Australian artist Marco Funiato’s confronting entry Desastres at the Australia Pavilion.

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Glass-Kantor said she knew there’d be sensitivities with the project and kept the Australia Council across the project as it developed.

She says the work is an invitation for audiences to come together within a high-intensity concentration of energy. “What can’t be seen, can be felt,” Glass-Kantor says. “Sound as physical matter which creates a transformative experience.”

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The artist’s work was selected in 2019 by the Australia Council for the Arts from a shortlist that included Adam Linder, Dale Harding and Joyce Hinterding and Patrick Pound. About 80 per cent of the project’s budget has been supported by private philanthropy.

Australia Council chief executive Adrian Collette, who launched the latest contribution, said the exhibition in Venice was set to be one of the most highly anticipated and “an experience like no other”.

The Venice Biennale was founded in 1895 as a single international art exhibition in the Giardini. In the years that followed, national pavilions were erected in the gardens to showcase art from different countries. It was famously the scene of a meeting between German leader Adolf Hitler and Italy’s fascist dictator Benito Mussolini in 1934.

The Russian pavilion – built in 1914 by Alexey Shchusev who later designed Lenin’s mausoleum – sits empty this year, patrolled by security guards. The Lithuanian curator of Russia’s project, as well as its artists, resigned shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The ‘fountain of exhaustion’, part of the Ukrainian pavilion – the work and the artist travelled from Kharkiv days after the invasion began. Credit:AP

But among the most popular exhibitions is set to be the Ukrainian pavilion, featuring artist Pavlo Makov. Makov, whose project is titled Piazza Ucraina and staged in solidarity with his countrymen and women, made it out of Kharkiv and to Venice along with his team days after Russian tanks rolled across the border.

Aside from 80 national pavilions, the Biennale, which runs from Saturday until November 27, features a central exhibition organised by Cecilia Alemani, chief curator of New York’s High Line.

Occupying the large International pavilion and the huge space of the city’s former naval Arsenale, Alemani’s show is titled The Milk of Dreams, after a children’s story by the British surrealist artist and author Leonora Carrington.

Of the 213 artists from 58 countries in Alemani’s exhibition, most of them, for the first time in the Biennale’s history, are women.

Most of the works in the central exhibition are by women, such as this one from Zhenya Machevna, one of the Russian artists who have spoken out against the war in Ukraine.

Most of the works in the central exhibition are by women, such as this one from Zhenya Machevna, one of the Russian artists who have spoken out against the war in Ukraine. Credit:AP

“We have been obscuring the work of women artists in an unfortunately dramatic way,” Alemani said in a recent interview.

She added that, despite the “radical changes” brought by the #MeToo movement in the last few years, her native country, Italy, remained “very, very sexist.”



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