One of the Rubin Center’s core missions is to bring international artists and arts professionals to our geographically isolated border region. We are often lucky enough to get artists on an upward trajectory as they build careers that take them towards the top of their field. Such was the case with artist Tania Candiani who was featured in the 2009 Rubin Center exhibition Battleground with Guatemalan artist Regina Jose Galindo and Karla Jass, who co-curated the 2010 exhibition Contra Flujo: Independence and Revolution featuring eight artists from Mexico working in new media. This year Jasso and Candiani, along with artist Luis Felipe Ortega, represented the country of Mexico in the 56th edition of the Venice Biennale, the oldest and arguably the most prestigious international art fair in the world.
This world-wide cultural event attracts a varied international public throughout a 150-day exhibition period, with an average of more than 2,000 visitors a day, giving the participating artists and cultural institutions unique exposure and prestige. Founded in 1895 Venice Biennale features artists and artwork selected by countries around the globe and has remained one of the central events of the art world for more than a century. In this 56th edition there are a total of 89 countries formally represented—30 exhibitions housed in the permanent national pavilions in the Giardini (central gardens), and an additional 59 countries in the adjacent Arsenale or in locations throughout Venice. All of this is complemented by scores of additional exhibitions, performances, installations and events.
Jasso’s curatorial proposal for the Mexican Pavilion in Venice was titled Possessing Nature and Featured a collaborative installation by Candiani and Ortega. Jasso’s core concept was based in the idea of the two cities of Venice and Mexico City having the shared history of being built on and around canals. In her curatorial proposal she writes, “While one embraces the sea (“si sposa con il mare”), the other is dried out and its lakes are exhausted under the imprint of colonial sovereignty. Drawing a path that would enable a journey through the places that have hosted the Mexican Pavilion in Venice during the 21st century, the result is a trace that refers to the history of architecture and infrastructure, as well as its relation to political, economic, religious and military powers that have supported the Western Empire from its origins.”
This trace takes the form of a single, site-specific installation by the two invited artists. In the center of the installation is a large metal sculpture, approximately 9 feet in height and 30 feet in length that snakes its way through the span of the gallery following a very specific cartographic route that traces the historic path of the various sites of the Mexican Pavilion throughout the city of Venice in the 20th century. The inside of the sculpture is a hollow vessel which can only be seen fully after climbing a narrow staircase at the back of the gallery which leads the viewer to a small platform few feet above the highest point of the piece. From there one can experience a sound installation by Candiani, created by a hydraulic pump bringing water from the canal that circulates through the piece creating a creating the loud, constant noise of rushing water. The water is then pumped outward into an adjacent reflection pool on the gallery floor, the surface of which displays a video projection by Ortega that compares the drainage structures of Venice and Mexico City.
Inclusion in the Venice Biennale is an opportunity for artists and curators to present their ideas to a world-wide audience, and creates new opportunities for networking and building professional relationships that can often fundamentally change the course of an artists career. When arts professionals like Candiani and Jasso have positive experience with contemporary art in El Paso, they carry those experiences with them, connecting our region with artists and venues around the globe. We celebrate their success at the Biennale and will be watching their careers closely in the years to come. The exhibition of Possessing Nature will continue at the Venice Biennial through November 22nd, 2015.
For more information about the Venice Biennal please visit