The contemporary visual art exhibition organised and held in Venice biennially since 1895 has come a long way. As Picasso’s work was once removed from the Spanish salon in the central Palazzo, in fear that its unconventionality may shock the public; the Biennale is now a place for artists from around the world to challenge and test perceptions.
“You walk into a welcoming home and you leave with a bitter taste of suppression.”– Sanya Torkmorad-Jozavi
Contemporary art is often a statement reflecting upon society and current issues both nationally and globally. UK-based Israeli artist Michal Cole has done exactly that at this year’s showcase. The 57th International Art Exhibition saw ‘Objection’ at the Pavilion of Humanity. With the University of the Arts London backing her project, Cole collected and stitched a collection of ties which adorned a room entirely. There are also tie-covered sculptures.
This common representation of men – the humble tie, evokes political unrest, liberation, societal gender norms and biases against the backdrop of a video installation by artist Ekin Onat. The installation creates an intimate space deemed ‘politically neutral’. This installation comments on women in society globally. Sexual assault, women rights and the oppression of women are stimuli.
Innate to Cole and Onat’s work is an amalgamation of issues addressed. Culture, boundaries, hypocrisy, gender, race and social politics. These two women from differing backgrounds come together using their creativity for human-rights, to give a voice to a large demographic who often face injustice and inequality.
I spoke to London College of Fashion graduate Sanya Torkmorad-Jozavi (Michal Cole’s assistant) about the project and her involvement.
How would you describe the installation?
25,000 ties spread across a Venetian Gentlemen’s lounge, ‘Top Gun’ indulges the ultimate male power- accessory. Every inch of the furniture, lighting, sculptures, and a bookshelf of curiosities fabricated with recycled silk ties. Cole and myself would argue about where the tie point would sit! Everything was tirelessly scrutinised. The walls and chevron flooring was one by one stitched together, selecting by colour and print to make a constantly moving, balanced psychedelia. The ceiling ties individually unpicked, and ironing a Mount Everest of ties; the studio became the Tieland sweatshop! I could write a book of the whole experience- was so intense but inspired!
What does the tie mean to you?
For me, the tie represents the individual man, a mere businessman’s tool to be serious. But when they come together, the impact and power behind numbers, takes the individual into a united force that completely consumes whoever enters.
Where did the ties come from?
Friends of Michal would donate their ties. Some belonged to fathers, or worn to weddings or funerals and it’s just so beautiful to think of all the places these ties have been in a past life!
How do you feel about Cole’s vision?
It’s part of the OBJECTION exhibition, the Pavilion of Humanity, transforming the whole house into a reflection of a woman’s role- each room an installation. You walk into a welcoming home and you leave with a bitter taste of suppression. I’m so proud of what our humble team, which became a family, were able to achieve and it’s a must-see.
Tell me about Ekin Onat’s work with Michal Cole on this?
It was a collaboration between Michal and Ekin. They did the bedroom together with CNC sculptures of both of them, and a sound installation with Michal speaking Israeli and Ekin Turkish both having a conversation not understanding each other. Everything else was individual, either of Michal or Ekin and no video piece was with both of them. ‘Top Gun’ is Michal, the police performance was Ekin. The kitchen Michal’s, the dining room Ekin.
On until Sunday November 26th, 2017