Open Call for the Danish Pavilion

The Danish Arts Foundation changes its procedure: now, artists can apply to represent Denmark at the 2021 Venice Biennale.

Elmgreen & Dragset, The Collectors, The Danish Pavilion and The Nordic Pavilion, The Venice Biennale, 2009. Courtesy the Danish and the Nordic pavilions and the artists.

In a press release issued today, the Danish Arts Foundation’s Committee for Visual Arts Project Funding announced a change in the procedure used when selecting artists for the Danish Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. Now, “professional visual artists who have a significant connection to the Danish art scene” can submit proposals for an exhibition to be realised at the next biennale in 2021.

For some time now, the committee has appointed the artist(s) and curators who represent Denmark at the Venice biennale on its own accord, based on the members’ own insights. Next time will be different: based on the proposals submitted, the committee will invite two or three artists to further develop their suggestions, resulting in a fully fledged project proposal created in collaboration with a curator and with the Danish Agency for Culture standing by to provide advice. The selected artists will then present their proposals at a committee meeting, after which the committee will hold another meeting in May 2020 to reach its final decision on which project to implement.

The committee chairperson, Lisette Vind Ebbesen, said in the press release: “We hope to see a lot of ideas from established visual artists who have already made their mark internationally, but also from emerging talents. Right now, the Danish art scene is bursting with talent, with solo shows of real substance and exciting new initiatives. We are on the lookout for a project that exudes real relevance, one capable of arousing wonder and amazement, generating buzz and conversation”.

Only professional visual artists can submit project proposals, either individually or collectively. The proposal must point to a curator that the artist(s) would like to see join the project, but curators cannot apply on their own as in other countries such as the Netherlands and France.

The various countries participating in the Venice Biennale employ widely different processes when appointing artists to the national pavilions. For the Nordic Pavilion, for example, artists are appointed in turn by Finland, Norway and Sweden, who share the pavilion; the most recent appointment was made by the director at Kiasma in Helsinki, Leevi Haapala, and curator at the same museum, Pia Oksanen. By contrast, Russia appoints a curator to oversee the contents of the pavilion for the art and architecture biennales alike for a number of years; the current incumbent is Semyon Mikhailovsky, who has held the chair since 2016. New Zealand is among the countries which issue open calls, and now Denmark is joining their ranks. The application deadline is 17 December this year.