Designing Perspectives will open at Venice Design, concurrently with the Venice Biennale. The exhibition – curated by Janice Li (MA History of Design 2018 and Assistant Curator, V&A East) and organised by Yan Zhou and Taiho Shin – will feature six projects from current Design Products and Innovation Design Engineering students. 

Design thinking has long been situated in a world in pursuit of solutions, yet in the face of the Anthropocene epoch and growing reliance on the virtual, it has become clear that design solutions alone no longer suffice. Designers in Provoke, Unlearn, Change: Designing Perspectives have responded to contemporary challenges by questioning existing knowledge and patterns, thus to encourage unlearning and give space for long-term impacts. In the form of new materials and processes, social critique interaction, and emotional and ecosophist explorations, they have left the limits of disciplinary boundaries behind and are bringing new perspectives to a world that needs it the most.

Red plates and bowls
From Wasteland to Living Room, Kevin Rouff, Guillermo Whittembury, Joris Olde-Rikkert and Luis Paco Böckelmann

Sun & Sea (Marina), Lithuanian Pavilion
Featuring Sculpture alumna Lina Lapelyte

Location: Lithuanian Pavilion, Marina Militare, Calle de la Celestia, Venice, Italy
Dates: 11 May – 31 October 2019, 10am – 6pm. Performance every Saturday.

Chosen to represent Lithuania at the Biennale, Sun & Sea (Marina) – an opera-performance by Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė, Vaiva Grainytė and RCA graduate Lina Lapelytė – turns the pavilion into a beach full of holiday-goers, acting as a rumination on daily life, ecology and climate change. Sun & Sea (Marina) won the 2019 Golden Lion for best national participation at the Biennale, the top honour of the festival.

Print alumni Haris Epaminonda was awarded the Silver Lion for a promising young participant in the International Exhibition May You Live In Interesting Times. The jury praised her 'carefully constructed constellations of images, objects, text, forms, and colours that are built out of fragmented memories, histories and imagined connections,' particularly congratulating her for 'showing us that the personal and the historical can be compressed into a powerful yet loose web of multiple meanings'.

An installation shot of white columns against an orange backdrop
VOL. XXVII., Haris Epaminonda 2019
mixed media installation
© Courtesy La Biennale di Venezia | Photographer: Andrea Avezzù