Aboriginal Tent Embassy hits the Venice Biennale 2015

The Venice Biennale (la Biennale di Venezia) is the longest running and one of the most prestigious art events in the world. It takes place every two years in Venice, Italy, running for a number of months. The Biennale is usually structured with countries having their own pavillions (these exhibitions are each nations’ official representation), and major exhibitions at the Giardini Pavilion and the Arsenale. These last two exhibitions are curated by the Biennale’s curator and generally includes artists from around the world. There are also exhibitions that are held in other parts of Venice that are known as collateral events.


Richard Bell’s Aboriginal Tent Embassy. Image by Leesa Watego.

A number of Aboriginal artists have participated in the Biennale during it’s history as either official representatives of Australia, in the main biennale exhibition or in collateral events, including Judy Watson, Rover Thomas, Yvonne Koolmatrie, Emily Kngwarreye, Trevor Nickolls and Vernon Ah Kee. This year, Indigenous representation included Daniel Boyd and the late Emily Kngwarreye at the Giardini Central Pavillion in the All The World’s Futures.

In addition to the official representation, Aboriginal artist Richard Bell in conjunction with Alec Doomadgee, also held a series of independent art “interventions” at various locations around Venice, including the official Australian opening event. Richard’s work in Venice is an extension of the work featured at the Indigenous gallery of the Queensland Art Gallery.

The Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Venice reminds us that even rarefied space of the most prestigious exhibition in the world on the other side of the world, Australians are, as Vernon Ah Kee reminds us “what you inherit”.