A faculty member at The University of Texas at Austin and her colleague have been invited to create and showcase new work at the 57th Venice Biennale, one of the largest and most prestigious exhibitions of contemporary art in the world.
Teresa Hubbard, the William and Bettye Nowlin Professor in Photography, and Alexander Birchler, a Swiss artist who is an affiliate research scholar at UT Austin, will showcase their work to an expected half million visitors to the art exhibit, which takes place May 13–Nov. 26, 2017, in Venice, Italy.
“Teresa Hubbard and Alexander Birchler have a deft ability to create visually compelling works that reorder cultural myths while implicating the conventions of photography and film,” said Jack Risley, chair of the department of art and art history at UT Austin. “Hubbard brings an exacting standard to her collaborative work with Birchler, a standard that also characterizes her teaching at UT where she has a profound effect on our studio art program.”
The artist duo have been working collaboratively since 1990. Their film/photography-based practice combines hybrid forms of storytelling and explores the connections between social life, memory and history that sit just outside the frame of a recorded image.
Curator Philipp Kaiser of the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia selected Hubbard and Birchler to show their work in the exhibition “Women of Venice” at the Pavilion of Switzerland. The exhibition explores the historical absence of artist Alberto Giacometti in the Swiss Pavilion at the Biennale. The artist was considered one of the most influential Swiss artists of the 20th century, but he repeatedly declined requests to represent Switzerland in the Venice Biennale.
In their work, Hubbard and Birchler use a documentary approach to delve into the archaeology of film. At the Biennale, they will present their film installation “Flora,” based on discoveries made in the course of their research on the largely unknown American artist Flora Mayo, who studied in Paris in the 1920s at the same time as Giacometti and became his lover. By weaving together fictional and documentary material, the artists reconstruct and re-imagine Flora Mayo’s life and work, while giving voice to her previously unknown son. Giacometti and Mayo’s relationship and their ensuing portrait reflect the creative energy generated by their collaborative artistic activity and also shed light on Giacometti’s early life.
“To be selected as an artist for a national pavilion at the Venice Biennale is one of the most prestigious recognitions an artist can receive,” Hubbard said. “I'm humbled by the invitation and look forward to presenting a new body of work, ‘Flora,’ created with my long-time collaborator, Alexander Birchler.”
This is the second time that Hubbard and Birchler have been invited to exhibit their work at the Venice Biennale. In 1999, curator Harald Szeemann invited them to participate in his group exhibition at the Giardini, “dAPERTutto.”
Images: Teresa Hubbard and Alexander Birchler.
Production still, Flora. Images courtesy of the artists.