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Blaffer Art Museum heads to the Venice Biennale


The Blaffer sponsoring “At the Back of the North Wind” by Anton Ginzburg in Italy

“Imagine a place on Earth devoid of seasonal change and natural disaster, whose inhabitants were free of pestilence, aging, and war.”

If your mind refuses to stretch wide enough to envision that space, don’t worry. Visual artist Anton Ginzburg has done the heavy thinking for you.

In the description of his exhibit At the Back of the North Wind, the source of the quote above, Ginzburg is positioned as a modern-day explorer of Hyperborea, “a realm lying north of the winter territories, where the sun never set and whose landscape and waters were lush, fertile, and wild.”

Hyperborea was first described by Homer, Hesoid, Herodotus and other ancient Greeks and associated with the god Apollo. Now, at the 54th International Art Exhibition at la Biennale di Benezia, a Russian American contemporary artist will unveil his imagined vision of the artifacts and remnants of an ancient myth that teaches much about modern times.

The installation of photographs, drawings, sculpture and film is co-presented by Blaffer Art Museum and Flo Art Fund with initial organizational support provided by Artpace San Antonio. Curated by Matthew J.W. Drutt, the show was chosen as an official participant in La Biennale di Venezia’s Collateral Program and will be on view from June 3 to November 27 at the Palazzo Bollani.

“We are thrilled to participate in the Venice Biennial," said Claudia Schmuckli, director of the Blaffer. "Over a century after its inception, it is still one of the most important cultural events in the world and we are very proud to be a part of it. The international exposure is invaluable in view of raising awareness for the museum's exhibitions and programs."

The Venice Biennial, which was established in 1895, has an attendance of more than 370,000 visitors. "We can only dream of reaching that kind of audience here on campus," adds Schmuckli.

“The contemporary art world is global by nature,” said Schmuckli, who earned her master of arts degree in art history from the Ludwigs-Maximilians-Universität in Munich, Germany. "We consistently work with institutions nationally and internationally to broaden the museum's reach. Over the past two years alone, we have co-published three exhibitions catalogs in collaboration with museums in Switzerland, Germany and the UK."

Most exhibitions organized by Blaffer Art Museum travel to museums nationally, but only one has made the international leap before – Chuck Close Prints: Process and Collaboration traveled to Seoul, Korea in 2008.

At the Back of the North Wind was organized for presentation in the Biennial. Following its Venetian debut, Schmuckli plans to bring the project to the University of Houston and present it in the context of FotoFest 2012 which will focus on Russia.

“Blaffer is dedicated to creating defining moments in an artist’s career,” said Schmuckli. "I think it's fair to say that being included in the Venice Biennial is such a moment for anyone, but especially for a young emerging artist like Anton Ginzburg."

- Shannon Buggs