Three artists are representing Venezuela at the 54th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia in Venice, Italy: Bassim Francisco, Yoshi, and Clemencia Labin. While Bassim Francisco and Yoshi exhibit artworks of individual character, Clemencia Labin chose to present a work that she has realized together with others, her social sculpture titled Velada Santa Lucía.
The Velada Santa Lucía is a collective art project that takes place every year in the Santa Lucía neighbourhood of the city of Maracaibo, Venezuela. The project is closely linked to the city and the social life of the community. Different visual artists from different places take over the public space and even private homes: The inhabitants of the village open their homes and allow their living rooms to be used for art exhibitions. To date, the Velada Santa Lucía has taken place eleven times already. More than 400 artists took part in the event this year.
Clemencia Labin was born in Maracaibo, Venezela in 1946. She studied with Franz E. Walther and Sigmar Polke at the HfBK Academy of Art Hamburg and lives and works in Hamburg / Germany, and Caracas / Venezuela. Her work has been shown in numerous solo and group exhibitions worldwide.
Text by Javier Cerisola (Commissioner, Venezuelan Pavilion):
The Velada Santa Lucía (videos External Hall) is a collective art project, organized every year by Clemencia Labin in the Santa Lucía neighbourhood of the city of Maracaibo, Venezuela. To date, the event has taken place eleven times. While in Bassim and Yoshi we find inner space represented by two poles or dialogic possibilities, Velada Santa Lucía refers to the city —to public space — and its main theme is a celebration based around art where art is an excuse for the appropriation of public space and its (self) recognition as a living organism, producer and recipient of culture.
However, the project is not just about a group of different visual artists from different places and fields taking over public space, co-existing —it should be noted— with other traditional manifestations of street life (food and drink stalls). In Velada Santa Lucía the fusion of art with other daily collective activities goes further and even inserts itself into intimate spaces: the neighbours in the area open the doors of their homes and allow their living rooms to be used for art exhibitions, thus producing one of the most original aspects of Labin’s project in relation to urban art appropriations in our country or to other types and other sized initiatives, such as the institutionalized White Nights festivals in Europe.
In Velada Santa Lucía, home and street are museum and contemporary art gallery for two nights in a much more complex, open and even unpredictable sense than what is traditionally offered by those institutions, even when across the world many are making renewed efforts regarding the type of relationship between artworks and the public that they make possible and bring about.
Labin’s Velada is a real way of making society and art interact. A permissive and public space where the spectator is part of a great collective performance.
Caracas, March 2011
Text by Luis Hurtado (Curator of the Venezuelan Pavilion):
Clemencia Labin. Velada Santa Lucía
Clemencia Labin’s commitment to and activism within art is well known in Venezuela. As an artist, Labin is a versatile creator whose personal work enjoys significant national and international renown and spans painting, assemblage, sculpture, installation and performance. Using a very personal and highly contemporary style, she develops experimental works that are characterised by a softness in approaching forms and by gentle contrasts in both the use of colour and materials, as well as the tropical opulence that honours the warmth, the imaginary and the aesthetic-cultural syncretism of her native Maracaibo. As well as revealing the artist’s close relationship to the lands of Zulia State, Labin’s performances are charged with a mystical poetry that speaks of local people’s spiritual tradition, which has found connections between Christian religiousness and Pagan rituals.
However, Clemencia Labin’s work goes beyond the range of her personal work; she is the mastermind, craftswoman and promoter of one of the most important public art experiences in our country, the Velada Santa Lucía. What began as a platform to support emerging artists through a means of exhibiting works that encourages intervention, both on a domestic-intimate level and on an urban scale, and exchange between participating artists, organisers and the community where the event takes place, has eleven years later become a massive contemporary art laboratory that triggers endless readings and interrelations.
The Velada Santa Lucía takes place annually in the Santa Lucía neighbourhood of the city of Maracaibo, in Zulia State. During the event, local people open the doors of their homes to more than two hundred artists who take part in each edition in order to work collectively to transform the community into a kind of “grand museum in the street” and an experimental space eager to welcome a varied public, whose interest and curiosity in finding out what is happening there has grown exponentially year on year. The artists on offer change each year and consequentially each day of the Velada is an unrepeatable opportunity to experience aesthetic moments, artistic styles, happenings and urban art amalgamate with colours, furniture, religious altars, backdrops and a galaxy of elements that make up the facades and most intimate spaces of homes in the neighbourhood.
The Velada Santa Lucía, a sublime and unique experience in Venezuela, has become a multi-dimensional space that activates a social dynamic in which the community and group of artists are the protagonists of an act of creation. Among the families, the artists and the mass of spectators drawn to discover the spirit of the event, interrelations that are impossible to establish beyond the realm of art are activated. Clemencia Labin, who as well as being the project’s ideologue, also participates as an artist in each edition, sets the process of the Velada Santa Lucía in motion by suggesting an initial vision of the event, but this vision expands, takes possession of time, gains a life of its own, creates its own rules and its own harmonies. The limit between the public and the private is blurred as the roles of artist, neighbour and spectator are interchanged; spontaneous and unexpected actions that arise on the peripheries of the organisers’ programme enrich the experience.
For Labin, “art resides in living together”. But, can the Velada Santa Lucía be interpreted as a grand work of art that encompasses space, time and social processes? With a multi-media and performance- based show that seeks to retrieve different aspects of the event in the Biennale di Venezia, we propose to prompt reflections about the concept of the contemporary art work, made up of dynamics of “living together” and sustained by networks of interactions and interrelations between people. Thus, the outside areas of the Venezuelan Pavilion are used to celebrate the Velada Santa Lucía, an extraordinary initiative that on one hand invites research and theoretical debate, and extends, on the other, an invitation to simply explore and be part of it. Long live Clemencia Labin.
Caracas, April 2011
Photos by Cosmin Năsui
Modernism.ro vă prezintă, în premieră, un serial dedicat expozițiilor pavilioanelor naționale și evenimentelor paralele și dar și a celor colaterale ale Bienalei de Artă de la Veneția, unul dintre cele mai importante evenimente europene de artă contemporană.
Mulțumim Institutului Român de Cultură şi Cercetare Umanistică de la Veneția și ICR București pentru suportul și sprijinul acordat la realizarea acestui serial.