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Newfoundland Selects Artists for 2015 Venice Biennale

Two artists working with aspects of the Newfoundland and Labrador landscape have been chosen for the province’s submission to the 2015 Venice Biennale.

Jordan Bennett, a multidisciplinary artist of Mi’kmaq descent based on the West Coast of Newfoundland, will be represented with his installation Ice Fishing. Bennett is known for works that blend pop culture and cultural appropriation; he first broke through to national attention in 2010 with skateboarding sneakers that had been beaded in a traditional style, and during the 2011 Venice Biennale, his poster stating “This is an Indian Reserve” was posted at various offsite locations around Venice.

Anne Troake, an artist, choreographer and filmmaker based on the Avalon Peninsula near St. John’s, will be represented by her immersive 3D video installation OutSideIn. Troake is known for her 2005 NFB film My Ancestors Were Rogues and Murderers, which looks at the debate around Newfoundland and Labrador’s seal hunt, as well as known for her 2003 film Pretty Big Dig, which choreographs construction machinery into a kind of ballet.

Bennett’s Ice Fishing includes a fishing-shack installation and multiple video/audio projections. In the audio tracks, Bennett and his father discuss the historical significance of ice fishing. The work was co-created by Bennett and the NFB Digital Studio as part of the Toronto’s 2014 ImagiNATIVE Festival, where it will also be on view from October 22 to 26.

Troake’s OutSideIn was filmed at her farm in Logy Bay, and features dancers Carole Prieur and Bill Coleman performing choreography based on “cellular-sourced movements.” It shifts from the familiar to the wild, the nature to the supernatural.

Both works will be presented in an exhibition titled “Under the Surface,” organized by the not-for-profit Terra Nova Art Foundation at Venice’s Galleria Ca’Rezzonico, a palazzo on the Grand Canal.

Bennett and Troake were selected by curator Chris Clarke—who was born in St. John’s and is currently senior curator at Ireland’s Glucksman Gallery—in consultation with an advisory committee consisting of Art Gallery of Nova Scotia chief curator Sarah Fillmore, Eastern Edge Gallery director Mary MacDonald, and National Gallery of Canada associate curator of contemporary art Jonathan Shaughnessy.

“Jordan Bennett and Anne Troake exemplify the centrality of the land to the inhabitants of Newfoundland and Labrador,” states Chris Clarke in a release. “This notion of a specific geographical terrain as an integral part of the region’s traditions, culture and economy is explored in their respective practices, as a site of performance and interaction as well as an expression of one’s community and heritage.”

“Under the Surface” hopes to build upon the success of “About Turn: Will Gill & Peter Wilkins,” a debut exhibition of Newfoundland and Labrador artists that took place in 2013 as one of the official collateral events of the Biennale.

“Under the Surface” will be on display at the Galleria Ca’Rezzonico from May 9 to November 22, 2015.

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