By Chika Okeke-Agulu PrincetonUniversity Professor/ Blogger, Ofodunka

Excerpt from:



On Wednesday, December 4, the Press Office of the Venice Biennale announced the appointment of the Nigerian-born curator and scholar Okwui Enwezor as the director of the 56th Venice Biennale scheduled for 2015. In this interview, Enwezor discusses his career and the significance of his latest curatorial project.


Chika Okeke-Agulu: At the opening of Documenta11 in 2002, I remember saying to you that the next big challenge would be Venice. I said it as a kind of joke, but not because I did not think you could do it. Rather I was aware that only one other person--the legendaryHarald Szeemann--had curated both Documenta and Venice. In any case, since Documenta you have organized Gwangju and Seville Biennales, as well as La Triennale, Paris, and now, Venice. I cannot imagine what it feels to join Szeemann in this curatorial pantheon?


Okwui Enwezor: Thanks Chika. That's extremely kind of you to make a comparison with me and Szeeman. I know this question will inevitably come up, and I want to be as clear as possible, I belong to no pantheon. There really isn't a comparison; Szeeman is entirely in a league by himself. In the abundance of his ideas, the almost carnal fervor for artists, artworks, and objects of all kinds, along with his bold, original curatorial experiments, he paved the path to the thinking that curatorial practice need not be too studied, formalist or dogmatic.


The fact that we are the only two curators to have helmed both Documenta and Venice Biennale is a historical happenstance; but one whose significance is still settling in. It is of course, a great honor to be entrusted with the task of organizing an exhibition of this magnitude and international acclaim. Nevertheless, it is not lost on me that there is some kind of meaning in the symbolism to which you drew attention. Exactly 15 years ago, I got handed the reins of organizing Documenta. I was 35 at the time, I had limited track record, no major institution, patron, mentor, behind me, yet somehow that amazing jury that selected me saw beyond those deficits and focused, I hope, on the force of my ideas, and perhaps even a little wager on the symbolism of my being the first non-European, etc. My sense of it was that the jury wanted a choice that could be disruptive of the old paradigm but still not abandon the almost mythic ideal of this Mount Olympus of exhibitions.


I came to Documenta as I said with little track record, but with an abundance of confidence. Now at fifty, I come to Venice with a different set of lenses and experience. As you mentioned I have now organized quite a number of biennials. It's time to get to work.


C. O.: Documenta11 was one of the few exhibitions that have been called game changers in the history of curating. And this, I believe had to do with your introduction of the multiple platforms scattered across the globe, as the constitutive sites of an event that until then only took place in Kassel. What are your preliminary thoughts about how you might approach Venice, given its history and structure?


O. E.: It's too early to say what shape the 56th Venice Biennale will take. Of course, I have some preliminary ideas, but those will be worked out in due course. The one virtue of Documenta is the time allowed to organize it, which made possible the platforms. But you must remember that the platform idea, which was fundamentally about the deterritorialization of Documenta, was not initially endorsed by certain landlocked critics, but once it took off its implications about going beyond business as usual became abundantly clear. I drew enormously from the Igbo saying: "Ada akwu ofuebe ekili nmanwu." The mobility of the platforms across major cities and some not so major ones was premised on this principle. To see the artworld properly as it should be, to engage in meaningful debate the curator must risk the sense of inquisitive wanderlust. However, Venice is an Island, but also a legendary maritime trading city that historically looked out to the rest of the world. The limited time permitted to organize the biennale produces a certain sense of temporal density. I am certainly thinking about how to surmount this conundrum.


C. O.: Looking at the trajectory of your career, from the early 1990s when, with a few friends and colleagues working in the margins of the contemporary art world, you founded Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art, to becoming a leading academic, administrator and curator in the field of contemporary art, does it sometimes feel like an improbable story?


O. E.:All stories are improbable. Nothing is preordained. No one is born with a straight arrow in his quiver. It's a combination of relentless work and good fortune. Without this improbability there is no risk, no adventure, no discovery. I am an autodidact which was the basis of my ceaseless and restless appetite for ideas. I learned enormously about art, not in an art history seminar (I don't even recall actually taking one) but by seeing enormous number of exhibitions, being in the presence of art and artists every week, everywhere. I still do, and I maintain the exercise of seeing, reading, thinking, and writing.


I arrived in New York in late summer of 1982, at a pivotal point in the development of contemporary art, fashion, performance, music, etc. in the city. I was a beneficiary of the perfect storm of creative upheaval: art, postmodern and postcolonial theory, identity politics: race, sexuality, gender, queer and feminist activism, and the AIDS pandemic further refreshed my perspective on difference and politicized my response to injustice. This was the context that opened me up to complexity and taught me to be courageous and fearless.


Also, Coming from Nigeria I felt I owed no one an explanation for my existence, nor did I harbor any sign of paralyzing inferiority complex. What was apparent was that most Americans I knew and met were actually not worldly at all, but utter provincials in a very affluent but unjust society. And when this became clear I saw no reason why I could not have an opinion or a point of view. I was not about to be respectful of ignorance of Africa or prejudice against African culture. This gave me some chutzpah.


I started learning about what was going on in downtown New York across every cultural and literary sphere through publications like Village Voice, Detail, Seven Days. I attended openings, went to readings, saw an enormous number of exhibitions, in every imaginable context, from apartments to Soho galleries, to alternative spaces to museums, nightclubs such as Danceteria, Area, Pyramid Club, Peppermint Lounge, Palladium, Save the Robots, The World, Roxy, Madam Rosa's, and later Nell's, Mars, you just name it. I was educated as it were in situ. I can actually say that I was there.


At some point this intense experience as a young Nigerian who was deeply interested in art and all types of the creative process ceases to be a fluke. I don't believe in standing on the margins. You should also know that what partly made Nka viable was that I did actually have a deep knowledge of international contemporary art. I was not pretending. When I started thinking of setting up Nka in 1991 when I was in my twenties, I was intellectually ready and had a certain theoretical grounding and immersion in art, visual culture, etc. I was already collecting a bit of photography and some art. My first major acquisition was the portrait of Jean-Michel Basquiat by James Van der Zee from Howard Greenberg Galleryon Wooster Street. I would go to the Comme des Garçon boutique downstairs to shop and up to the Greenberg Gallery to browse vintage prints by Cartier Bresson, Kertescz, Weston, Moholy Nagy, Baron de Meyer. So with Nka It wasn't as if I did not know what I was talking about. The only reason it also worked was because I had the language and it was fresh and people were open to giving it audience. That it led to where I am standing today is both surprising and thrilling. But we are nearly thirty years into this story. The novelty of endless looking back is wearing off. Obama's campaign slogan in the last election against the hapless Mitt Romney had it exactly right: Forward.


C. O.: Are you going to retire from curating biennales after Venice?


O. E.: I am not the retiring type.


Press release

Chen Ting-Chang, Winner of the Arte Laguna Special Youth Prize at the Occasion of the OPEN 17. International Exhibition of Sculptures and Installations, 2014

CHEN Ting-Chang (1990 - ) is one of the most talented young artists of his generation in contemporary Taiwanese visual art. Currently a post-graduate in the Department of Chinese Ink Painting and Calligraphy, National Taiwan University of Arts, Chen has won prizes at numerous competitions in the past few years. Recently, he has further experimented with various media such as light and sound installation, interactive work, sculpture, and performances. Not being-in-the–world, but rather the sheer mysterious existence of human life has become a central theme to his artistic creation and also the main focus of his poetry. One of his favorite works of Western art is Piet Mondrian’s Tableau 2 (1922) at the Guggenheim Museum, Venice, not least because the interplay of black and white conveys a constant flux that reminds him of the black-and-white dynamics of Chinese ink painting.

In The imitation of the Grand Silence, the work that won him the Arte Laguna Special Youth Prize on the occasion of the OPEN 17. International Exhibition of Sculptures and Installations, 2014, Chen Ting-Chang has succeeded in dealing with the existential and physical presence of human beings whose gaze is not determined by desire but first and foremost by light – by a specific light in a given time and space. By piling up small grids or compartments of transparent acrylic filled with a likewise transparent wax-like fluid, positioning them on top of a naturally-colored inverted mountain, and lastly enclosing them in a grand geometric acrylic box, transparent as well, Chen delineates a world of ‘living’ grids/spaces/times that all look different depending on the actual angle of light incidence and reflection as well as the viewer’s own angle of vision.

Chen has described the possibilities of perceiving the many divers nuances of light parallel to our human gaze, nuances that accompany our life from beginning to end, as follows:

Born in the gaze
The grand silence
Seeing interpretation as real
Space compares with time
This is the arch-form of contradiction
He is born
Imitating time in eternity

As the recipient of the Arte Laguna Special Youth Prize, Chen Ting-Chang will be invited to participate in the upcoming Arte Laguna Finalists Exhibition at the Arsenale, Venice, in March, 2015.

CHEN Ting-Chang

Artist’s statement

I consider artistic creation an opportunity.
It is not about producing something that expresses what I think here and now,
but rather it is like looking into what I have thought before.
While looking in this way, I experience anew, if from a distance, an interpretation of what were my former attitudes toward things and human beings.
For me, artistic creation is not limited to expression and production.
Rather, it means to be the recipient of a powerful message.
This message tells me that ultimately I can see only by myself and that what
I see is just one specific angle of interpretation.

CHEN Ting-Chang

Born 1990, in Taoyuan, Taiwan. Lives and works in Taipei, Taiwan.

Currently graduate studies at the National Taiwan University of Arts (Painting and Calligraphy Dept.)


2014   The Grand Art Exhibition of New Taipei City, New Taipei City Art

Center, Taipei, Taiwan

2014   Human- Beings are Not Human- Beings, A Joint Exhibition of Nine

Artists, Xinzhuang Art Center, Taipei, Taiwan

2013   Existence of Upside Down Upside Down, National Taiwan University of

Arts, Taipei, Taiwan

2013   The Art Exhibition of New Taipei City, New Taipei City Art Center,

Taipei, Taiwan

2012   That Year, A Joint Exhibition of Chen Ting-Chang and Shen Xiao-wen,

Yilan County Arts Center, Yilan, Taiwan


2014  Arte Laguna Special Youth Prize, Venice, Italy

2013  First Prize, New Taipei City Art Exhibition - Ink Painting, Taipei, Taiwan 

2013  First Prize, Department exhibition, National Taiwan University of Art, Taiwan

2012  First Prize, Department exhibition, National Taiwan University of Art, Taiwan

2011  First Prize, Department exhibition, National Taiwan University of Art, Taiwan


2014   The Imitation of the Grand Silence, International University Venice, Italy

2013   Dust Action, National Taiwan University of Arts, Taipei, Taiwan



The Imitation of the Grand Silence, 2014, acrylic, ink, wax & clay, 28 x 10 x 120 cm




17. International Exhibition of Sculptures and Installations


OPEN, the International Exhibition of Sculptures and Installations, will celebrate its seventeenth edition from 28th August to 28th September 2014 at the same time as the Venice Film Festival.

More than thirty international artists will take part with site-specific projects in the public areas of Venice Lido and the Island of San Servolo.

Conceived and curated by Paolo De Grandis, co-curated by Carlotta Scarpa, the exhibition is organised by PDG Arte Communications in collaboration with the Municipality of Lido Pellestrina and is held under the patronage of the Italian Ministry of the Cultural Heritage, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Veneto Region and the Province of Venice.

At OPEN the combination of sculpture and the environment is an inexhaustible and fascinating theme, thanks to the strong conceptual matrix that is renewed with the aim of presenting the many aspects of artistic expression.The necessary counterpart is the urban spaces and green areas of a territory viewed in the complexity of its anthropological and cultural values.

Over the years OPEN has created a strong genius loci thanks to the presence of countless international artists, who have brought different cultures and traditions to the island, redefining its cultural substratum. And so every year a broad horizon of linguistic experimentation is created, whose options in the case of sculpture have become more and more sensitive to the choice of materials, whether they be those of traditional sculpture or something more akin to industrial production, right up to installations that can undergo the most surprising processes of re-semantisation.

At OPEN, sculpture, installation and environment compete on a parallel plane susceptible to the artist’s personal vision, in a conceptual and poetic path able to contend with certain ritual and symbolic aspects of public spaces.

OPEN’s research is therefore free from any preconceived or somehow acquired methods of communication and language, but it develops in progress, taking on all the risk of the result.

OPEN seeks to define certain ambits, certain contexts that enrich this art factory, declined not only in the canonical form, but also in those border areas where creativeness has to contend with communication, its mechanisms and its aims. Among the many possible interpretations there is the continuous alternation of sensitivity in imagining contemporary art and the fil rouge of collaboration between artists, curators and promoting bodies that share exciting artistic synergies. Collaboration among curators is renewed with Chang Tsong-zung for China, Ebadur Rahman for Bangladesh and Yang Wen-i for Taiwan. In particular, young artists from the National Taiwan University of Arts will be presented, along with an educational project that will be held with a workshop for children between 4 and 10 years of age. There will be an opportunity of exchange between Taiwanese and Venetian children to learn and experiment the techniques of calligraphy.

A documentary organised and produced by Marco Agostinelli will talk about the great challenge of OPEN and the man behind it, Paolo De Grandis. During the inauguration the artist Iris Brosch will do a performance with a video shot in the Isola di Poveglia.

During the exhibition the fifth edition of the Laguna Art Special Prize will be assigned to a young artist selected by the Laguna Art Prize jury. This award will offer the winner the possibility to be included among the finalists of the Laguna Art Prize 2015 and to show his or her work on the circuit organised by the same association.

OPEOPEN renews the osmosis between different cultural words, it creates itself in the open air through spontaneous and interactive movements.



Bangladesh - Avi Shankar Ain

Germany - Irene Anton, Iris Brosch,Federico Schiaffino

Great Britain - Mark Aspinall, Tim Ellis

Italy - Marco Agostinelli, CaCO3, Roberto Cambi, Luciano Chinese, Eracle Dartizio, Duilio Forte, Flavio Marzadro, Miresi, Fabio RanzolinMaria Teresa Sabatiello,Wolfgang Zingerle

Norway - Andrew Barton

The Netherlands - Erik Wijntjes

Peru - Ana Maria Reque

Russia - Sasha Frolova

Spain - Manuel Martí Moreno, David Sánchez León

Ukraine - Victor Sydorenko

National Taiwan University of Arts - CHEN Ting-Chang, CHIU Fang-Yi, KOU Che-Yin, LAI Mei-Ju, LIN Yu-Chen, LU Ching-Chen, Tanes Naipanich

Media Enquiries:


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14th Edition

Special Prize to the

71st Venice International Film Festival

The OPEN Prize 2014 is awarded to

Rä di Martino

Award ceremony: Tuesday 2nd September 2014

Villa degli Autori, Venice Lido

Arte Communications launches the 14th edition of the OPEN Prize, on the occasion of OPEN 17. International Exhibition of Sculptures and Installations.

The institution of this award, conceived in 2000 by Paolo De Grandis and Pierre Restany, developed parallel to OPEN, the International Exhibition of Sculptures and Installations, which opens its seventeenth edition this year on 28th August. The prize will be awarded to a director taking part in the Venice International Film Festival whose work reveals, in an unprecedented way, a fruitful interest in the fascinating theme of the mutual interaction between art and cinema, two art forms which live on image and are nourished by the desire to express emotions.

The OPEN 2014 Prize, a work conceived and realised by the Artist Mark Aspinall has been awarded to Rä di Martino.

The jury, chaired by Paolo De Grandis, explained why he was chosen:

«To the works of Rä di Martino, a video artist who skilfully plays with the languages of art. His ironic and surreal gaze captures bizarre stories to tell tales of human fragility, among theatre, music, literature and the cinema. He judiciously articulates codes and quotations, moving expertly between the techniques and tools of the arts.

In particular, the cinema is both protagonist and object of investigation and reflection for Rä di Martino. So in his works we can catch, glimpse, perceive or stumble across stories, places, words, echoes of the cinema that has become a collective memory and thus a kind of alphabet: coded signs that tell new stories or new old stories in the artistic video dimension».

Previous winning directors were Joao Botelho with the film Quem es tu?,Julie Taymor with Frida, Takeshi Kitano with Zatoichi, Marziyeh Meshkini with Sag - haye velgard,Stanley Kwan with Changhen ge (Everlasting Regret), Jia Zhangke with Dong, Peter Greenaway with Nightwatching, Philip Haaswith The Butcher’s Shop,Michael Moore with Capitalism: A Love Story, John Woo, the Director Marco Müller, Robert Redford and Serena Nono.

The OPEN exhibition has been held for seventeen years, coinciding with the Venice Film Festival, confirming the precise intent to strengthen the bond that exists between art and the cinema; the creation of OPEN Prize bears witness to this close and fertile relationship.



Extraordinary success at our exhibitions in the  Biennale Architettura 2014

Fundamentally Hong Kong? DELTA FOUR 1984-2044

Happiness Forecourt = Largo da Felicidade =開心前地

The Space that Remains: Yao Jui-Chung’s “Ruins” Series

With an average of  7000 visitors in one months.

Inaugurazione Hong Kong

Inaugurazione Hong Kong