The buildup and excitement of a year and a half of planning culminated on Friday 22 April 2022 in Venice Italy with the opening of the Grenada Pavilion at Biennale di Venezia.
In spite of the many difficulties associated with the pandemic, the pavilion was picture perfect, and welcomed visitors flowing through by the hundreds. The press conference was held in the historic and beautiful Daniele Hotel in San Marco, with the attention of the international press and art critics.
First to greet everyone is the costume of the Shakespeare Mas Player, with a video that explains the ritual. The video of Ian Friday and Samuel Ogilvie invites a step further, as they perform “Syncretinism in Kayryouacou”, a spoken word presentation that modernises the Shakespeare Mas. Asher Mains’ installation, “Empathy of Place” is made up of detritus he has cleared from the beaches of Grenada and gives meaning in this foreign land. Susan Mains’ paintings depict the Mas players, with a final fellow looking like Cuguano. Oliver Benoit’s abstract paintings, “Whipping the Mind” take the words of Julius Ceasar and obscures them. Angus Martin’s historical research underpins it all, giving authenticity to the expressions. Finally, Billy Gerard Frank’s movie, “Palimpset: Stories of the Sea and Memory” tell a tell of the triumph of the human spirit of Cuguano.
One special visitor to the pavilion for the opening was Jakeme Gellineau, the 14-year-old GBSS student who played the role of the young Cugano in the movie. He and his mother made a special trip all the way from Grenada for him to be at this premier.
The feeling of unity between the artists’ works cannot be missed. Each in small ways reflect each other — the result of the many months speaking on Zoom to distill the theme and ideas.
Curator Dr Daniele Radini Tedeschi welcomed all, and spoke of the strong relationship that he has developed with the team from Grenada. Dr Susan Mains said that “the collegial fellowship of art” has created a strong bond. Noted with thanks were the Ministry of Culture in Grenada, the START company of Italy, the National Lottery Authority of Grenada, the Grenada Tourism Authority, and the many private supporters who have made this possible.
For the next 7 months, the pavilion will be open daily except for Monday. It is ideally located on Garibaldi, exactly between the Arsenale and the Giardini, so folks will not be able to resist stopping in. With some 80 National Pavilions, the visitors to the Biennale have to prioritise their visits. Our location makes it easy for a stop in.
This 5th appearance of Grenada in Venice for la Biennale is undoubtedly the best yet.
The title of the pavilion is taken from Edouard Glissant’s poetry, “An Unknown that does not terrify”. Certainly, there are many unknowns, and many terrifying events in the world, but for these few moments, one can be transported to an inclusive, reflective vision.
You can see more pictures at the website grenadavenice.org, on instagram at grenadapavilionvenice and on Facebook Grenada Biennale di Venezia.