News & Media

Black Cube Represents Colorado in Venice

May 18 2017

Black Cube is currently exhibiting works from two of this year’s Artist Fellows, Laura Shill and Joel Swanson, at a satellite exhibition during the the 57th Venice Biennale. The exhibition opened on May 13th off of the Grand Canal at the Palazzo Bembo and will remain open to the public until the exhibition closes on November 26th. Cortney Lane Stell, Black Cube Executive Director + Chief Curator, talks more about the two artists and their exhibition, Personal Structures.

“Personal Structures was born out of conversations with the artists about projects that might help their practice grow, Black Cube’s ambition to offer alternatives to existing structures of the art world, and a desire to produce our first international project. I always ask myself what kind of project I can develop with the artists that will stretch them in the way they need stretching… sometimes it’s a method, site, or audience but in this case it was an experience.

Both Joel and Laura felt that they had exhibited in all of the important, local museums and other cultural institutions, and felt a sort of glass ceiling. This glass ceiling is something I often hear from artists in our region (and other regions as well).

I selected these artists wanting to offer an alternative to the nationalistic lens of the biennale. As a nomadic institution – from a regional space – I feel that this national perspective is not productive for the types of conversations that the artists I love and respect are dealing with. This is not to say that artists don’t think about the culture they are a part of; it’s just often more nuanced than a nationalistic approach. It’s problematic to group artists into countries, specifically in regards to one as big and diverse as the U.S. I also feel that it was important to select works that were representative in some way of the current socio-cultural climate (not being the U.S. per say but works which relate to larger issues that we are grappling with globally). Both Joel and Laura’s works speak to our relationship to “the other” and also blur boundaries between perceived binary systems.

These artists pair nicely because their work is aesthetically contrasting but conceptually linked in interesting ways. I think they were surprised at the pairing, but both independently said to me in Venice that they made each other’s work stronger (which makes my curatorial heart pitter patter).

Since the opening, Personal Structures has received national attention. “With text based neons from Joel Swanson and shiny gold sculptures from Laura Shill, it might sound like a fair booth on paper, but the work is gorgeous. Even Paddy (who was unphased by most of the Biennale) loved it,” stated Michael Anthony Farley in an article on artfcity.com. Joel and Laura’s exhibition with Black Cube is also highlighted on Artnet. Read more and see pictures of their works.