Cultural Initiatives in North Africa and the Middle East
An Interactive Performance during the 57th Venice Biennale
Preview Days May 8-12
Open to the Public May 13-October 30, 2017
“I didn’t come here of my own accord, and I can’t leave that way.
Whoever brought me here, will have to take me home.”
Maulana Rumi (1207-1273)
The Absence of Paths, Tunisia’s first national pavilion since 1958, challenges contemporary political order through an interactive performance intended to inspire further enquiry into human movement. Curated by Lina Lazaar, commissioned by The Presidency of the Tunisian Republic and the Ministry of Cultural Affairs, The Absence of Paths marks a continued partnership between the public and private stakeholders in Tunisia’s flourishing Art community.
Through a process of reductionism, The Absence of Paths makes use of Venice’s representation during the 57th Biennale as a microcosm of our planet. Leveraging the existence of the various national pavilions, as well as the multiethnic, culturally diverse, and intentionally transient ‘visitors’ accessing the island of Venice, The Absence of Paths presents participants the means to lodge an artistic challenge towards the reinvigorated strands of nationalism at the forefront of sociopolitical activity today. The Absence of Paths will further enable each and every participant to continue their personal protest, beyond Venice, in the most sacred of national forums -their passport- and to shed the baggage of national identity that is stifling our collective human consciousness.
“I continue to be inspired by Pangaea, and imagine a world connected in the truest sense of the word,” states Lina Lazaar. “How should we deal with our interconnectedness, and during these cyclical periods of separation, remain true to our common heritage? The reminder that we are all ‘Only Human’ is the inspiration behind the Absence of Paths, and with some luck, will be the panacea participants will take with them, through their every step.”
The Pavilion, in part inspired by Tunisia’s destination as a migratory launch pad into Europe, is a-typical in its physical manifestation, set away from the Aresenale and the Giardini, ensuring an experience that is everywhere and nowhere, a project void of traditional art or artists. The majestic, art-empowered, open-air theatre that is Venice, buzzing with visitors on the move, from one national exhibition, to the next, is at the heart of The Absence of Paths. Tunisia’s contribution - a thought experiment that can only exist through the prism of the Art world – is being curated to include, among others, real life contributions from aspirant migrants. This has been the most powerful, yet challenging, component of what is intended to be a waltz between the city of Venice and her many stage actors.
The debate extends beyond the physical space of Venice, through an interactive online platform which will feature text, video, audio, recipes, and photography collected from a wide range of thinkers, and will serve as a meeting point for visitors around the world.
At 10.30 each day from 9 – 12 May, short readings and performances will take place at the pavilion. A full programme and locations will be announced in late April.