Art511 Mag: Venice Biennale 2019: Artists’ Diary – Claire Zakiewicz

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By the time we arrive at Arsenale my feet are wet, the weekend crowds are thick and my cold is streaming. Daniela’s time is short here so she heads inside but I still have three weeks to see the main sites so I go to some of the nearby collateral exhibitions, which are ticket-free. The first is Mongolia’s exhibition titled A Temporality. The artist is Los Angeles-based Mondolian artist Jantsankhorol Erdenebayar who has invited German guest artist Carsten Nicolai, aka Alva Noto (with the participation of Mondolian throat singers N.Ashit, Kh.Damdin, A.Undarmaa, D.Davaasuren). It is located in the allyway of Calle dell Forno, Castello – between the Arsenale and Giardini sites. I am immediately drawn in. I love the sound of Mongolian throat singing and sometimes use it in my own sonic works. It’s a vocalising technique, which the exhibition describes as being ‘used to communicate with inner selves, surroundings and nature’. The sonic work plays throughout the slightly damp, cavernous former bakery. Carsten Nicolai translates the ancient technique into a more contemporary art form although there is no explanation as to what makes the process and outcome contemporary rather than ancient and I am left wondering. Jantsankhorol works are huge textured black or cream sculptures with red light emitting from inside or behind them. They remind me of primitive life forms or otherwise futuristic – worms, slugs or possibly plants. They have a disturbing feel to them as they take over the space – hanging from the ceiling of one room rendering it impossible to enter. It is an immersive installation that activates feelings for me, rather than thoughts.

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