Latifa Echakhch, Photography by Sébastien Agnetti


Latifa Echakhch's Swiss Pavilion at La Biennale di Venezia

Published Tuesday, Jan 25, 2022

In the beginning was the end: Latifa Echakhch’s cycle of life

The Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia is delighted to announce details of the Pavilion of Switzerland exhibition at the 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. The exhibition titled The Concert, is conceived by Latifa Echakhch, in collaboration with percussionist and composer Alexandre Babel and curator Francesco Stocchi.

Gloomy remnants of art fill the first space, where visitors set out on a counterclockwise journey through time. In each room, the atmosphere changes – time runs backwards, from broad daylight to the evening before. Ever more recognizably inspired by folk sculpture and customs, the sculptures, filling the whole space, are increasingly veiled by a spreading darkness.

These are scenes of impermanence, of catharsis, with which installation artist Latifa Echakhch captivates visitors of the Pavilion of Switzerland at this year's Biennale Arte, scenes that bring to the fore the cycle of life in a multi-layered and complex way. Most of the material used for the exhibition is itself part of a transformation, recycled from previous biennales.

Between ritual and rhythm

The artist Latifa Echakhch, who lives in Switzerland, evokes the ritual fires that are common in many cultures. They include the lighting of straw dolls for the St. John's fire, which is supposed to protect against demons and diseases around the solstice at the end of June or, in Switzerland, the burning of the “Böögg” on Zurich's Sechseläutenplatz to bid farewell to the winter season. Fire is always both the end and the beginning on a constantly turning wheel of time.

Latifa Echakhch also enters into a dialogue with the building designed by Bruno Giacometti in 1951. The artist revisits its architectural program and appropriates the entirety of its spaces, exploring their relationship to light and the different sounds that emerge from them.

The exhibition plays with harmonies and dissonances, with the mixed feelings of expectation, fulfilment and disappearance. The sculptures are part of an orchestrated and enveloping experience, a rhythmic and spatial proposal that allows viewers to experience a fuller perception of time and of their own body.

“We want visitors to leave the exhibition with the same feeling they have when they come out of a concert. That this rhythm, those fragments of memory, still echo,” says Latifa Echakhch. “The Biennale is an eruption of artistic greatness every time. A wave that culminates in a cathartic grandeur only to then recede, leaving a deserted landscape of abandoned buildings.” Through the exhibition, Latifa Echakhch raises the question whether art, similar to music, only begins to exist once silence and emptiness take over.

Project book and record

The exhibition will be accompanied by a record and a book functioning as a reflection of the discussions that guided the project. The book presents archival material, interviews and critical texts, including theoretical considerations around sound, rhythm and the notion of a total work of art. As such, it will constitute an additional dimension in the understanding of the exhibition.

Latifa Echakhch is co-represented by Dvir Gallery, kamel mennour, kaufmann repetto and Pace Gallery.

  • News — Swiss Art Council Announces Latifa Echakhch's Pavilion at the 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, Jan 25, 2022