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Nil Yalter and Anna Maria Maiolino golden lionesses

QDA 11.06.23 N°2705

Portrait de Nil Yalter à la galerie Berthet-Aittouarès, © Michel Lunardelli, Courtesy Galerie Berthet-Aittouarès

©Michel Lunardelli

Once again, two women have been awarded the Golden Lion for their lifetime achievement. After Germany's Katharina Fritsch and Chile's Cecilia Vicuña in 2022, the 60th Venice Biennale has chosen the Franco-Turkish Nil Yalter (born in 1938 in Cairo, hence her first name) and the Italian-Brazilian Anna Maria Maiolino (born in 1942 in Scalea, Calabria) to receive this prestigious prize, approved by the event's board of directors, still chaired by Roberto Cicutto (he will be replaced in 2024 by the far-right journalist Pietrangelo Buttafuoco), on the recommendation of the Brazilian Adriano Pedrosa, curator of the biennial's next international exhibition.


Under the title "Foreigners Everywhere" - which echoes a Turin-based anti-racist movement from the 2000s and a series of artworks by Claire Fontaine - the exhibition boldly affirms, in an Italy ruled by the neo-fascist Fratelli d'Italia party, the desire to focus "on artists who have travelled and migrated between North and South, Europe and beyond, and vice versa. In this way, my choice is two extraordinary, pioneering women artists who are also migrants", says the curator.


Nil Yalter and Anna Maria Maiolino, the first emigrated from Cairo to Istanbul before settling in Paris, and the second moved to Venezuela and then Brazil, where she joined the 'new figuration' movement and where she now lives, embody these cultural upheavals, linked to the uprooting of identity and the living conditions of minorities.

Nil Yalter (who was given a retrospective at the MAC VAL in 2019 and this year took part in the exhibition "Signals: How Video Transformed the World" at the MoMA) is one of the pioneers of feminist video art, supported in her early days by Suzanne Pagé and Dany Bloch, who presented her artworks at the ARC. Her manifesto artworks combine video, photography, drawing and writing, documenting temporary housing in the slums of Istanbul, women's prisons and the immigration of Turkish families to Paris, the subject of her series "Exile Is a Hard Job" (1974-2023), which will be the subject of her installation at the Venice Biennale alongside her emblematic yurt installed at the Museum of Modern Art of Paris in 1973. Odile Aittouarès, who met the artist in 2018 when she was being honoured by the AWARE association and who has just opened an exhibition in her gallery (until December 23), explains: "These are subjects about the defence of women and the loss of identity that have pursued her all her life".


Equally radical, Anna Maria Maiolino's pictorial and performative artworks have relentlessly denounced the military dictatorship, censorship and precariousness. At the biennial, she will be presenting a new large-scale work that continues her series of clay sculptures and installations begun in the 90s.



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